I’ve spent the past few days feeling despair, sickness, anger and stomach-clenching, tear-streaming ragefear. America, a country that is not my own but one with which I have close links, having friends there and having lived there for a year, has elected a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, climate-change-denying, sex-offending, KKK-endorsed, capriciously malevolent bully to its highest office.
This is a man who mocks disabled people, hates women, and uses racist invective to stir up angry crowds against convenient minority scapegoats. A man who has called climate change a hoax and vows to destroy all environmental protections.
How can I respond to this?
As a Pagan, as a Druid-in-training, I believe that there is a sacred duty to protect and defend the earth, our home and mother. Yet right now, it seems like a losing battle and the future looks bleaker than ever. In the depths of despondency, I wondered what was the point, should I abandon my beliefs and my Druidry, and simply “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”?
No. Of course not. This world needs Druids, Pagans, earth-centred thinkers, more than ever before.
I’ve always tried to stay out of politics. But now politics threatens us all, and there is no such thing as neutrality.
Philip Carr-Gomm reminds us that Druidry has always had a political dimension. That socialist, liberal, ecological values have been woven into modern Druidry since its 17th century revival:
At this critical time in world history I believe it is important to examine how we relate to the world of politics. It is easy to say that it has nothing to do with spirituality. But is this really so?…Behind politics, lie beliefs, behind beliefs lie core values. As a first step in engaging these issues I think it would be helpful for us as Druids – with all the diversity that we represent – to define our core values.
The Druid’s prayer, that I shared on this blog a while ago, talks about “the knowledge of Justice…and the love of it”. To be Druid is to stand for justice, both social and environmental.
It is to stand against racism, against sexism, against ecocide, against the forces of hate.
But I am small, one person with no power. How do I fight something so vast?
JRR Tolkien once said:
Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.
If we work together, however small we are, we can be part of something greater. So I’ve joined Greenpeace, and the World Wide Fund for Nature, and the Green Party. I’m going to reach out to The Warriors’ Call and go on protest marches and demos which I previously avoided out of fear. I will lobby MPs and sign petitions. I will speak out.
And in my daily ordinary life, I will sing, and dance, and read fiction and watch movies and go out with friends, and spend time in nature and enjoy life, not to distract myself from the fight, but to remind myself what it is we’re fighting for.
And I will try, however I can, to be loving and kind and helpful, to counteract the hate and division out there.
It may not be enough, but right now, it is all I can give. And if I fail, then at least I will know I tried.
Eric Holthaus, writing in Slate, said:
But it’s a fight worth continuing. The momentum on climate is depressingly slow, but it’s in the right direction. Trump is a big setback, but it’s not game over…Don’t be tricked into thinking your actions to protect the climate we all share are meaningless under Trump. You are more important than ever.
I lived in North Dakota for a year, on a Native Reservation, and I am both saddened and heartened by what’s going on right now at Standing Rock. Saddened that it’s happening, but heartened by the courage of the Water Protectors, of indigenous people and their allies standing in the way of world-killing greed and saying no. Not here. Not today.
My small flame of hope is that there are enough good people around the world to do the same. May Awen flow and inspire us with love for each other, and love for the earth. In a time of great hate, to love is a revolutionary act.