So, this was inspired by a little discussion I got into in the comments of Rogue Priest’s article Making a Religion Competitive. You can read it in the comments, but it basically came down to one dude (an atheist) begging for Pagans to not try and convert people because I don’t want it, me responding “screw you, our people need numbers, I’m for it,” and the dude trying to figure out why I wanted the numbers game when empathy was the solution, not tribalism. The conversation ended when he said clearly we were going to disagree and snootily hoping I had fun chasing power.
In my series on the Nine Noble Virtues, I talked about the virtue of Realism. Here’s what’s real. If we’re really, really, really lucky, the numbers of Pagans and Heathens out there might, might, be the same number as Jews or Muslims in the US. Which, really, isn’t that much, when you think about it. Problem is, both the Jews and the Muslims have national and international organizations to push their agendas, not to mention having theological ties with Christianity, which is the predominant religion in the US. So when it comes down to it, they got a leg up. And really, neither group, or Christianity is that friendly to Paganism. Jews might be mostly content to ignore Pagans (but let them near Heathens and, well, you’re gonna hear Nazi beings screamed all over the place :P). Muslims, on the other hand, don’t seem to know we’re about much, but those that do you can bet as a rule, are not friendly to Paganism, seeing as its existence is a direct insult to Allah. And the Christians just plain don’t like us.
And of course, when it comes down to it, we don’t really have much to draw allies. Unlike the GLBT community, which is apparently rather wealthy and capable of influencing politics via the twin forces of money and labeling anyone who doesn’t bend over as a “homophobes,” or the Black community, which has numbers and the capability of labeling anyone who stands in their way as a racist, we Pagans/Heathens really don’t have much on the table. We don’t, as a rule, have money. And (thank the gods) we haven’t bothered or have failed spectacularly at building any sort of “paganophobia” charges on those who don’t like us. (Despite the fact that there is more “paganophobia” in the world than “homophobia” or “islamophobia”). As a rule, we’re considered dangerous Satan worshipers by those on the “Right” and as insane quacks by the predominantly atheistic “Left.” Oh, a few groups on the left might court us, but despite the often slavish obsession with many a Pagan for “liberal” and “progressive” politics….said liberals and progressives are all to happy to throw us to the wolves (as pagan gate showed back in the earlier parts of the elections) when it’s politically expedient.
Clearly, Empathy is not going to be working for us.
So, what is our option then, since good will seems lacking and little more than a pipe dream?
More specifically, Power in Numbers. There’s a lot of people out there who are dissatisfied with the Church, who are longing for something spiritual and uplifting and meaningful. They’re all alone in a big scary world full of nightmares that as hard as they hide from they can’t shake off. They’re bombarded with the idea that there is no god out there. They’re separated from family, tossed all over the place, and bury themselves in things like facebook in an attempt to feel connected with people while at the same time limiting themselves to people who make them feel good about themselves. Kids, teens, and young adults coming up in a world that’s given them the short end of the stick and don’t really know anything about making it out there (assuming there’s a way to make it where we have catastrophic unemployment, and jobs are going predominantly to older people with more experience, thereby locking out entry level jobs to those that need entry level positions to try and get anywhere). They’re looking for a sense of belonging, purpose, and a way to move forwards.
We Pagans and Heathens have a perfect product to give them. Lives of the earth, the present, filled with a push towards family, spirituality, togetherness, and a reason to live good lives with mighty deeds. Why shouldn’t we tell them about it? Why should we hide in our homes? Because we don’t want to be like the Christians, pushing our religion on people?
Guess what, in the market place of ideas, he who sells is he who gets consumers. If we don’t put Paganism and Heathenism out there, then no one is going to come. They’re going to give up and go to the guys selling the same crap they’ve been selling for the last fifteen hundred years that got us into so much of this mess. And the only thing that will change is that Paganism will be ground down until we’re nothing again. The only way to ensure that Pagan Religions survive is to propagate them!
This means we get out there, we tell people about Pagan and Heathen religions. We sell our paths, and other Pagan paths. We show just what good they do in this world, and we do it even if people tell us to shut up. Because we have a right to exist and for our voice to be heard. We have a right to share and bring back the lost to the fold. And we have to start teaching our children about our religions, people! I am sick of this bullshit about “not forcing our religion on our kids” because if we don’t teach them, someone else will!
The only chance we have to make our voice heard is to make sure there are enough people speaking it. It’s a numbers game people. Either we play to win, or we’re gonna lose simply by refusing to step up to the table. I for one, and not playing to lose.