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Free Has A Price

“Did you hear about Charlottesville?” my brother asked from the backseat as we hauled our beach gear out of the car. My middle brother, best friend, and I had decided to take a weekend-trip to a beach house to North Carolina and admittedly I was more focused on making sure that I had everything accounted for. “Sure, there’s some sort of counter protest taking place today,” I said, beating my sand filled shoes against the car, “I know a few people going. I think that there’s a confederate rally going on that their uniting against.”

“Yeah,” he said, “but some white supremacist dude just plowed his car through the crowd there. One person dead and 15 injured,” he replied to me, still reading information from his phone. He was looking down at his screen but I had stopped what I was doing. What the hell was going on? I continued to gather my things and trek into the house, but as I spread out our towels on the porch rail I couldn’t stop the fast track of thoughts. What is friggin’ happening to us as a country? I couldn’t help but wonder, have I allowed for incidents like this to occur, by standing silent? Have we unknowingly incubated groups like “Unite the Right” by allowing them to spew venom in the name of “free speech”? How far does this freedom extend?

Maybe that’s a large leap, but this is how my brain works. How many of us hear the voice of bigotry, fear, and hate but simply plug our ears in hopes that someone else will silence it? Perhaps we’ve given ourselves a little too much freedom in picking and choosing what we allow in the name of free speech. How else do I explain to my international colleagues who ask, “How could this happen?” We are supposed to the the leader when it comes to basic freedoms and human rights.

Honestly, I’m guilty of this picking and choosing, this passive stance on what I will allow to be said around me without consequence. This stems from a fear of putting my foot in my mouth. I hate being wrong more than most and usually don’t express ANY sort of opinion on ANYTHING unless I’m 100% sure that, if it came to debating some topic, I could win hands down. Yeah, I’m weird. Whatever. I don’t want to look like an idiot. I see and hear all kinds of things that can be described as being wrong, hateful, and just plain stupid, yet I let it all slide in the name of “freedom”; freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, freedom to act a fool in public because your momma didn’t discipline you. All the while I think, “well, someone else is bound to say something…”

How many more of us could have said something, or better yet, did something, so that the collective voices of reason, love, and respect were too loud for those  dumbfuck skinheads abrasive bigots to ignore? How many truly compassionate and good people could have lifted their voices? Would it have made a difference? I’m guessing the only way we can really know is if more people like myself take the chance of nibbling on their own toes and let their voice be heard.

To me, that means not only speaking up about divisions and hate, but also making sure the Pagan voice is heard. I know I can’t speak for the whole Pagan community around here, but if this is the label I wear, albeit reluctantly, then I should own it. We are affected by marginalization and hate as well. When it comes to ignorance in that respect I always felt at least a little bit confident in speaking up and saying things like, “No, witches don’t sacrifice babies,” or “No, not all pagans participate in moonlit orgies…” [eye roll]

I think it’s time for me to be a little louder, a little more assertive, in saying that I’m a Pagan and I’m not a bad person. I want to promote an open-minded and inclusive discussion around both religious and political beliefs. I don’t want my own freedoms limited by those who abuse it. We have to curb those who would turn the freedoms we have taken for granted into weapons.

I won’t claim that this is the most cohesive argument, much less statement, but these are my thoughts committed to type.

Categories: Current Events

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Writer, Wannabe Artist, Overthinker, List-Maker, Photographer, Chronic Under-Salter

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