Monthly Archives: May 2006

Perspectives, Flame Wars, and Divinity

There was an amazing exhibit at the US Botanic Garden, titled sLow Life, that featured time-lapse photos and videos showing how plants move and respond to their environment, when from our human perspective plants are relatively static. This got me thinking about how our perspective really determines our experience of the world.

So much of what we “know” depends upon our perspective. How we sense the world, our position in space, time, and the social structure, our beliefs, our past experiences – all contribute to our unique perspective. It is amazing that two people can even communicate at all. Often we can’t. Even in mundane, trivial discussions we use language in idiosyncratic ways. These differences in definition and connotation are unspoken, and we think that we understand each other, but we don’t. Or we may think we disagree, but find upon further examination of our assumptions and definitions that we actually agree.

At the risk of going political, Pagans see Jews, Christians, and Muslims as more alike than not – all followers of the Abrahamic god. But from their perspectives, they are completely different. Just as they see Pagans as essentially the same, but we see the differences within our community between traditions and paths.

So, I have to ask: Is the War of Terror just one big Witch War writ large on the global theater instead of in an Internet list serve? You know, we’ve all seen it – two people (or more) just go out of control and flame each other, draw more people into the fight, and thereby destroy the very community they claim to want to save.

So, let’s ask ourselves “Who is the troll?” Or more correctly “Who are the trolls?” I see people on both sides doing and saying things to enflame other folks who could work together if they were encouraged and guided to do so. No, these trolls only look for ways to divide and sow mistrust and anger. Just your classic flame war.

I also believe there are people on both sides who truly want to find solutions. Their voices are quieter, drowned out by trolls and the angry mob. Maybe they don’t know how to work together, but they are struggling in the quagmire caused by the trolls.

Then there are those who don’t care and finally just get so frustrated at the media circus of sound bites and shield beating that they withdraw. They leave the community to live out their lives without reading the news or participating in the attempts to change. They are the silent and they are the majority. But their silence does them no good. For they live in the same world we all do. There is no escape.

Why are the trolls so damn loud?

Why do we listen to them?

Is there something in the nature of our species that finds it so easy to dehumanize and demonize another if someone tells us to do so long enough and loud enough?

It is one of my hopes with Becoming that we not only learn and say that the divine abounds everywhere, but that we live that truth and begin to actively and consciously look for the divine spark in all people. That we take that perspective into our daily lives and dealings with others. We may not like how others act or react. We may not agree with them. We may have to “draw the line” to protect ourselves and others. But keeping in mind that they are just as divine as we are helps us to not dismiss them as “just assholes” or demonize them, but to deal with them consciously, to try to understand what their perspective is, and to act from a place of understanding rather than anger and fear.

Because when I consciously look for the divine spark in others, I find it in myself. And when I demonize or dehumanize others and deny that they also have the divine within them, I lose connection with the divine within me.

We are all of us human and we are all of us divine.