Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Fool-hearted Notion of Radical Inclusion

In modern paganism, there are so many wonderful things. We have the ability to pick and choose our deities, our practices, and whether or not we are involved with the community. For all of the good things, however, we are human and our humanity often sees us accepting concepts that, in theory, are great, but in reality are dangerous or naive. Radical inclusion is one of those dangerous notions.

I have seen this scenario too many times: A person comes into the community, makes a few, well-placed friends among the elders, and within a few months the rumors start. The rumors come from various places. They come from someone who has done a background check on this person. They come from someone who has taken a story this person has told and it has been researched to be found false. The list of rumors goes on. Those around the person push the rumors away. They hush the people talking. They assure the people that this person is okay. They diminish the concerns of others by saying things like, "Don't be so judgmental," or "Everyone deserves another chance."

When I hear those phrases and others like them, what I hear is, "This person is furthering my own agenda. I know they are not good, but at this point, I don't care. They are disposable... eventually." What I also hear is, "I don't like it when I'm told I'm wrong before I want to acknowledge it." These things are a function of the ego. When one flatly refuses to look at the evidence in front of them and chooses to elevate a person who is dangerous to those around them to a place of power for fear of being 'judgy', is a, flat out, dumb decision. Radical inclusion is the concept where these poor choices come from.

No one in the pagan community would knowingly let a child molester come to their rituals with children present. (And if they do, well, they don't deserve those precious babies.) Just as no one in the pagan community would allow a known rapist into their circle. I have known, at least, one child molester who was utterly appalled to find out that his community wanted nothing to do with him after he betrayed them so. His clergy did an awesome job. They offered him various other opportunities to have a community (such as it was) and ritual without the children around and without those of us who would actively and openly not stand in circle with him. He, of course, refused, because 'how dare they judge me' and 'who are they to judge?'

No one in the pagan community would knowingly allow a rapist in their midst because s/he 'deserves' a second chance. They would not allow a rapist to stand in circle with them in 'perfect love and trust'.  Why? Because, like child molesters, rapists are considered monsters. Interestingly enough, though, if one hasn't actually been caught raping or molesting, the community will, literally, always take the side of the person the rumors are about. Without question and without fail, the community will turn on people who stand up and say, 'this rumor is true because I am one of the victims'. How do I know this? I have seen it on, at least, 3 separate occasions. That's right, victim blaming. But whatever happened to including everyone right where they are? Don't those victims count? So, does that mean this radical inclusion only counts if we can use the people who are included? Or, does it mean we don't include liars and those who would stir the pot? But what about those who lie with every breath and word that comes out of their mouth?

The notion of radical inclusion really isn't that radical and it really isn't that inclusive. Radical inclusion is just another justification for our own ego. Radical inclusion openly allows us to include those into our circle whom we can use to further our own agendas. That same theory of radical inclusion gives us a false sense of superiority over those who would openly and honestly look at the people around them and refuse to participate with those who are not honest or good people. That same theory of radical inclusion gives us a sense of false equivalency when we say things like, "Oh, I don't want to judge Spiritual Practice A because I do this particular Non-Spiritual Thing that is kind of similar in looks but not the same thing at all."

Radical inclusion is fool-hearted, at best. It openly ignores the predators in our midst and gives them the forum and the power they need to predate upon those who are weaker than they are.  It then gives those same predators a platform to ostracize their victims in the name of radical inclusivity. The pendulum only swings the other way when the predator is caught red-handed or enough trustworthy victims come to the fore and share their stories. Until that point, most folks are too willing to believe that the person in question couldn't possibly do that. Then they are shocked to find out the person did the thing. Then they are angry at the betrayal. Then, they go through the cycle again with another person.

This notion we should see the good in all people and each other is a wonderful one. I can always find the good, even in a bad person, but the notion that a tiger will change its stripes or a leopard its spots is foolish. If a community has a man or woman (because it happens and we all know it) making unwanted sexual advances toward people and they don't stop when asked, that person is looking for their next victim. Period. Radical inclusion says, 'maybe they are just overtly sexual and that makes insecure people uncomfortable.' Common sense says, 'maybe this person needs to hear a harsh truth that nobody wants them and to cut it out.'

People often call me a good judge of character, not because I like everyone or even see the best in everyone, but because when I see  (or, feel intuitively, actually) something that set off alarm bells within me, I don't ignore that. I don't ignore it and I don't hesitate to ask others if they feel the same. My intuition has never been wrong. Not once. Sometimes it has taken a while for me to be proven right, but I always have been. Being a good judge of character means looking past other people's glamours. It means looking past your own desire to be included or feel important. It means looking past our own comfort zone. Once that happens, we find that being 'judgmental' is just another way that we protect ourselves from getting hurt.

Brightest Blessings, Friends!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Hermit's Walk

Recently, I moved again. It was probably one of the most grueling and agonizing things that I have done in my life. This is not because physical labor is hard, but because I was physically incapacitated at the beginning of the move and only had a little help. Literally, I was in a cast and not supposed to be putting weight on it, so I was completely dependent on others for almost everything... In theory. Well, I'm too much of a control freak for that. At the end of the first day, we and our two friends (who are amazing!!) got about half of what we needed to do done and in the moment, it was frustrating, but looking back, it's okay. I learned who my friends are and some other very valuable lessons. The biggest lesson is that of the Hermit.

According to Biddy Tarot (my personal favorite tarot website for years now), the Hermit represents soul-searching, introspection, being alone, and inner guidance. Reversed it represents isolation, loneliness, and withdrawal. As an introvert, I need a larger amount of alone time than your average person. I am prone to 'hermiting' from time to time. I rarely feel isolated or lonely anymore because of things like what happened with my move. I know that I do not 'get out' much and thereby people see me through whatever filter it is they need to see me through. As a general rule, this world does not like an introvert. I'm okay with that.

Being the Hermit is so much more than just hanging out alone and learning cool stuff so that you can pass that wisdom along when others are ready.  Often, people get caught up in the alone-ness or the loneliness, but honestly, if you embody the Hermit, you'll end up feeling alone in a group of people, too. For me, the worst part of being the Hermit is being 'up the mountain'.  In many decks, the Hermit is depicted traversing rocky, mountainous areas. This is part of the mystery of the Hermit.

The Hermit stands upon his path, high in the mountains and as such, can see a larger perspective. For instance, if I am standing at sea level I am not going to see as much as the person standing at five hundred feet above sea level, just as they are not going to see as much as someone standing a thousand feet above sea level. I say this not because it is 'better'. It simply means that those who embody the Hermit have traversed further upon their own spiritual wanderings and because they are 'higher up' are further sighted than those who walk the mountains below. When one is farsighted, one often gets ignored. It is easy to miss the impending avalanche until it is too late when the snow is beginning to slide underneath your feet.

The Hermit is also aloof. That detachment is another one of the Hermit's mysteries. When embodying the Hermit, one can see the good or bad up the road and in seeing it for what it is, can remain detached. When warning others of trials up the road, this detachment helps everyone to move forward. The Hermit tends to be ignored while the trials are traversed, and when completed (or not) the Hermit either gives praise or advice, when asked.

Which brings me to another of the mysteries of the Hermit, being the person who works because the work needs to be done without thought of praise. As a culture, we are conditioned to be praise/admonishment motivated. When one feels appreciated, one always works harder. However, the Hermit does not need the praises of others to keep moving forward. The Hermit does not need others to acknowledge him or his work to feel accomplished. The Hermit sets goals and works steadily toward them to achieve them without thought of others. The Hermit does not need to hear how awesome he is. He does not need to hear how much his work means to others. He does not expect others to even notice what he is doing.

Some time ago I was told that my path would lead me to be the Hermit, as though it were a bad or scary thing. Unknown to the person telling me this, I already was. What they didn't realize they were seeing was me coming back to being comfortable in that role. I am and have always been, most comfortable with people coming to me for the lessons they need and then moving on. I have always recognized that I am different. I have always known that I am not everyone's cup of tea. I have also always recognized that I need to be around people like myself and we are so, very few and far between.

The Hermit's Walk can be a scary one. It is a lonely walk, sometimes. It is, occasionally, dark and foreboding. It can lead to a great many conversations with one's self that wouldn't be had if one were with others. The Hermit carries the lantern of wisdom and shines that light for those who need it without thought of praise or, even, community. That is simply what the Hermit does.

Brightest blessings, Friends!