Monthly Archives: July 2012

Am I an activist?

I must admit, when Michelle first asked me to contribute to this blog, I was not sure if I had anything to contribute.

Am I a pagan? Yes, specifically a polytheist and syncertic one. Am I liberal? Sometimes I wonder, but yes, my political still fall somewhere in the range of liberal/progressive/socialist. But am I an activist? I don’t know.

When I think of activists, I normally think of people who are actively engaged in political causes. The usual image comes to mind of people in a group to show their support of a specific issue. That is not something I do. I admire the people who do though. People like Michelle or Thorn Coyle. Someone like my aunt Mary, who would still be standing on the street in protests in her 80s, umbrella in hand to protect her from the sun. There was even a time in my youth when my mother and I were driving down to DC to see my cousin Mary Louise, and when we got to her apartment she said “Ah, you’re here, I need to go bail my mom out of jail.”

This was during Iran Contra.

That is not in my personality or my actions.

Hades, I’m not even fully out about all of my life. Some activist, who can’t even be honest about themselves.

At the same time, I do vote. I read the news. I stay aware of issues. I regularly donate money to charitable causes. I speak up and voice my opinion.

For now that is enough for me.

Daily Activism

5169118_xxl–By Shauna Aura Knight

I often feel I’m a lightweight as an activist. I attended my first protest in May in Chicago. I saw that protest get very heated and violent at the very end. Joining protests is not my own personal first line of activism–but then, nor am I just an armchair activist posting pithy things on my Facebook.

I try to raise awareness of issues, and live my values in my every day life. For me, this has meant years of environmental work to live more ecologically sustainably.

All the time, I am working to reduce my environmental impact. And while there are a lot of issues out there, a lot of things to stand up and be an activist for or against, for me, environmental sustainability sits at the crux of many of these. If we destroy our environment, we are harming ourselves, our children, those who come after. If we destroy our environment, we are creating entire new classes of social justice problems.

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The sharp end of the pen

I’m honored that Michelle has invited me to participate, especially since I’m not generally the kind of activist who is out there on the front lines. I tend to do my activism with a keyboard or a pen, spreading the word, raising awareness, and writing my legislators. That may not be as exciting as marching and rallying, but I hope to use it as a vital and integrated part of activism, so that’s most of what I’ll be doing here at Pagan Activist.

I hope to present a mix of suggestions for ways you can use your words to act in accord with your values and intent. Being able to explain, clearly and simply, why you take a particular position can sway the public discourse. The more specialized communication of writing to your legislators (or better yet calling them) can have more impact than some people realize, especially if you are able to explain your concerns effectively.

For example, at one point a bill was under consideration in my state legislature that had an innocuous-sounding message about ensuring people’s right to pray, including in schools. As civil rights organizations pointed out, it seemed to be aimed at re-introducing official school prayers, including ones led by teachers. I called my legislator’s office and asked how the legislator would feel if I was teaching his child and opened my class with an invocation of Kali.

The staffer who took my call was taking frantic notes. I could tell that no one – no one at all – had raised this point, or had considered that “religion” doesn’t just mean “Christianity.” Something similar probably happened with a Louisiana legislator who was recently amazed to discover that “religious schools” didn’t just mean Christian schools.

Explaining the experience of a minority to the majority in such a way that it communicates the visceral impact of an infringement of rights can make a world of difference.

Some of my posts may be suggestions to write your legislators; others may be examples that you can use to help discuss and explain rights to other people. I’m sure some will take forms that I can’t predict.  Some will be about Pagan issues, others about women’s rights, social justice and issues of privilege, and other areas I work with. Throughout, this is my goal: to help us all find effective ways to put our words to work.

So mote it be!

An Introduction to David Dashifen Kees

Hello!  My name is David Dashifen Kees, and I’ll be your blogger for the next few minutes.

Aside from my own sporadic writing on my own sites (something that I’m hoping to fix in the coming months), this is really the first time that I’ve tried to contribute my words to this sort of work.  I’m honored and pleased that Michelle offered me a chance to share my thoughts with you.

I’ve always been a writer.  Even during my early school years, I found myself writing short, fictional stories that exceeded the length expectations of my teachers.  Quantity does not necessarily equate to quality, but I’d like to think that my skills with the pen … err … keyboard are such that you won’t find my posts to onerous.  I’ve been Pagan for almost exactly 14 years as of this writing, and unlike many others in the community, I’ve found that my writing time has decreased during my time as a Pagan while the desire to write has increased.  I hope that here at Pagan Activist, I’ll reawaken my writer’s soul.

My contributions here will likely focus primarily on interfaith activism.  Professionally, I work for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and, there, I was exposed to a student organization, Interfaith in Action, and assisted in the creation of the University’s Pagan Students Association, though after a run of about seven or eight years, it looks like that specific group might be in hibernation until others pick it up again.  Between these two organizations, I’ve sat on a number of panels, shared my faith with others through Interfaith in Action’s “speed-faithing” events, and helped to organize the first Illinois Conference on Interfaith Collaboration (ICIC) which took place in April 2012.

At ICIC, I was invited to explain why, as a Pagan, I was drawn to interfaith activism.  You can hear my remarks on YouTube.  I come in at about 14 minutes and 20 seconds; the link above should start you right when I come in. I wasn’t able to determine a way to begin an embedded video at a specific time (or start at any other time than on a specific minute) and I didn’t want to embed the video here and confuse people when I didn’t show up for 14+ minutes, otherwise I would have simply placed the video here.  Homework for next time!

While my involvement in the world of Pagan interfaith leaders pales in comparison to the work of others like M. Macha Nightmare or Patrick McCollum, I hope that my thoughts on interfaith activism will be of interest and value to you and I look forward to blogging on this and other matters as the spirit moves me.

See you next time!

Welcome to Pagan Activist

Pagan Activist came to fruition because every time I join a protest I am the only Pagan I know of in the crowd. Often I feel like I’m the only Pagan fighting for Mother Earth, standing up for social security, for ending wars, for income equality, for reproductive rights. I know this can’t actually be the case. As a matter of fact, I see Pagan activists from other parts of the nation and the world in pictures, tweets, blogs so I know they *do* exist.

The isolation I felt at protests made me reach out to other Pagans in the blog world. Doing so helped ease the sense that I’m the only Liberal Pagan Activist. I was fortunate to have some really fantastic Pagan bloggers respond to my request. So please welcome Dash, Literata, Shauna Aura, Soli, and me to the world of Pagan activist blogging.

Once a week a this blog will be updated with a post from one of the authors on a subject of their choice from a Liberal Pagan perspective. So please join us weekly in our journey as Pagans, Liberals, and activists. We welcome polite, respectful comments and discussion.

Follow us on Twitter: @PaganActivist, @_michellehill, @dashifen, @Literata_errata, @ShaunaAura, @believeinbutter

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