Thursday, January 8, 2015

Respect and Disrespect, Do Pagans Today Understand These Words?

Respect: noun
1. a particular, detail, or point (usually preceded by in):
to differ in some respect.
2. relation or reference:
inquiries with respect to a route.
3. esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability:
I have great respect for her judgment.
4. deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment:
respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.

Disrespect: noun
1. lack of respect; discourtesy; rudeness.
verb (used with object)
  1. to regard or treat without respect; regard or treat with contempt or rudeness.

It is widely stated by many younger Pagans that they do not have to respect Pagan Elders and then they turn around and show disrespect believing that is the exact opposite when it is not. Discourtesy, rudeness and contempt are a far cry from not holding someone in esteem. To those who say they do not have to hold me in respect, I say, fine but I do not have to put up or will put up with out and out disrespect. Managing to survive X number of years may not grant acknowledgment, but if in doing so you fought the good fights, stood up for the rights of others, manifested into the real world real changes and things of worth to many, that should be respected if only out of proper acceptance or courtesy. It does not matter if you agree with those accomplishments, simple common courtesy dictates basic level respect.

Ah, but we live in the internet age where hiding behind a screen name every troll and his sister can ignore a disagreement of principles and ideas and go straight to character assassination, and his or her minions pile on gleefully ignorant of actual facts. And we do indeed see this played out over and over online.

Straw Men and Women

Because debating is a lost art in today's world as is teaching logic and reasoning all too often the response to disagreement on someone's position is to get up a totally made up profile of that person and then attack that rather than debate the actual ideas and concepts. This is what passes for debate these days and pretty much assures that actual learning beyond what ever prejudices you personally hold is rendered impossible. It is an extension of the recent concept of egalitarianism taken to illogical extremes. No, your uninformed, uneducated opinion is not equal to those of someone who did the work to be informed and educated. Informed and educated opinion can be wrong of course but if you believe it is then it your responsibility to counter in an educated and informed fashion. That is how things actually progress, learning takes place and progress is made. Newsflash, if you launch into personal attacks unprovoked because you disagree with a position they hold, you lost in the eyes of anyone who isn't a like inclined idiot. You basically just substituted bullying for discourse. You made sharing of viewpoints and ideas impossible, you took away any opportunity to actually change someone's mind or maybe work out a compromise position.
And like it or not, sometimes wisdom does come with experience and that deserves not to be disrespected, if not out and out respected.

Sexism and Ageism as Disrespect

Crones used to be respected. Once a woman reached an age where she no longer felt constrained to express herself freely because of the jeopardy of losing a man no longer applied, she was considered a Crone. If she spent a lifetime learning healing arts, herbalism and midwifery she was considered an Esteemed Crone. Many Native American tribes also recognized that she gained wisdom denied men by virtue of thinking differently and having a high regard for the welfare of future generations by virtue of raising them. With the advent of the Abrahamic religions and a shift from matrilinear to patrilinear descent these principles were ignored. Hey, if the world is gonna end any day now, who gives a crap about future generations, preserving the environment or women as anything other than property?

This sexism still runs rampant, yes, especially in Paganism. Let some male “elder” get caught with computers full of child porn or pushing sex with children as legitimate forms of education and scores of Pagans rise up to debate it and agonize over the “good” they did being thrown out with the bathwater but let a elder woman take a position regarding the tradition she founded that empowered thousands of women, say a Z. Budapest, that runs counter to some neo-egalitarian idea that you can be whatever you declare yourself to be, physical realities be damned, rights of physical female women to restrict their religious practices to with other physically female women, is oppression, and she is EVIL, everything she touches is EVIL. Honey if that isn't a prime example of sexism, I have no idea what would be. Yeah, profess belief in the Goddess and pull this shit, did you just realize the Goddess isn't grandma with cookies? That maybe this isn't the greatest position regarding the Goddess to put yourself in?

And this all goes hand in glove with ageism usually expressed with sexism. Say you have a choice, having broken your leg for example, between having a medical doctor set the bone or a kid from Burger King. Hard choice? The medical doctor learned how to set the bone and is credentialed as someone who has that knowledge. When someone who tells you their credentials in the form of years of experience and battles fought and won do you dismiss that out of hand because the kid from Burger King may have new ideas on setting bones? Only if you are an idiot. And this, my darlings, is why you might disagree with a learned elder but you do not disrespect them.. at least if you are any kind of decent human being.

Thus endeth the lesson......