Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beware the Wary...

I've noticed a trend lately that isn't new at all. It's the persecution complex. I noticed it first with my mother when she visited for a week. She's a fundy Christian, very Religious Right, very frightening to most right-thinking pagans. She's the rubber meeting the road in every "a fundy tried to cast out my demons at the mall because I was wearing a pentagram" horror story you've ever heard. She wears a T-shirt that says, "May I pray for you?" on the front and "Jesus is Lord" on the back when she goes out. And people come up to her and ask her for prayer. And she prays for them. Weird.

Can you imagine a Hermetic T-shirt like that? "Can I conjure your Genius for you?" on the front, and just "LOGOS" on the back...

Anyway, she went on and on a couple nights about the persecution against her church. A biker stopped at the church and told her pastor he wanted to buy their building for his biker friends' club. When they said it wasn't for sale, the biker got pissed and made an ominous statement about coming back, and that they would sell it to the bikers. She told me about the witches up in the mountains (of Colorado) that are casting spells against Christianity. She told me about how Obama's health care robs her of her coverage. (She also believes that private healthcare is screwing her too; she just worked for the government for twenty years, and knows how badly they can fuck shit up.)

I grew up with that. My parents didn't save up any college funds because they were sure Jesus would be back by then. They read Mother Earth News to find survival tips, and had a huge garden in their back yard to provide food in case of the Tribulation.

So, I'm used to the whole persecution complex coming from the Christian Church. They never got over the whole feeding them to lions and crucifying them thing.

It's all over the pagan community too. Burning times much? Granted, pagans do get discriminated against (ostracized and killed in some places) by most communities, especially anyone accused of witchcraft that's blighting the crops, cattle, or kids. Here in the States, Pagans lose their jobs when zealous Christians find reasons to fire them after they wear their pentagrams to work.

Jews have earned a right their paranoia. 'Nuff said. My immigrant friends suffer persecution at the hands of whites, blacks, and even people from their own countries who are already US Citizens. They've also earned a right to their paranoia. So I'm not saying all instances of fear of persecution are wrong.

But it's way too prevalent. Democrats are afraid of and angry at the persecution they receive from Republicans, real or imagined, and the same is true of the Republicans. Both parties use hyperbole and pathos to frighten their constituents, to get them all wound up in a frenzy of illogical emotion. Both sides are blind to their illogic, blinded by ideological programming that they are constantly at risk, constantly under attack.

The truth is, we aren't under attack nearly as much as people like to believe. Fear of the "others" is a tool used to keep groups separated from one another. It's almost like there's this genetic need to feel lie the rest of the world is out to get us.

But are you out to get any particular group of people? Are you actively or passively executing a plan to destroy everything your opposing political rivals stand for? Guess what... Most of the other people in the world aren't that interested in destroying you personally either. Some are, sure, but find out the facts. Keep your fear levels at the right levels, based on the truth.

Tonight I watched a special on the end of the world on the Science channel. It showed the top ten ways the Earth could be destroyed at any given time. "Yellow Stone Park is a CALDERA!!! Asteroids!!! Nukes, everywhere, NUKES!!!" Bullshit.

You know what they had in common, whether they were theologians or scientists? They all seemed like just under the surface they were totally pissed that the Earth hadn't ended yet. I recognized it from the pastors that taught Revelations with zeal when I was a kid. They get this passion in their voices when they talk about the extremes we'll face if this blows up or that hits us, or if "they" launch a nuclear weapon at us.  It looks like concern, or fear at first, but then you hear them describing these horrific scenarios with this glazed look on their face, and you notice the drool, and you realize hey, they really want to see this shit, and yeah, they're pissed that it hasn't happened yet! They've been predicting the end of the world for years, and it still hasn't come.

Anyway, it would be stupid to say that there's nothing dangerous on earth or that no one is ever out to get us. There's nasty shit in the world, and crazy people. But as magicians, we've got to remember that the forces of creation itself are on our side. They protect, empower, and provide for us. We converse with the spirits of all that manifests, we commune with Nature in ways that would make Darwin weep. We know where we stand in the cosmos, and there is nothing to fear. Know the dangers, but fear them not.

I've been working on my own sphere in this regard. I've noticed the persecution complex pops up when ever I jump to conclusions without having all the facts. I'm not that political, and there isn't really any organized religious group that I can call my own, so it usually manifests in my relationships and finances. The trick to getting out of the fear loop seems to be asking simple questions.
  • What am I afraid of?
  • Is the source of the fear a fact?
  • If so, what is the actual fact, not the hyperbolic spin on the fact that is affecting my emotions?
  • If it happens, what would I do?
Applying these questions to my fears has helped me to understand a great deal about myself and the things that trigger my own persecution complex. The two biggest things that cause me fear are my family and my freedom. If something appears to threaten either, in any way, I get emotional fast. The adrenaline helps my muscles and reflexes, it prepares me to defend against anything physically attacking what I hold dear. It also shuts down my rational mind and leaves me acting on genetically programmed instinct that doesn't necessarily apply to the situation at hand.

It's important to point out that I'm not overcoming my fear, or rising above my emotions. I'm not turning off anything, I'm simply putting it into its proper place. Emotions and fear are important aspects of our existence, and the goal is to bring them into harmony. They should fuel the rational mind, not consume it.