Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.
Four be the things I'd been better without:
Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.
Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.
Three be the things I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.
— Dorothy Parker
Like the divine Dorothy, I suspect that I shall never attain sufficient champagne, but tonight I'd like to discuss two things that I believe the Pagan community would be better without: Witch wars and pointless discussions about which subgroup has been "the most" oppressed. Minority (and especially disfavored) groups often become enmeshed in Witch war-type battles. We fight with each other instead of standing together and establishing our place and/or bringing about the changes that we hope for in the dominant culture. Those of us old enough to remember the counterculture struggles of the 1960s still have sad memories of energy and time spent on battles over philosophical purity while war raged on and the planet was poisoned. And you'd think that we'd have learned from the French Revolution.
As magic workers and people who understand that everything is connected, we Pagans have a really good basis for breaking out of the cycle of attacking each other. I'd like to see that happen and I'm encouraged to see some community leaders stepping back, taking time to listen and think rather than reacting immediately, and modeling more Pagan, productive ways to deal with conflict when it does arise.
And, I keep hoping that we've gotten past the completely unproductive game of arguing over which subgroup of us has been "more" oppressed than the others. That's a practice tied to a belief in a zero-sum Universe.
Again, as Pagans and magic workers, as people who understand that everything is connected, we, of all people, should know better. Patriarchy has wounded many, if not all, of us. Why should we compare and try to rank similar-but-unique experiences of oppression, in the mistaken belief that it's possible to determine who has been "most" wounded? That exercise has as its only goal the determination of who "wins" the oppression wars (and is, thus, the most deserving, virtuous, able to make demands, etc.) I will never know your unique wounding, but I can use my own experience of oppression and colonization to give me a basis for listening to you and trying to understand. I can use my experience as the landbase from which my empathy can begin take root and grow. And you can do the same for me. And then we can acknowledge that when you are oppressed, so am I and when I am oppressed, so are you. And then we can work together, respectfully. Or separately, respectfully. There's no need for us to discount each others' experience, which is what we do when we start declaiming which oppressed group had it "worst." Nor is there any need for us to listen to those who would ensorcel us into believing that we inhabit the limited, disconnected Universe that would respond to such nonsense.
And, in the end, we can stop. We can breathe. We can examine our own role in perpetuating the dominant culture, Witch wars, and arguing about who has been most grievously oppressed. We can return to our altars, or walk in our woods, or work in our gardens and open our hearts and our minds to the divine while we hold our community within the crucible of our best intentions.