Beyond Pride: A Pagan Man’s Vision
Gay Pride, Black Pride, Latino Pride, Sister Pride. YAY!
Straight Pride, White Pride, Man Pride. BOO!
It’s all about perspective.
-All the Wrong Stuff-
Growing up I wanted to be an inventor. Freshman year there was a 3 month long “Young Scientist” camp. As soon as I heard about it I RUSHED to sign up only to be told that the program relied on Equal Opportunity Act Funding. If I had been a Woman, Gay, a Minority or practiced Hinduism or Islam there were seats waiting for me. Unfortunately, I was a Straight White Christian man. I didn’t get to go to Young Scientist Camp even though there were empty positions. Needless to say, I was hurt that I wasn’t able to do something I truly wanted because my Gender, Race, Sexual Identity and Faith weren’t the “right ones.”
-The Cycle stops with us…-
Sophomore Year in Highschool I saw a group of my classmates carrying a Freshman into a trash can. I ran over to help him. As I stopped my classmates they screamed, “but it’s haze week!”
“So what,” I asked “When you were a freshman did you get trash-canned?”
“Yeah it sucked! But now it’s OUR TURN!” They responded.
“Wouldn’t it have been cool if you’d been welcomed without the hazing?” I asked.
“Sure… whatever.” They responded.
“So then, why don’t we improve things? Let’s skip the hazing.” I finished.
As far as I hear, the tradition of hazing never made major a comeback @ Hug High School
-Understanding the Problem-
I believe in equality. REAL equality. The kind you hear about in story books. I listened to YEARS of being told that I didn’t understand the challenges of being a Woman or a Minority race/faith before I actually HEARD the truth. I DIDN’T understand the challenges of being treated as a “Second Class Citizen.”
Even in my freshman “young scientist camp” disappointment I didn’t feel like a Second Class Citizen. Even in the Ifa house mostly run by Black Women, when I was told by my Spiritual Elders flat out, that I’d have to put up with hate and distrust because I was a white man, I didn’t feel like a Second Class Citizen.
I grew up confident in my Race, my Gender and my Sexuality. (Well… at least confident that it was ok to be straight; sexuality is a matter for another article entirely. ;-)
Unfortunately what I thought was confidence in my Faith was actually pride, and as the quote goes: Pride Go-eth before a fall. I spent years seeking before I chose this unconventional spirituality where my peers tend to be Gay, Minorities, Women or all of the above.
Suddenly I started understanding the consequences to being in the minority. I lost jobs, friends and clients because of people who wouldn’t accept me as I was. Sure I could have hidden it, but I’m an Ares with SEVEN fire signs in my chart… it’s just not my way.
On top of that change, now I consistently deal with peers who feel I’m one of the bad guys. I commonly experience knock-you-down-to-feel-better-about-myself harassment at pagan events. Oddly, I’m ok with that. Here’s why.
- Climbing up to Pride –
While we think of Fear, Anger and Pride as some of the stronger emotions, the picture to the left shows you that they are actually rather low. However, perspective is everything. To someone who has lived their life in Shame, Despair and fear, pride seems pretty sweet!
Unfortunately pride tends to be divisive (I’m better than you) and that was where most Americans were. Since they have to be better than someone they lash out; and prideful people most commonly attack Minorities, Women, GBLT and “Weird Faiths.”
Constantly being bullied pushes people into lower emotions. Sure we can be strong and overcome, but many don’t. Unfortunately, we can't be lifted back up. The ladder needs to be climbed step by step, and the easiest position to quickly climb and hold onto is PRIDE.
THIS is the reason our country needs Gay Pride, Sister Pride, Black Pride, Latino Pride, and PAGAN PRIDE. These pride organizations offer people beacons to a place where they can begin building REAL CONFIDENCE. We see White Pride or Man Pride as a negative thing because most people are confident that it’s ok to be White and a Man. Since we are confident, we’d have to drop DOWN the ladder to be in pride.
- Courageous Change! -
For decades our society held our neighbors and sisters down to maintain the same pride that gave my gender, national and sexual identities a HUGE jumpstart. Thankfully, there a lot of evidence that as a nation we are stepping up into courage. Courage doesn’t need to push people down anymore. Even better, the closer to real confidence that courage gets, the less it is bothered by the bullying of prideful people.
So here is where we are. My courage and confidence were built from a pride maintained by holding many of you down. I wasn’t one of the people who joined in this, and I don’t apologize for the actions of others. However, when I am in a circle with someone and their anger or pride causes them to lash out at me, I intend to remember that my strength was built on their suffering… and be supportive.
- The Vision -
I can see a day when I am part of a culture whose members have grown past the need to hurt each other. I can see us continuing this awesome journey toward truly understanding ourselves and each other.
Finally, every once in a while, I catch a glimpse of the powerful, loving, bright souls that we truly are… and I dream of the day in which that vision is commonplace.
Power Before Wisdom