Thursday, June 04, 2015

On *A* Pagan Community Statement on the Environment

If you’re reading this, you’ve seen notifications of a Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.  Inspired by the environmental statement released by CoG in 2014 and statements from other religious organizations, blogger John Halstead invited 66 assorted Pagans, about 48 of whom collaborated on the piece that became the final product.

The final statement was a months-long, complex collaboration of diverse Pagans.  That fact in itself is, to me, remarkable, given that Pagans can be a fractious lot.  For me personally, the fact that this exists demonstrates a certain sense of solidarity.  We Pagans are a fringe demographic, and each Pagan path, sect, and individual is an even smaller fringe demographic.  We tend to work hard at distinguishing ourselves one from the other.  And that tends to fragment us as a demographic.  So when this many Pagans from many Pagan perspectives can come together and manage to agree on something of paramount importance to all of us, and to publicly proclaim our stance — well, that speaks to a stronger presence in society, and perhaps a louder, clearer voice not usually heard in the clamor of other Abrahamic dominion-inclined, religio-spiritual voices.  I think Pagans bring an important perspective to society.  And I think if this small effort can grow big enough, we might actually make a difference beyond ourselves.  Needless to say, this statement is meant to be noticed. 

No doubt there are positions articulated in the statement that do not precisely reflect yours or others’ viewpoint.  For some, the statement isn’t strong enough on certain topics.  However, it’s amazingly thorough, and universal enough to have garnered signatures from a variety of Pagans around the world, as well as from Buddhists, Anglicans, UUs, CRs, African Diaspora, Heathens, and interfaith colleagues.  I’m also bringing it to the special attention of my Hindu interfaith colleagues.

Of course, all the words in the world won’t make a difference unless we follow them with action.

To those who say they’re already onboard: they recycle, conserve energy, drive a Prius, commute by bike, donate to environmental causes, and vote Green, I say huzzah!  Good for you for doing this and for setting an example for others.

As important and valuable as those behaviors are, they make barely a blip on the screen of environmental degradation.  These address what I see, if I may presume to say so, as ‘first world’ problems. 

We[1] are the ones who over-consume.  We are the ones eating more than we need, dining on delicacies shipped from around the world.  We are the ones obsessed with electronic devices that consume lots of energy, much from coal and other ‘dirty’ sources.  We are the ones needlessly consuming fossil fuel by driving six blocks to the supermarket or ‘convenience’ store in our SUVs occupied by a single person to get some milk when it’s run out.  We are the ones filling our water treatment facilities with throw-away wipes that clog up the works.  We are the ones tossing vaccine-contaminated diapers into our ever-expanding landfills.  We are the ones using IVF that results in litters.

To those whose reason for declining to respond is that they’re “not a public Pagan,” that their spirituality is personal, I ask you to consider these lyrics:

Blessed be and blessed are those who dance together.
Blessed be and blessed are those who dance alone.
Blessed be and blessed are those who work in silence.
Blessed be and blessed are those who shout and scream.
Blessed be and blessed are the movers and the shakers.
Blessed be and blessed are the dreamers and the dream.

~ Paula Walowitz

Dancing alone, working in silence, dreaming – these Pagans are all part of our larger Pagan demographic.  Not all of us is either suited or called to be the least bit public.  We are no better or worse Pagan for choosing a private spiritual life.  That said, our ecosystems are shared; thus, I see it as the obligation of each of us to do whatever we can to maintain its sustainability and viability.  Recycling, voting Green, donating are all good, but in the bigger picture they don't make a huge difference. Not any more than this remarkable statement makes without follow-up in the real world.

Signing a document that states things you agree with is not “doing public pagan stuff.”  What it is, however, is standing with others in the face of a dire situation, and standing together makes for a stronger force.  Witness the diverse Pagan population who created it.  Not folks who often stand as one.  No one's personal spirituality is compromised in the least when she signs a document that serves the entire planet.

We have no choice about sharing this planet.  If we love life, it seems only right to respect what makes it possible, what makes us possible.  One itty-bitty way of showing that love and support, commitment and concern, is to add your name to this statement.

I have lots of ideas for building upon this statement now that we've managed to create a semblance of kinship.  I hope others will also employ their ideas, creativity, and magic to take this statement beyond the articulation stage. 

Blessings of the living land,

[1]   By “we” I mean American Pagans in general, as well as international Pagans who are well enough off to have access to the Web.