I sat there for a moment, completely stunned at the comment. I had never really noticed before it was mentioned. And I had never thought about any of the ramifications concerning it. And yet, here I was…wondering how much of a difference that particular ripple had made in my life. After all, I’m always exploring the points of patterns and relationships.
The comment? One of my friends made the point that in the circle of friends we had, I was the only Pagan. I honestly had never noticed before – I always viewed people as people, not the little labels that get tied on to them by others. My friends, to me, are simply who they are: Eric, Donna, Stefanie, Terrance, (the other) Thomas, and a few others. I never considered classifying them by what belief system they held to, or by their skin color – they just are. Certainly, I have Pagan friends, but they either run in other social circles from myself, or are too far away for me to socialize with – other than via the Internet.
Among all of us, we rarely talk politics or world issues. Those topics come up every now and then, but all of us have grown bored discussing what would or should happen in the Ukraine or on the Gaza Strip in the Middle East. Instead, we discuss other “fun” topics, such as how to handle statistical anomalies within bell curve notation for grading metrics of students, or our favorite topic – exploring the intricacies related to our own distinct beliefs. We have sat and had prolonged discussions on such things as reincarnation, what constitutes God/Gods, how our beliefs help shape our moral compasses in life. We all have different perspectives, and its always nice to hear the similarities along with the differences. Very rarely does anything dip into the realm of debate, where one person is trying to “win points” or “prove their superiority” in the conversation.
We all came from different religious backgrounds, but for the large majority – we are all college professors of one stripe or another. Perhaps its the fact that we have that particular shared stake in our background that keeps us from devolving into shouting matches and contested battles of words and statements. Whatever it is – its a refreshing part of conversation for us.
But it begs the point, as the only Pagan, should I be looking for another social circle to be in? Should I be trying to “mix with my own kind”? Does my lack of socialization with other Pagans place my own beliefs of Paganism in some form of jeopardy? I am less Pagan for not socializing with other Pagans more often??
I already know my answers to this…and anyone who has ever spent time with me should likewise know the answer as well. However, I thought that this might be a good point to turn those questions on you. Perhaps, your answers may come easily…perhaps those answers don’t. But as I tell my students, anyone can make a statement – its the manner in which you back up your points that makes the difference.