–Shauna Aura Knight
Having just taught workshops at three of the big four Pagan conferences, and having attended a number of large Pagan festivals, I wanted to offer a bit of context for how some of these larger events have handled issues of social justice. While these events don’t represent the entire Pagan community, they do reflect issues and trends that ripple out to Pagans across the globe.
I’ve noticed a definite contrast in how specific events/communities are dealing with issues of racism, rape culture, harassment, cultural appropriation, transphobia, and other related issues. Some communities and events are actively embracing dialogue, and others don’t address these issues at all.
As the weather changes here in New England and the feet of snow dropped on us this Winter begins to melt, the thoughts of many may turn toward causes that have lain dormant, hibernating through the cold months or only visible online as we huddled for warmth inside.
With Spring likely comes new Moral Monday protests. And, as the 2016 campaign season begins, there will likely be fuel from both sides of the aisle to feed the flames of activism. Even events of these past few months are likely to result in some work, for example the budgets by various governors slash eduction funding in their state which hits close to home considering I work in higher education within one of them, not to mention the continuing work that people are doing throughout the nation regarding race and law enforcement.
As we begin to get involved, don’t forget that the devil’s in the details. When one works to fight authority, authority fights back, and it does so with all the bureaucratic might at its disposal. To deal with that requires that at least some part of your organization work within the system.
You may have heard recently that Ringling Brothers is phasing out elephant performers.
I don’t usually write about “single issues” because I like to go after the fundamentals – compassion, moral exclusion, and so on. But the news that Ringling Bros. will free 13 Asiatic elephants is exactly why we take action: to save innocents from misery.
Going to the circus seems innocent, and for the attendees it is. I’m not ascribing malice to them. People like to watch elephants perform and marvel at them, at their beauty and skill. It’s the same for Seaworld, aquariums, or zoos. People don’t go to those places because they dislike animals or want them to suffer. They go there to celebrate them.
My last post on Pagan Activist I wrote about Peace & Planet events happening in New York City April 24-26, 2015. They’ll be an interfaith service which I hope Pagans will take a lead on. There’s a Panel Discussion planned for Thursday, March 5th, 7p-9p at the All Saint’s Church which I also have hope for Pagan attendance. (If you’re wondering why I’m not participating it’s because I live in Boston. Also, as the event is happening on my weekend to work, I won’t be able to attend, sadly.)