This goes along with Etiquette

Right about this point, someone is going to jump up and yell, "You're being judgmental!" so let's address that issue here and now. Tell me, please, when did becoming Pagan mean we gave up our right to be treated with respect? I didn't give up that right, did you?

Practicing tolerance and being accepting of someone else's culture, lifestyle or belief system does not mean that we have to put up with things like lying, sexual predation, acting out, bigotry, hypocrisy, carelessness, cruelty, selfishness, rudeness, poor planning, self righteousness, lame excuses, neglect, addictive/destructive behavior, nasty gossip, stealing, or temper tantrums. This is nothing more than bad behavior masquerading as magick. Is this the sort of community we want to create?

Ah... but are we a community in the real sense of that word? The definition of a community is a group that involves "friendly association, mutual support, commitment, and dedication to a cause, ideal, or effort." It is not something we "do" just at full moons or at festivals, it is something we live within and support. It is equitable, ongoing, reciprocal, and organic. A functional community is also well mannered. Why? Well, as my colleague Thalassa points out, standards of courtesy and etiquette were originally invented so that we could stand living with other people in close proximity (i.e. in tribes, cities and communities) and thus prevent us from killing one other out of sheer annoyance. Unfortunately, we don't have a Pagan community, let alone a healthy one, and our manners are often deplorable. With the exception of some small neighborhood circles, where love and dedication create a vital group, what we Pagans actually engage in is a "Pagan scene".

A scene is merely a place or event where people come to play for a short time, much like a rave party or a rock concert. Little that is made or done at a scene endures; the experience is all-important. The people who frequent a scene do not support each other as a community does. They do not care for one another in hard times, and they do not build a lasting culture. When they get bored, they leave, and go on to find another scene. (7)

Depending on the emotional health of those involved, a Pagan scene can be the perfect breeding ground for sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. Furthermore, many Pagans enter into a very bad bargain when they attend a Pagan scene. If the group they encounter lacks 1) commitment to and between it's members, 2) healthy social standards, and 3) the ability to deal with conflict productively (three things necessary in any functional system), they must resort to dysfunctional bargains in order to gather at all. These unspoken agreements come in the form of a meta message. A meta message is nonverbal information conveyed by the group's behavior. This one is common:

"I want to belong in this group, no matter what; therefore, I will put up with any sort of bad behavior from you and the others here. If I do that, you must put up with bad behavior from me. Do this and you will be accepted by me, and vice versa. If anyone points out that we lack either manners or honor, we will band together and call them "judgmental".

Any sane person knows the difference between being judgmental and exercising good judgment. A wise Priest or Priestess is, above all, a person of discernment. Such people will not allow mean spirited, discourteous, arrogant, thoughtless, silly, or neurotic behavior to ruin their circles and events. If they do, they need to turn in their wands. Honestly, folks, it is possible to be so open-minded that your brains leak out, and if our ancestors had been this dim witted, we wouldn't be here today. So, here's to common sense and simple courtesy. May they hold an honored place among us. If not, I, for one, will want to know why.

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