This morning, I was distracting myself from a series of nasty dreams with a bit of browsing on my social networks, and a theme emerged very quickly. Multiple petty arguments over Pagan and Hoodoo praxis? Check. A supposedly respectable Haitian style Houngan taking the third opportunity in as many days to pettily and passive-aggressively snipe at a group of New Orleans style practitioners? Check. A thunderous argument over whether or not the Gardnerians and Alexandrians are the "only true Wiccans"? Check check check check check.
I am rolling my eyes so hard that they hurt. I understand that "recreational bickering" is a time honored tradition in both Pagan and African Traditional circles, but OH MY SPIRITS I am sick of it. One would think that spiritual people would be relatively enlightened. One would think that members of religious minorities would have learned a thing or two about the value of tolerance. And all of the people involved are at least nominal adults; where's their maturity? Do they leave these virtues behind when they post on the Net--or would the same people be fighting it out in person if they got the chance?
I'm not perfect myself, but DAMN. Why is picking and squabbling at each other so irresistible in religious and spiritual communities? Are these people so insecure that they have to exalt their beliefs by stamping on someone else's? Or (perhaps worse) have they reached a level of "security" in themselves that has overinflated their self-importance? Or is it that the field of human spirituality is landmined with argumentative assholes? Whatever the reason...ugh. No wonder there's little to no solidarity between traditions or even groups within a tradition. This is a big problem, and certainly it cripples us all severely when it comes to accomplishing any greater good that requires cooperation.
And so I am reminded again that 99.99% of every problem, failing and disappointment I have had with religion has come from humans. Certainly, every reason that keeps me from joining a group oriented religion has to do with them. It was a jarring realization for me--and a disappointment, but there you have it.
I hate arguing and conflict, especially over petty matters, and most especially when it disrupts any chance of getting useful things done. For this reason, I am glad that in my religious life, it is just me and my spirit allies. Sometimes I get wistful about becoming part of a group, or wonder how I could possibly serve and work with some of the spirits that call to me without one. But I'm just not built for habitual conflict. I don't even like being around it. I don't expect perfect unity and peace, but the amount of gratuitous bickering I have seen really puts me off.