There's a cycle in the Pagan blogosphere that needs to be interrupted. This or that public figure of Paganism stumbles, mildly or majorly, anything from making an offensive statement to doing something seriously unethical and even illegal. More than half the time, I think to myself "Who is this person, and why should I care?" But one by one, many take it upon themselves to step up and denounce or defend to demonstrate their upholding of ethics, Real Paganism(tm) or Loyalty and Respect for Our Elders (tm) Then we get upset about which "sides" our favorite bloggers, authors, festival presenters have taken, or not taken and there's another wave of backlash. I admit to taking part in this, but this last couple times I hesitated. What impact does my speaking or writing on this have? Is this person accountable to me? Do they follow the same value system as me? Do they represent my tradition or organization? Can I have a face to face conversation with them? 

I often put more thought into my writing than my speech. I try to talk quickly to get in all the words I want to and end up sounder more foolish as a result. The Druidic virtue of eloquence is certainly one I need to work on! I know my Wiccan compatriots have a saying about "Speak ye little, listen much" and the title of this blog post refers to the Witches' Pyramid, To Know, To Will, and To Keep Silent. I guess To Speak falls under To Will- it's not my pyramid, so y'all might have to explain it to me.

As Thanksgiving approached, I saw more and more from my activist friends and organizations about how to talk about racial justice, American Indian genocide and other light-hearted topics at the dinner table with your relatives. While it all seemed very noble and well-intended, I thought "You don't know my relatives, you don't know why or how I celebrate Thanksgiving and what it means to me and my family. You don't have to deal with the consequences of opening more than a can of pumpkin puree at Thanksgiving."

I thought about how sometimes Pagans seem to think that we are all sitting at the same virtual Thanksgiving table, deciding whether to speak up or keep silent towards the same elders, teenagers and people in between. Nope. I'm not at the Bay Area Reclaiming Thanksgiving table. Or the Massachusetts Theodish Heathen Yule table. Or the British OBOD Druid Martinmas table. I can't tell you what food is traditional to serve, what is a proper conversation topic, the table manners, the ritual etiquette, and how much deference or egalitarian spirit you display towards elders, if you even have a concept of elderhood. 

If the Northern Dawn Covenant of the Goddess folks put on a well-done ritual that I attend, I'll tell them, "Well done! This is specifically what I liked about it". If I know someone pretty well in one of my communities, someone who may actually listen, and they say uncool things about Muslims, trans people, Latinos or what have you, I'll talk to them about it privately and explain why this was offensive and not OK in our community spaces, and try to understand where they got those attitudes and if and how they might be willing to change them. Even if they aren't interested in changing attitudes, they may at least change their behavior. If it's someone I don't know very well, a dirty look, raised eyebrow or talking to a mutual friend if possible about their behavior would be more effective. While this doesn't always work, I have often found that firmly but politely confronting offensive behavior and comments (using I statements) will have better results than going above the person's head to an authority. Especially with Pagans, we all know how much Pagans love authority!