One of the things I love doing as a Druid is having conversations with people of other faiths. On an average day, I get about twenty-five to thirty questions via Email. The folks that I get the questions from are my friends, mostly those that I recently friended on Facebook. All of them are trying to get to know me better, since we don’t have a way of meeting face-to-face. Sometimes, people get a bit contentious and obnoxious – typically over politics. But that’s more rare then it is common. I also don’t answer every question that gets put to me – usually because its overly personal or is a thinly veiled insult of some sort, which is a bit more common than I really wish it was. Regardless of all that, it’s a chance to learn something through thinking and answering a question. Sometimes, I edit questions to make it more readable, particularly when someone is using internet short-hand, but for the most part – when I post these questions on Facebook – I leave things spelled just the way they did.
I catch a ton of flak from my Pagan and more liberal friends for answering the questions at all. Others will claim the questions are just plain stupid and point out that they would have lost patience with the questions in a fairly short period of time. I get told that I am much more patient than they are. Well, that’s not really true. I have a fairly quick temper. However, because the communication style is analogous in mode, I have plenty of time to pull back and think through my answers. If only the test of Life provided me that time frame to pull myself back the ledge emotionally before responding. 😊
One of the most important things that these conversations impart to me is the need to be patient and understanding. To try and see the conversation from their point of view. To temper the way I approach my responses. Because I never know if I am talking directly to a new Pagan who is just feeling their way through things. The worst thing I can do for them is to snap back in a manner that makes them feel unwelcomed. And for those non-Pagans that are asking questions, I can show that Pagans are not acerbic smart-asses that are capable of nothing else but being on the defensive with every conversation. Now, if you look throughout history, you will find a lot of reasons for Pagans to be defensive and even downright combative with inquisitive non-Pagans, so response in this vein are easily understood. But those can also be off-putting to a potential non-Pagan ally. Plus, I try to live my everyday life by the single mantra: in all that you do, please be kind.
In my professional life, I’ve found that everything gets communicated far easier with a kind, gentle tone than it does with insulting put-downs and off-handed, detrimental commentary. Or as the saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey….well, that and a big stick. 😉
I’m also reminded that in some instances – whether I like the concept or not – I may be the only Pagan and/or Druid that some people may encounter. In a way of thinking, that would make me the example of Druidry and Paganism. I just became the proto-type Druid and/or Pagan. Its not because I’m important (I’m not). It’s a numbers thing…I might be the only one that someone may encounter. And I would seriously have issues with myself if I were a bad example because I wasn’t trying to be kind.
Honestly, that’s a lot of pressure to put on myself. Being kind with everyone. And as I stated before, I do have a serious temper. So I know that I can slip up in this quest from time to time. I’m human, after all. I have bad days, terrible moments…the only relief I get in all of that is that I always get the opportunity to take a moment, re-gather who I am, and apologize. I may not get the acceptance for that apology, but the least I can do is offer it in a serious spirit.
So, I answer questions to the folks who ask them. Sometimes, I don’t have the answers. But in this analog world, I have the chance to find an answer or find someone who can provide a more lucid answer. I answer for a lot of reasons – to be helpful, to offer up assistance in a spirit of good will, and to answer what questions a new Pagan or a individual seeker might wish to know. I’m not important. Far from it. I just happen to be the Druid or Pagan who is there at that moment.