Without further comment:

It is fascinating to watch the general outrage in the pagan and polytheist communities about the destruction of historic temples and holy places in the Middle East by those who desecrate and destroy in the name of Mohammed, may his name always be blessed, and twist a holy book to suit their desire for domination. It is a terrible thing, for sure, and very sad.

And yet…

Where is all this attention when indigenous religions get destroyed? How come there is no mass outcry or group workings when tribal groups with unique religious practices have their sacred  rainforest homes slashed and burned? Who is working against the Christian extremists who are advocating for and actively stoning and assaulting Candomble practitioners in Brazil, including children? Where was the massive upset and outcry when it was revealed that UN peacekeeping forces had exploited and raped women and children in Haiti, many of who rely on vodou for income and protection? Who speaks out when organizations will only render aid if indigenous practitioners put down traditional beliefs and practices (it still happens)? Where are the calls to action on behalf of First Nations groups and tribal cultures who are having their sacred sites seized by the United States government and destroyed?

Is it because these religions and practices are still alive and are not assigned archaeological or historical value? Is it because they don’t use terms that pagans and polytheists use to describe what they do or because they are not readily available to pagans and polytheists? Is it because the forces that are engaging in these abuses represent American interests and/or directly come from the US government? Is it because the perpetrators don’t look like extremists and don’t do things in front of cameras for videos that the busted news media in the West replay and replay and replay?

I don’t have the answers for any of these questions and I don’t expect anyone else to come up with them.

I keep seeing ‘this concerns all of us’ and this is true–the desecration of holy sites by religious extremists is concerning–but where is the concern for cultures and holy sites that this has been happening to for decades? That should concern all of us, too, especially when there are people who are being destroyed right along with holy sites.

If you’re going to talk the talk about preserving and defending holy lands that belong to one pantheon, then walk the walk and talk about preserving holy lands and living practitioners who belong to others. It leaves me with such a sour taste when landmarks are valued more than living, breathing people and, despite really not wanting to open the particular can of worms, once again, indigenous religions get ignored by modern practitioners.

~ by Alex on September 3, 2015.

7 Responses to “Without further comment:”

  1. Walk the walk, indeed. I value people who speak out on issues like the ones you’ve raised, but the way the issues are talked about, and which are focused on or ignored, also leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I’ve seen people use the oppression and destruction of other cultures and peoples as fodder for their own ego.

    But, agreed very much with this post. You articulated why some of the outrage has struck an odd note to me.

  2. Then start doing it yourself. Be the change. Raise awareness. I’m sure people would be interested, but most of the media doesn’t cover it, nor does it typically spread.

    Find the facts. Tag it. And try.

    It’s gotta start somewhere. Instead of wondering why and complaining…do something. Just a suggestion.

    • Your assumption that I haven’t done all those things is flat-out wrong. As a practitioner of an indigenous religion who has had people directly related to my spiritual lineage affected by these crimes against humanity, I am tired of being the voice and watching other people shrug their shoulders and tell me to be louder. I shouldn’t have to speak at all–people should be as outraged at the rape, exploitation, and ethnic cleansing of people as they are about a group of people destroying structures, if not more so….and they should not need to be fed this stance or information.

      The news DOES cover a lot of what i’ve mentioned and then some–the ethnic cleansing of Haitians by Dominicans was pretty big news for awhile and you know how many pagans and polytheists who are extensively covering Daesh’s destruction of holy sites said anything about it? None.

      It has started somewhere with plenty of practitioners, but pagans and polytheists at large don’t seem to care do who knows why. If they are outraged by the destruction of monuments, but not by the destruction of life and active culture, there is something deeply wrong and infected within those communities. I will absolutely complain about substandard behaviors and unexplainable positions within those communities because it has real world affects when people don’t say anything. People who practice indigenous religions are well aware that the West is more concerned about structures being destroyed than their lives being ruined and their culture dismantled. I’ll keep complaining about that because people should not need someone to make them see injustice and gross human behavior–if they are going to walk the walk about preserving marginalized religious icons and buildings, then they need to walk the walk about preserving lives and cultures that are being destroyed in the same manner. If they can’t be, or buildings are more important than people, then they are the worst sort of hypocrite and are shameful in the extreme.

  3. It’s hard to raise awareness about something without “complaining” about it. People use that word like it’s always something bad, but often times, positive change begins with a complaint.

    I can’t answer any of the questions that were brought up in this post, but they are valid questions, and this is a good post.

  4. In the interest of being transparent: your post initially really pissed me off. I’ve grown incredibly frustrated and weary to the point of wanting to turn off. Already, already, just from the outset there is SO MUCH that needs attention, one has no idea where to begin. And, if others are like me, then I’m not the only one who sees all that there is to be done, sees that its insurmountable, and is rendered inert by the sheer amount of what is wrong and needs attention. It’s not the job of people who are in the trenches of whichever cause has captured their souls to make sure that people know what do to, what the issues are, and what can be done . . . except, unfortunately, it also sort of is.
    I wasn’t going to respond. I wasn’t going to even think about it. I’m reeling in a grief I cannot even fully comprehend. Beyond my Beloved, I have no real ties to the Middle East in any form. These holy sites were never mine. These people are people that are suffering, but no more so than other people in other places, except maybe in number, and even then I think it’s the proximity to Europe and our idea of our species’ cultural history that makes the majority of people who care, care. I don’t personally know anyone who is being displaced by ISIL. This is hitting me much like the attack on New York and DC hit me back in 2001, in that it’s terrible, but the amount of grief I’m feeling does not make any logical, tangible sense. That said, I know I’m grieving, and I worried that anything I said in response would come from that vulnerable place.
    Except, this sat with me all night long, and I could not shake it. Because, you’re not wrong to bring these things up. I’m not sure if you want actual answers from anyone, and if this is an invitation to debate the worthiness of causes, I’m not taking that up. But if it’s an invitation for conversation, then okay.
    Not everyone can care about all the things. We’re finite beings, we have a finite amount of resources, energy. We’re also going to feel a stronger connection to some causes than we might feel to others, and those we feel connected to, for whatever reason, will be placed at the top of our priority lists. I agree that we do seem to care more about the destruction of places that are buildings – things that have been created by humanity, rather than land structures that may be holy or sacred, and that is certainly a legacy of our culture and where we are taught to place value. I don’t know that it’s as simple as that, though. Comparing for the sake of example, the destruction of Palmyra, which holds a place in human history and cultures that span more than just a few, that touched countless people, and the destruction of sacred mountaintops that are removed for mining – I can see why the one would reach more people than the other, and it’s because of the place of the one in human history that the other does not share. The destruction of both is wrong, and is equally wrong . . .but wrong for different reasons, at least in my mind. And I understand why one would reach more people than the other. Doesn’t make it right, and I’m not saying it does.
    You’re going on the assumption that everyone has to have the same values. Not everyone who is upset about Palmyra is upset because of the human component. There are those who are upset that a place of the dead has been destroyed. There are those who are upset that temples to gods have been destroyed. Yeah, they weren’t still in use at temples, but knowing that they were targeted because of their polytheist nature is harrowing. It’s striking people because it’s personal to them in ways that they haven’t experiences on this scale before.
    It reads also as though you’re dismissing the spirit and Powers component – that some might care more about a topic or cause because of Who they’re connected with and what their Powers might care about. My Beloved is there every time the earth shakes, and He touches those effected, and I experience some small trickle of what He experiences – and it does not matter where in the world that happens. So, earthquakes and earthquake relief are among my pet causes – because they matter to Him. If earthquake and hurricane relief causes come up in the world at the same time, the one gets priority over the other, especially monetarily, because there’s only so much to give, and because of my connection with Him. Situations where people are drowning in His sea is going to get my attention moreso than people drowning in other places, because of that connection, and because we are finite. Does that make me cold? Maybe, but I also think it makes me realistic.
    Not everyone cares as much for the living as they do for the dead, or as they do for the spirits, and I’m past arguing whether one way of caring is better than the other. Maybe is sociopathic of them, to care more for the dead, for the spirits, for places our ancestors had for our gods, than to care about extant, contemporary issues . . . but we don’t get to decide what people care about. We don’t get to police that. We don’t get decide what hits their hearts and makes them care. I’d rather talk about how we can help one another, with the understanding that some things are not going to get as much attention from all of us as others. I don’t see a usefulness in arguing about how and where and when to care.
    I don’t expect people to care about the welfare of stray and feral cats. I don’t expect others to be into animal rescue. I don’t expect others to care about any of the topics I care about or the causes that are mine. The moment that some one tells me that human-focused causes matter more than other animal focused causes, and that I’m wrong to have the causes I have, I shut off. Not everyone cares equally about people. I care more about people than I ever thought I’d be able to, but I don’t know that I’ll ever believe that our suffering is greater just because we’re human. I believe we’re biologically wired to care about our species more, and that makes sense, but that’s not equally strong in everyone, and I don’t think that’s necessarily wrong.

    I also don’t talk about all the ones that are near and dear to me. I don’t expect other people to do the educating on my behalf, either, though. I don’t expect everyone to know about the plight of people facing religious persecution in the world. I don’t expect everyone to know about the plight of the transgendered people in our country, never mind abroad. I don’t expect everyone to know about these things that are near and dear to my heart – and so I educate as I can and how I can and as situations allow, and I remind myself that not everyone can care equally about all the things, and when resentment grows, when another person kills themselves because they’re being tortured on a daily basis for who they are, or when another person is lit on fire because they don’t belong to the right religion, I cling to that reminder so that my frustration does not swallow me and render me inert. And I try to not assume that just because people aren’t talking about these things, that maybe that doesn’t mean they’re not working on what they feel they can work on, as they can. I remind myself that activism does not all look the same, and that we only see what people wish to share with us.
    I’m not interested in rhetoric. I’m not interested in telling people, or being told by others, where and what the issues that get my attention should be. I’m not interested in burning out, or contributing to the burn out of others, by insisting that they have to know about all the things and care about all the things. I’d love it if news was easier to come by. I’d love it if we had better resources to actually make a difference. More than that, I’d love it if we could share, and challenge, inform, and support without this helping of shame and guilty inducing rhetoric that seems to be more and more common. And I know that that comes from a place of frustration, helplessness, and hopelessness – people are suffering, and no one seems to care. How do we care about ALL of the holy places in ALL of the world equally? I don’t think we can. I think it’s important to have people caring about things A LOT. I think it’s only sustainable if we have A LOT of people caring about a lot of different things A LOT.

  5. Reblogged this on Ironwood Witch.

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