I know I wrote in the past about how I frequently make judgements, but in the past few weeks I have dealt with a level of intolerance and judgement that has even given me pause for thought.
I’m talking about this idea of deciding that if you identify as Pagan or if you practise or use various complementary or alternative practices (energy healing, yoga, shamanism, etc), it means that you must also adhere to a selection of dietary, environmental and philosophical ideas. Specifically, in the past few weeks I have been told that I am a “bad Pagan” because I am a Pagan, and an energy healer, who does not agree that all hunting should be banned and I eat meat. One person insisted all hunting is always wrong, and the eating of any meat is wrong. Another (in a different forum) quite emphatically expressed the view that the only meat a person should eat is that which he hunted and killed himself.
Another, expressed the view that the person who listened to their body and chose to not eat meat was hearing “body truth” but I, on the other hand, who listened to what my body indicated it needed, and discovered I need meat protein, was indulging “false wants” which was no different than claiming my body needed overly processed needed sugary cereals. Never mind that both scenarios showed a person paying attention to the signals and messages from her body and giving her body what it needs to be healthy.
In each situation I refused to be drug into an argument about the subjects. I presented my views and left it. But these situations did give me cause to pause and think.
I suppose since the 1970s or 80s there has been an incorrect idea that a person who follows an “earth-based” religion will somehow be involved in some type of environmental or animal rights activism. But, this isn’t true at all. I know plenty of Pagan folk who are quite content in keeping their own little corner of the world clean, but don’t involve themselves in wider ranging politics. I’ve known Pagans who serve in the military, Pagans who worked in the nuclear power industry, Pagans who hunt for food. Pagans who eat at fast food golden arches. I’ve also known Pagans who can be found standing in nearly every protest march. Pagans who eschew all animal products. Pagans who wouldn’t put anything in or on their body that contained anything artificial. Some are friends of mine.
What each of those friends has in common is their ability to tolerate the differing views of others. They know that life is not one size fits all. My vegan friends, and son, do not try to get me to give up eating meat, and I don’t try to get them to start eating it again. My environmental activist friends don’t invite me out on the picket line, and I do what little bits I can by recycling (and using recycled products) and buying free range meats when my budget can afford it.
Pagan folk come in all different shapes, sizes, colours, hold a variety of ethical and philosophical ideas, and have different dietary needs. What other Pagans do may conflict with what you do. That doesn’t mean either of you is less of a Pagan for it.
Something to keep in mind the next time you find yourself thinking “He isn’t really a Pagan because…”