Acceptance: Not Just Tolerance
Author: Aliana Soulfire
I have been a witch (in-progress, really) for six years. My parents were “Christians” or like to think they were, at any rate. But at just barely sixteen I found something new, something that called to my soul. And that was paganism, and magick.
At the beginning of December 2006, I was married in a handfasting-type ceremony I wrote myself. My mother was displeased when she first heard this, but I stood my ground. It was a ceremony I could feel connected to, one in which I could actually feel like I was making a binding between two souls, not just repeating lines. But I digress.
This is about acceptance. Please do not misunderstand me. By acceptance I do not mean that you have to worship everything. I mean, maybe we, as in the world, should accept the fact that maybe the gods for each different religion actually exist. Doesn’t mean we all have to pay respects to each one. Just means they are out there.
Most people, on every side, think I’m a lunatic for saying such things. But really, acknowledging that Allah exists doesn’t make you a Muslim. Acknowledging the Christians’ god is the same.
Saying that Isis, Diana, Ra, The God or Goddess, or any one of them is real doesn’t mean you’re going to have to start burning incense and saying spells to the midnight moon.
What if they all exist, and we just quietly and peacefully choose to worship who we will?
There are flaws to any religion, regardless of who thinks what. There are zealots, too. The Muslim terrorists. The Christians who forced their religion on so many cultures from the past. And the modern Witches/Pagans/Wiccans bad-mouthing Christians constantly.
So what if their God exists? Should it bother you?
If you know in your heart that Diana watches over you, or that your spells work, great! If not, maybe you should study up on lots of different paths and find one that speaks to you.
The anger and hatred we have spread over the world because of religious differences is causing pain everywhere.
I personally think tolerance is just a nicer way to be condescending to another person or people. Seriously, look at what ‘tolerate’ means: to put up with. Now that doesn’t even sound nice. If someone tells another person his/her god doesn’t exist or that he/she is going to hell, it’s more than likely that person is the one who is insecure in his/her own beliefs. But I’m sure most people who read this will disagree.
Look at this country; we can’t even have a war protest that is peaceful. It hurts that we can’t seem to see a different way of life. Look to our future. What do we want our children to believe? That violence is the only way to succeed?
Let go of all the grudges you hold. We have to teach our children that peace is attainable, and the more we teach that, the more the idea will take hold in their hearts. I want this world to be a better place for my kids, when I finally have them. And I still have the hope that it can be.
But it requires effort. Lots of effort, a ton of open-mindedness, and a heart big enough to never give up. Peace is real, and it doesn’t take having a war to gain it. There will be bad people in the world, no matter what we do. Don’t hate everyone else just because of them. Don’t judge based on the worst people or actions of that society.
Seriously, though, there is nothing wrong about having faith in a specific god or group of gods. It shouldn’t matter. We should all respect the difference, of course, but please, don’t fight over faiths or paths.
Just picture this: Our children are all grown, and they didn’t have to suffer through what a lot of us did. On the television there is news of a tenth annual Paths Festival, where people from every religion can go to study, meet others, learn, and enjoy being together. The energy in the air is vibrant, full of life, tranquility, and happiness. You walk out the door wearing your cross or pentacle, or Star of David; you wear it with pride, instead of leaving it at home in fear.
While, of course, there would still be fighting over something, at least that would be one less thing we’d try to battle over. Life will never be springtime forever. As humans, we are obsessed about differences in everyone else. Celebrate those differences. Celebrate life. If we do that, it may help.
Look at our past and present for proof that we need to change. The Middle East has been torn by war with its own people for centuries. Christians killed in the name of god. Jews have had a horrible history of being oppressed by many different peoples. And today in our society, the Middle East is still in conflict.
In America, this country of the “free”, you are looked on with suspicion if you have a Quran, or worship Allah. You are “weird” or a “devil-worshipper” if you wear a pentacle. You are strange or bad for being different than the ruling powers.
What is the good of this free country if we deny those who seek that freedom? We are supposed to welcome people with open arms, not look down on them, or wrongly accuse them.
We have sauntered right off the path our forefathers tried to lay down for us. Thomas Jefferson, a man who owned a Quran, freed his slaves and above all, believed in freedom for the masses. He is what Americans today should be. Open-minded, accepting.
Our American Muslims should not have to live in fear of being thought a terrorist. Our Pagans should not fear Christians denouncing them. Our Christians should not focus on converting the whole country. That was not the original purpose.
Someday everyone will understand what I mean. A better way to peace. A better life for our children. They should be able to bring Qurans, Bibles, or their Book of Shadows to school with them. They should not fear rejection for being themselves, for following their hearts.
No one should ever have to fear that. Least of all, our future.