In July 2012 I created this blog as a way to connect with other Pagan activists around the world. I knew there had to be others out there so I started writing as a way to connect with others. And in the last 1.5 years I have to say, I’m quite pleased with the connections made.
At first I was going to write a post like I do every few weeks but I decided not to. Instead, the idea of a Year in Review came to mind. Generally, Year in Reviews are a round up of the most commented upon posts, or the one with the most views. I decided to do something different this year: I’m adding a link to one post by each author with no comments.
So without further ado
If you are going to be an activist, or even care about an issue, it is essential to have a good background of the material surrounding this issue. Not only will it better inform you as a citizen, it will give you ammunition (though I hate to use the term) when dealing with people opposed to your stance.
This is something I’ve learned over the years. Certainly I regret a few things I’ve done over the four decades of my life but I have more regrets over the things I haven’t done, or skipped out on. The WTO in 1999 is a prime example. Why didn’t I go? I was working. Or I had school. Or the stars weren’t lined up right. The reality is, I don’t remember why I didn’t go but I’ve yet to forgive myself for missing what I think is one of the most important moments in US social history.
It’s only adding insult to injury for a conservative group like True the Vote to use this as its stereotype of “fraud.” True the Vote specifically encourages its “election observers” to watch for mismatches with voters’ IDs and registration records, and to challenge voters in states – like Virginia – where such challenges on Election Day are legal. Their purpose is to prevent people from voting. Even when they’re not successful and a trans person manages to vote, it’s extremely galling to think about the added stress and strain trans people go through when confronted by True the Vote’s “observers,” forcing them to explain – again – their personal situation, including intimate details, to perfect strangers, in public, while trying to reach some unstated standard of being a “real” person – man or woman – in order to participate in this most fundamental part of being a citizen of a democracy.
No one, not one of us, is an island remote, cut-off, and separated from everyone else. When violence erupts in Egypt, you can be sure that the American government is watching and wondering what we’ll need to do and whether we’ll need to get involved. But, not all of us can stand up in the same ways. Not all of us can afford to be on the front lines risking our freedom and our bodies the way that others can. And these limitations exist for a variety of reasons that cross every social boundary from race to religion, from class to gender.
Those wishing to engage in activism must first find their voice in their own community and be able to “stand” their ground and call the community to self-reflection on how our own actions do or do not reflect our values. ‘Standing up’ and risking negative discourse, social consequences and sometimes-hurt feelings is at the very center of the activist archetype.
Many, but not all, Pagans consider themselves Earth-centered. If we worship the earth, or gods of the earth, or just care about the world we live in, we should be concerned with our own impact on it.
The last moment of special note was when I mentioned to a fellow marcher that this year felt somehow different to me. She pressed me for an explanation of what that feeling was and I heard myself explain that this year I wasn’t afraid – not afraid of the police, not afraid of losing myself, simply not afraid. Perhaps it was naïve to feel that way but that doesn’t change the fact that fear was absent for me. Did last year’s experience change the police in some way? Have we, as activists, learned and grown since last year about focus and organization? I don’t have any answers to those questions but I celebrate my experience, realizing that it may have been very different for other people. I felt stronger, more grounded in what I was doing and infinitely more connected to the thousands of people around me. We were community. We were focused. We were organized. We will be back next year. Solidarity!
Each one of us is the hero of our own story. And each one of us has the capacity to be more than we are, to be a part of bringing about the changes that will build better lives for all of us. But, I think that accepting that we have the power to make changes in the world means accepting a lot of responsibility. It means acknowledging our flaws and how we get in our own way, and it means, for some people, actually being willing to acknowledge what we want in our lives. It means putting a name to our dream. It means that we have to actually walk our talk–put action to our words–which is the core of activism.
It’s been a fantastic year here on Pagan Activist. I want to thank all the authors who take the time to write and to the readers who take the time to view the blog. Starting next week, you’ll see new authors on Pagan Activist including Lauren and Phil.
Happy New Year everyone!