Speaking Up

Ok, I admit it: There are things I don't understand. It must surely be my fault, I just don't get it. One of the things that I sincerely, try as I may, fail to understand is the attitude that the majority of italian media have towards the pagan spiritual paths. Just a few days ago pagan sacred symbols were used to illustrate an article on dangerous cults: apart from the superficiality of the whole article, a tangled up mess of urban legends and very little else, the use of sacred symbols in connection with an alleged social danger posed by things that with this path have nothing to do is not only outrageous and unacceptable, but it is at the very least bizarre.

Now here we go again: following the tragic facts of Oslo and Utoya, several newspapers have published articles on the extreme right norwegian groups, mentioning things like rock metal music, satanism and, of course, paganism, What else? If not for the very simple fact that the norwegian slaughter was not perpetrated by a metal fan, nor a satanist and for sure not a pagan. Actually the killer of Oslo and Utoya has openly declared to be a christian fundamentalist, and this is fairly plain to see also by looking at his memorandum, which can be easily found on the web, all centered around the concept of the Knight Templar, the Knight of Christ, the Crusader. In a word, the very opposite of a metal fan, a satanist and especially a pagan.

Then how comes that, once again, the pagan and neopagan spirituality is defamed on the press for something that has no relationship whatsoever with it? The professionality of journalists is really this low in this country? Sure, we have to remember this is a strange nation, largely under vatican sovereignity one could say, but is this enough to explain the situation? Is it really just servilism towards the Holy See?

Personally I think that surely this exists, just as an extremely low average level of professionality amongst journalists, but what surely completes the picture and somehow encourages this attitude is the perception that these people have of the pagans: most of the time hidden amongst the shadows, we are not perceived as a social group deserving any kind of respect, quite simply. If the things that are regularly said about pagans were said about any other minority, the outrage would be immense. It's not a matter of relative size of the different groups; quite simply the journalists are aware of the fact that minorities need to be respected or there will be consequences, When it comes to pagans, this awareness simply does not exist. No journalist ever worries about the possibility of offending our religious sentiment. Why?

Probably it's exactly because of the fact that italian pagans are extremely shy in showing their faces, in letting their voices be heard, in demanding respect. Divided in a plethora of tiny groups, if not alone, most of the italian pagans prefer not to be heard or seen, and are therefore not perceived as a minority actually existing.

Obviously this situation is not acceptable, and to correct it an effort on everybody's part is needed. By stopping to accept that some things are written about us without raising our voices, to begin with: only through a constant pressure, made by every single pagan that will write a letter to protest every time a defaming article is published, we will manage to create the awareness that we should be treated with the same respect given to any other religious minority. Everyone is needed, we all must help.

It would also be useful to develop a stronger community: instead of creating many tiny groups, it would be more useful to give strenght to the larger ones already existing, giving them the strenght to make their voice heard and respected and, with it, our collective voices. In a country like Italy, so strongly individualist, it is surely a difficult task, but it is necessary if we really want to change things.