My original topic for the Pagan Blog Project this week was meant to be on Arthuriana, but as I sit here in the waiting room, I want to discuss something else.
Acceptance is something I struggle with from day to day. Whether it be my religious identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other of my personal factors of identification, I regularly question them and wonder the necessity of revealing them to anyone, though especially those closest to me.
Today, though, as I sit here and wait, I know that it is time to try to let go of these details and try to accept them as they are, rather than attempt to rationalize them into something they are not or even something less than they truly are.
Acceptance is something that is often discussed in the PPRW communities but rarely practice. We preach the idea of accepting everyone in our communities but then rail against those with less palatable identities, such as Satanists or “fluffy bunnies” or those we deem lesser in some way. But those who rail hardest, I’ve found while interacting with others in our communities, are those who preach hardest, too. It’s as if, in many cases, we want to be accepted by the larger world community and so we refuse a safe space for those with no other community outlet. And that is not what our community should strive for.
I think that, while learning to accept ourselves as individuals, we must also try to accept those in our community who we may not initially have thought of as a Pagan or a Polytheist, a Recon or a Witch. But when someone one comes to us and introduces themselves as a Pagan of some flavor, we should nod and take that as their identity. Practice the acceptance that we preach.
This is not to say that communication should not take part, however. I fully believe in the necessity if speech, of interaction, and of discussion. By engaging with one another, we strengthen ourselves and our community.
And yet, we should be smart as well. There are some people who attempt to take advantage of our communities and prey on others. Abusers of power and situation who are poisonous to our goals, as individuals and as a group. I do not advocate blind acceptance but, rather, educated interaction and acceptance. This is where our communication comes in. Asking questions, learning warning signs in behaviors, keeping an eye out for ourselves and for each other. An educated idea of what it means to Pagans who follow a path less palatable by the wider communities, rather than the knee jerk reaction of refusal and ignorance that I have seen so many times before.
It is tiring to see such pain in the community because of fear. Fear of what others think, of what we might be seen like by the larger world when these differences should bond us, not separate us.