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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

Discipline, the Modern Pagan, and power from victimhood

This is a page from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at www.neowayland.com/C65989237/E20060722013450

What makes the so many modern pagans fluffy? And why don't they seem to want more?

There is an old saying that the difficult truths are the only ones that must be told.

I've tried several times in the last couple of weeks to write this post. It keeps coming out wrong. So I am going to sit here and hammer this one out once and for all so I can concentrate on other things that I want to say. It's probably going to be shorter than I wanted, but there are only so many times I can rewrite the thing.

Before I get too deep, I want to say that I absolutely despise classifying people, their abilities, and their accomplishments based on membership in some group. I am an individualist. As far as I am concerned, we are human. To understand the poisonous mindset, it's necessary to put that viewpoint aside for a bit and wade into meaningless yet influential group distinctions.

I read Shelby Steele's excellent White Guilt. While not a pagan book, it gave me excellent insight into American life over the last few decades, and helped focus some of my own realizations. Most of it doesn't apply in a pagan context, with one very important exception.

The rise of the popular forms of modern paganism are tied into the rise of the feminist movement that followed the success of the 1960s civil rights movement. Feminism (and paganism through feminism) borrowed some of the best and worst ideas of the civil rights movement for it's own purposes.

One idea was power through victimhood because of past crimes committed against one group by members of another.

Before you tell me that doesn't apply, go find someone talking about "Never again the Burning Times!"

For "power through victimhood" to be successful, it's not enough to have an "oppressed victim," there also has to be a public acknowledgment of guilt by the powerful and a lingering guilt. "PTV" gains it's moral authority only through guilt, otherwise it runs smack dab into the morals and ethics of the majority.

To simplify, American blacks had a legitimate grievance. That isn't necessarily so for American feminists, and it probably isn't so for American pagans. It is the difference between oppression and repression.

Paganism was a good way for repressed women to explore the Sacred Feminine and experience the Divine instead of having it handed to them through a patriarchal framework. Since many pagans celebrate the Female Aspects of Divinity, of course we took joy as the ladies took center stage and found themselves.

But all things have destruction wrapped in creation. The power wasn't in the victimhood. It never was. Overcoming victimhood could be the first gate to power. Some took power from the victimhood itself, never realizing that their "strength" depended entirely on the guilty pity of others. Without that guilt and pity, the "moral authority" collapsed.

This wasn't just in paganism of course. Much of Western culture and society was undergoing the same growing pangs. So to preserve the "power through victimhood" of certain groups, permanent victim groups were enshrined. Blacks first. Then other minority groups. Then women (of course). And finally alternative religions. With a pecking order firmly established, it became the Progressive Thing to make sure that the victim groups and the pecking order were universally established. If some members of the victim groups weren't quite good enough, that was okay, they had been through enough. Allowances would be made.

That in turn introduced our second and third tier problems. Members of the victim groups weren't expect to be "as good" as the majority. Excuses were made for their failures. They were never held personally responsible.

Imagine that. By virtue of victimhood and belonging to a recognized victim group, someone could be excused from being an adult and taking responsibility for themselves.

I want to stress that the victimhood was never universal. Many people soon learned to move beyond victimhood and into individual excellence.

But for those who didn't, they never realized it was a trap. Some of them still don't.

Fast forward a few decades.

Now some areas have schools that cherish victimhood of certain groups before the kids are old enough to understand if they are even victims at all. Being a social victim means that others will look out for you and that you are not fully human.

Nor can you be fully trusted. Even if your victimhood grants you "moral authority" and exceptions from the rules.

Other kids see that being a victim is the easy path. Even if you don't know the answers, they will be provided to you in a timely manner. And if you can't be bothered to learn them this time around, that is okay. You've had a hard victimhood.

The end result are people who not only don't know the answers, but expect those answers to be provided on demand. And they want a second chance to take any tests, only this time with crib sheets.

It's not their fault that this is how they were taught.

It's their fault if they do not change once their path demands more.

Master the discipline or be mastered by the victimhood.

Bright & Dark Blessings, everyone.

Posted: Fri - July 21, 2006 at 09:34 PM

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A narrow slice of life, but now and again pondering American neopaganism, modern adult pagans & the World.

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