For the Love of Justice, Truth, and a Good Night’s Sleep

Every so often, I get asked about why I don’t post more about American politics or even World politics for that matter. “You’re a Druid,” is a response I hear often to my quiet shrug. “Don’t you have a mantra that suggests a love for Justice? Don’t you want to see ‘Justice’ done against Trump and his followers?” Or there’s an opposite aspect to that as well: “Don’t you believe in Justice? Don’t you want to see the witch-hunt against President Trump come to an end?” See, I have friends from both ends of the political spectrum, so I generally hear both sides of that point. My own perspective is far removed from both sides.

Most people don’t really grok where I come from with politics. I’m an unaffiliated voter in the state of Texas. This doesn’t really mean much here in Texas. Primaries are open in the state of Texas, meaning anyone can vote in any primary. Kind of dumb, huh? But even if the primaries were closed – in other words, Democrats voted only in Democratic primaries, etc. etc. – I would remain an unaffiliated voter. Its my quiet way of flying the finger at the stranglehold that the two-party system has here in America. Not that anyone was ever really looking for my middle-finger throughout all of it. 😉 Not much of a protest, but it is what I do. I was never about screaming my perspective from the ramparts in the first place.

So, when folks start flying the point about Druids being for “justice” – I’m always reminded that terminology can be equated to a double-edged sword. What some refer to something as “justice” does not always mean that someone else will see it the same way. When we start flinging the word “justice” around, we’re seeking restitution for action – trying to balance out an inequality (so Libra of me…LOL). When I get a call for justice bandied about or at me, the first thing I start looking for is an inequality that needs to be balanced. Well, here’s the hard part – trying to see both sides of the equation. Sometimes, its easy. Stuff can be two-toned in that respect. Other times, well…sometimes its hard to even comprehend the other side of an argument. Honestly, I can’t and don’t’ see or understand a lot of what the Trump supporters bandy about. For instance, all this kerfuffle about the election being “rigged.” I can’t really see things from their respective. I believe the election was fair, honest, and accurate. I also believe the same thing about the election when President Trump was elected. There was a lot of outrage over supposed Russian interference in the election. See, you can go back and back and back in history and find the losers of the various elections claiming widespread voter fraud. For me, “justice” demands that the alleged inequities be thoroughly investigated and reported. Every single time, voter fraud and irregularities were discovered but at such low levels that it would not sway the election in any significant manner. And in the name of love for “justice” – we, here in the United States, investigate the shit out of that stuff. So, when I get slammed with the point of the Druidic phrasing of the “love of justice” over the election…I point out instances such as this. Not that any of that sways the minds of those slapping me in the face with these charges like they are swinging a sea trout in a fish market.

Then there are those that slam me for not leading the charge to “get Trump”. Here, I point to the ongoing investigations, and note that these processes take time. “Too much time,” is the crackback. Agreed. It always feels like its too much time, particularly when you are already at some conclusion. Guilty, not guilty…everyone’s ready to free someone they believe in or jail the one they would prefer to vigilante justice upon for whatever wrongs have painted on those folks. Part of my “love for justice” is my larger “love of the truth.” That means letting investigations proceed at its own speed. The people appointed to the investigation are charged with seeking the truth, and I hold them to that charge. I would hope much of the citizenry does too. Even if that truth is opposed to their own perceived perspective of guilt or innocence. After all, that’s why we are holding an investigation – to make sure that the truth is known, and to make sure that the guilty are truly guilty. “Slam Trump in a jail cell, and then drop the prison on top of him!” Sure. I agree. If he’s guilty of whatever is being charged against him. I’d rather the investigation ran its course, the evidence be found and corroborated then to rush everything through and push the punishment onto him without the process being fulfilled to its end. Why? Well, its simple. I would want the same due process applied to me, were I to be charged with a crime. I would want the investigation to be thorough and complete, in the name of Justice and the Truth. If I, a simple citizen desire this for myself, in the name of equality – I want it for everyone else too.

I’m a Libra. I want the scales of Justice to be balanced. Honestly, I am a Libra. October 1st. Somewhere near the middle of the entire sign’s calendar dates. Balance, equality, justice, and truth are important to me. I’m as typical a Libra as you will find. Is it any wonder that I am an unaffiliated voter/ Or that I prefer to see both sides of an issue before I decide which one I would favor in my own opinion? Trust me, I’ve heard it all in association with myself. Waffler, incapable of making up my mind, fence-rider, middle-of-the-road, indecisive, non-confrontational… And all are true. Except when I do finally make up my mind. When I choose my side. I’m a warrior for that point. Because I know where things fall within my own perspective on the points of Truth, and Justice. And I know what’s “right” in that issue.

Grant, O Gods, Thy protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences, the love of the Gods.

I hate to say that my political perspective is derived from my understanding of the above prayer – what is referred to as the Druid’s Prayer. But it does. I choose to avoid affiliation from Democrats, Republicans, or any other political party – because I don’t completely believe what these parties quietly convey: party above all else. Their politics is not about doing what is best for the citizenry, but rather what is best for the party’s continued control of the three branches of government here in the United States. Others will argue that I’m wrong. That this party or that party have the best interests of the citizenry at the heart of their desire for control and power. That’s about the point where I do what now I am doing in this blog post: I shut my mouth and move on. Because my life is taken up with many more positive things than stuff like politics. And I really need to focus on those things to have another happy day ahead. And I do so like having happy days. Politics has its place and time…but right now, its time to get the house ready for another night of rest and sleep…politics has no place there. I have a love for justice and truth, but I have an even greater love for a good night’s sleep.

–Tommy /|\

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

Who I Am Versus What I Am – Perceptions Versus Honesty

Over the course of the last day and a half, I have had a single statement rolling around in my mind. “I define who I am. Despite my best efforts, others will define what I am.” Its a really difficult statement for me to spend time looking over. I have fought very hard to learn the roles that I currently occupy in my life. Even when I want to shake that role off completely – such as my difficulty dealing with the conceptual aspects of being a Priest. I have spent an awful lot of intellectual – and spiritual – capital in accepting and (eventually) embracing who I am now, and who I am to become in my future.

I fought for the understanding of those roles, and damnit, that’s where I am going! I am not going to let a minor bump in the road dislodge me from who I am and who I will be. And that works for me. I understand all of that/ I even understand when things get a little overwhelming, and I need to take a break for a short while. Every bit of that has been difficult, including the parts where I have had to learn to adult when I didn’t want to. I have argued with myself, disagreed with others, and even had my moments of crisis, where I doubt everything I have done that has provided me with the steps on this Path in Life. But nothing prepared me for the shock of realizing that much of who I am to the outside world comes not from me, but from the perception of others. The outward depiction of me comes from how other perceive me. They get to define me in that manner.

Much like when anything comes about that is a major shock, even if just momentarily, I had my doubts. Uh-uh. No way. I manage the who of me. Those roles are handled by me. But the outward perception is not controlled by me – though I can provide some indirect effect. But let’s not head that far just yet. People get a perception of who I am by the way I interact with them, by the way I appear to them, by the manner in which we communicate with one another. And a large part of this comes down to the manner in which I dress.

See, I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of person. This is the most comfortable attire for me, and it places me in some sense of being “casual”. But that is not the most professional way to look; hence, the reason that I cannot dress like this at work. And when it comes to ritual, it is not the most credible way to dress. Yeah, whether I like it or not, wearing a cloak with a Ren-faire style shirt with black jeans tends to be a more appropriate manner to dress for public ritual than my “happier” attire of a “Dancing Terrapins” t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. that is not my expectation, but one that seems to be more appropriate in the eyes of others at public gatherings.

People are going to define what I am, by my outward appearance, and by the way I comport myself at public gatherings (and some private ones). There is a certain air of seriousness that one approaches ritual, as well as serious discussion. Even when you have two Trickster Gods around you, as well as one of the flirtiest Goddesses waving at you from the edge of the tree-line. Coyote, Crow, and even Fliodhas can make ordinary moments….well, “interesting” and difficult for keeping a straight face. And that can be rather testy when you are wanting others to take you seriously as a Priest, a Polytheist, and a Pagan.

But that’s what I mean – others will get the opportunity to define what I am by how they perceive me. And I can agonize over this as much as I want to – and I would like to think that I don’t – but the matter isn’t how I perceive myself. Its how they perceive me. Like I said…I would like to think that it does not matter that much to me. But it does, just not as much as I thought it might.

Which is why its a moment that really brought a touch of shock to me. I have always steeled myself against the opinions of others, by noting that what I define myself as was all that really mattered. The perspective of others didn’t matter. But when this thought popped into my mind, and I started to turn it over and over – I realized that I was shielding myself from an aspect of the truth. It may not be a big factor in how I perceive myself, but it is there. And honestly, its far better to be truthful with myself over something like this, than it would be to continue with my self-narrative.

 

Living Your Truth Out Loud

In a recent post, Nimue asked: “What’s your truth, and what do you need to do to speak it into everything you say, and carry it into everything you do, and what happens if we do that?” Before I continue on, let me encourage you to go read Nimue’s very thought-provoking post. I’ll wait patiently here at the keyboard.

What Nimue is discussing in her post is a very powerful process. It requires a lot of inward soul-searching, in my opinion, as well as looking to see where your flashlight (or torchlight, if you prefer) is pointed. Which reminds me of a quote from Babylon 5 that I believe helps showcase a part of my own truth.

If I take a lamp and shine toward the wall, a bright spot will appear on the wall. The lamp is our search for truth, for understanding. Too often we assume the light on the wall is God, but the light is not the goal of the search, it is the result of the search. The more intense the search, the brighter the light on the wall. The brighter the light on the wall, the greater the revelation upon seeing it. Similarly, someone who does not search, who does not bring a lantern with him, sees nothing. What we perceive as God is the by-product of our search for God. It may simply be an appreciation of the light, pure and unblemished, not understanding that it comes from us. Sometimes, we stand in front of the light and assume we are the center of the universe — God looks astonishingly like we do! — or we turn to look at our shadow and assume all is darkness. If we allow ourselves to get in the way, we defeat the purpose — which is to use the light of our search to illuminate the wall in all its beauty and all it flaws, and in so doing, better understand the world around us. –G’kar

For me, in trying to speak my own personal truth, its the very end of this moment that expresses what my own truth is all about. See, I’m a polytheist. I believe all the Gods and Goddesses are real. I believe the Spirits of Place and Ancestor are also real. I believe that all of Them are individual entities, which we can work with, in our own individual manners. I believe that each of our relationships with these entities is individual and unique. And those unique relationships are the walls where I shine my flashlight, so that I can examine, inspect, and marvel at the uniqueness of what I am experiencing. But that’s not all.

My Truth

A large part of who I am is about experiencing things. Walks in the woods. Long drives through the vast countryside of the United States. Working with my programming and databases. Sitting in the backyard next to my pool. Standing out by stone circle, in another part of the backyard, to watch the sun rise. Watching the growth of the cattle that I pass every day on my way to work. Standing on the back porch to feel the warm Summer rain, while listening to the mighty boom of nearby lightning. Conversations with friends and strangers on a wide variety of subjects. The warm, enveloping hug of friends that I saw yesterday, and the strong, enthusiastic hugs of friends and distant relatives I haven’t seen in quite some time. I tend to refer to all of that, as “my Druidry” – but that is the same thing as saying that it is a large part of “my Truth.”

Not All Personal Truths Are Equal

Perhaps, a few of you are reading the above statement and shaking your head. “That’s definitely not my truth,” you might be saying to yourself. And that is definitely all right. Much like the relationship between one individual and the Gods is one thing, another individual’s relationship to the Gods may be something completely different – even to the same Gods. Your own Truth may not be about experiencing things. Your own Truth might be about something way different. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you are proclaiming that your Truth is the Truth that everyone else must have as well. Then, we start down the road to the unbending rod of dogma. And while that may be your Truth, for me, a rigid dogma is a definite “no” for me.

Speaking Truth

For me, this is a very simple thing. Speaking Truth everyday is adding my experiences to my daily Path. This means taking time away from my keyboard at work, so I can step down to the gazebo at the duck pond, and just watch everything happening around me. The students coming and going, the sounds of their many discussions. Watching the clouds rolling in from the west, as the jet stream pushes them forward. When I do encounter students in my daily work, I try to be encouraging. I listen to them as they talk, ask leading questions to get them to puzzle out their problems for themselves. I step into their experiences. And every once in a while, they will ask how I manage to understand all of that, and I get the chance to discuss my own concept of dealing with experiences. Whether they adapt some of that or not, that is for them to decide.

In my nightly devotions to my two Gods and single Goddess, I try to add small commentary about my experiences for the day. Just as a way of sharing my day with Them. Plus, it serves as a reminder to me that these experiences have helped me to grow, and understand the world around me, and all the connections that are a part of that and myself.

So, What Happens?

This is where your mileage will vary greatly from my own. Because what happens is nearly as unique as the connection between us and the Gods. Or the connections between us and other people. Or our experiences to various moments in time. But, one thing I have found – when we start speaking our Truth, when we start consciously understanding our own personal Truths…it bleeds out into everything we do. We begin to commit actions that mirror how we believe. For me, this was learning to live my life much slower, more deliberately. To not be rushing from one location or task to another – unless it was merited by a deadline or a specific individual requesting data. Slowing life down in a deliberate manner, allowed me to embrace the connections I could readily see, and discover newer ones that were not readily available.

Slowing life down has also allowed me to embrace a different mantra. For this one, I have to lean to Mickey Hart of Dead & Company. At the very end of the Grateful Dead 50th anniversary celebration, he made the following statement:

The feeling we have here — remember it, take it home and do some good with it. I’ll leave you with this: Please, be kind. –Mickey Hart

…and for me, that encompasses an even greater Truth. If we live our own Truth, we will find that it all leads to one simple mantra (at least I hope it will): be kind to others. I cannot say for certain what your Truth is or is not, but I certainly hope that in the end, when speaking it to others, when living it in yourself, that it all boils down to one thing: being kind to others.

If you have found anything I have written here intriguing, or you are intrigued with what Nimue has posted….please, take the time to explore your own Truth. Write it down. Examine it. Write about that examination. Put your Truth in motion. Don’t let it be a hidden part of you. Live it out loud.