Dialectic Battlefield

I have been pondering for a few days now if I want to respond to any of the pagan blogosphere-drama surrounding Rhyd Wildermuth, Gods & Radicals, and the New right. Tony Rella posted an excellent and well-measured meta-response today:

Some Thoughts on Civil Discourse .

I love the perspective Tony has provided, and I think that he has said almost all of what I found myself wanting to say. My emotional energy was neither in being offended by Rhyd's essay, nor in being upset by the distress and angst it caused. My personal emotional bias is towards finding harmony inside dissonant perspectives. The dissonance of these many blog posts (only a few of which I could bring myself to read) caused me discomfort and distress.

What I would like to say, is that when we begin to attack each other, I feel as though we are unworthy of the Gods attention and blessing. We each have the right to our feelings, and I think there is importance to expressing not only our dispassionate rational thoughts on a subject, but our feelings and passions as well.

Where I think we go wrong is not in letting our passions drive us, but in becoming trapped in our projections and inferences. It is perhaps a cliche, but if you are looking to be attacked, you will see it anywhere. I know, because I spent much of my teen years in a near-constant state of trauma, reading almost every interaction with my peers as an assault, even the ones that weren't.

And that is what we must struggle to avoid, although it is certainly challenging even in the best of circumstances. I've written before of how I think our obsession with control is troubling. I feel the same way in this regard. I think that a great deal of the way we lash out within our discourse has to do with a misguided need to control the way we are feeling. We perceive that we have been attacked, that we have been hurt or insulted. As important as our pain, is our need to control the situation. I believe this is a big part of our urge towards violence as well. We've been hurt, so we desire to retaliate, to take control of our experience and mitigate our loss of agency (having violence done to us), by taking agency away from others (doing violence to them).

Interestingly though, surrendering to how we are feeling gives us the opportunity to understand why we are hurting more fully. And with that understanding we are able to respond from a place of poise rather than one of defensiveness. And we are able to respond in a way that is in line with our goals and our ethics. Surprisingly, this is a situation where surrendering control actually guides us very organically into a place of agency and control.

Which leads me to my final thought for the moment. As I was pondering the pagan-internet-distress for the last few days, I did something that I think I should do more often. I listened to the people who weren't chiming in. It turns out, most of the people I really respect and care for in the pagan community kept their mouths shut. Either via flat out declaration that they want no part of the drama, or by not indicating they are even aware of it. And at least one of them I believe was completely unaware.

And I think that's what I'm feeling is most important in all of this. We need the discourse we're having. Don't ever think we don't. Rhyd, whether you agree or disagree, is bringing up topics that need to be discussed and thought about. But we don't need to engage that discourse from a place of ego, and we don't need to armor ourselves in the drama of the conversation. We do not need to see the discourse as a battle. We do not need to see ourselves or our traditions as being under attack. The story of war, whether it be physical or dialectic, is not useful. It only serves the Patriarchy, it only serves to divide and destroy. The wages of war are death and the profit is in opportunity. But that model is not the only one, and we should cease engaging with it as if it were.

And the best way to refuse to engage is not to enter the battlefield. Tony managed to stand upon the sidelines, he found a way to be a mediator and medic. I like to think that I am doing the same with this post. I see the battle. I acknowledge that it is happening. But I do not believe it needs to happen or that it is real.