This week is Interfaith week here in the UK and today, as President of the Pagan Federation, I made a statement reaffirming our commitment to Interfaith work. Why did I do that? Because it’s important and valuable work that we should all be able to get behind – even those people with no faith. Across the range of different faiths in this world there are many differences to be found within our practices and traditions but as human beings, there is far more than unites us than divides us.
The same goes for the many different paths that are to be found underneath the umbrella term of Pagan. It is very true that there are many differences to be found such as differing deity, practices, teachings and beliefs. It is also true though that there are similarities and not least because we are all human and have the same basic needs of nourishment, safety, clean air and people who understand and accept us for who we are.
The last year has been a tough one as we’ve all lived through a time that none of us have ever lived through before. A global pandemic shows the true colours of many things in our society from the thoughts and feelings of its members to just how necessary certain aspects of it are and faith communities have proved themselves essential for several reasons. Indeed, in some cases the provision found from within someone’s faith community has literally meant the difference between life and death.
It is therefore just as important that we practice Intrafaith as much as Interfaith but what does that mean in practice? It means being open to learning about other paths in Paganism other than our own. It means being willing to listen to Heathens even though we’re Wiccan or Hellanistic in our own path or vice versa. It means understanding that our path is not the only one and that they’re all just as valid as each other.
It’s important work too. If we can learn to listen to each other and create some empathy, whether between different Pagan paths or between different faith paths altogether, we can make a start on tackling the real challenges in this world. Those things that see huge numbers of people living in poverty or as victims of discrimination, crime and violence are a result of many years spent not listening or understanding the paths walked by our neighbours. If we’re going to tackle the social fragmentation that is more pandemic than Covid-19 is right now we have to play our part.
I for one commit to that work. I might not see it in my lifetime, but it’s a long play game that I devote myself to for my children and my children’s children so that they have a better chance of living a life where everyone is welcome, everyone is safe and everyone is accepted for who they are and what they believe. A world where everyone thrives.
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