Posted in [witchcraft & wonder]

Thoughts on Hasan and the death penalty

Today, Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan was sentenced to death. In 2009, he killed 13 people and injured more than 30 others. He put up no defense, clearly stating that he’d done it on purpose.

It is in this one area of society that I am not liberal.

I don’t believe that someone who wishes to die for their crime should be denied that wish.

I don’t believe that we (taxpayers) should get stuck paying for him to live while the appeals process runs its course (against his will).

I don’t believe that a publicly-witnessed mass murderer should get a trial, not when he was shot (but not killed) to stop the attack.

I believe the person who shot him should’ve aimed better.

I believe that a person who murders with intent and makes no denial is unworthy of sympathy.

I believe that the benefits of putting down a dangerous animal outweigh the concerns over its right to live; this applies to rabid dogs and violent people.

I will never find a modern death penalty to be unjust or unfair, given the amount of evidence that often precedes such a verdict.

I will always find it unfair when a murderer gets to live while his victims’ families get to weep.

I realize that this is a harsh and unbending way to look at justice. Thankfully, I’m not a judge nor would I be the lone voice of a jury. I’m one woman whose blood boils hot when injustice is served, and I live too close to this particular case to be objective. It will be hard to ignore Hasan’s existence and pretend we all get to move on, just as it will be hard not to pray he takes his own life (or has it taken from him) soon.

Actually, a part of me is most angered by men like Hasan due to their necessity. Balance must occur, and that means “evil” (negativity, violence, hate, etc.) must exist. It turns my stomach to accept that my spirituality demands I accept that this, too, is part of the whole. I do accept it, though, just as I accept that it will never go down smooth.

Posted in [witchcraft & wonder]

Random Philosophical Question

As a Wiccan, I often think about random ethical situations for fun. That’s totally normal, right?

ANYway… my random philosophical thought today is: Can you apologize without being sorry?

When you apologize, you express an excuse for some fault, insult, failure, or injury (via When you’re sorry, you feel regret, compunction, sympathy, pity, etc.

I can apologize for not doing more to help end the use of sweat shops, but I don’t feel sorry for it. My clothes come from thrift stores; I don’t personally buy into the negative clothing market except for underwear items.

I can apologize for not wanting to help out Syria, but I’m not sorry for wanting my people to stay safe and far away from someone else’s troubles. Our troops are worn and broken enough, and I’m tired of being a country at war. We weren’t always this way, and I can’t find sympathy for another country when they’ve torn themselves to pieces.

I can be sorry for being harsh in my views on helping other countries when our own is in a tough place, but I won’t apologize for putting my own people first. I do feel regret, especially knowing so much waste happens here while people in Africa face crop failure and food/water scarcity daily. I pity their plight, but I don’t apologize for having no answers, no solutions to those problems (nor do I apologize for thinking that the money we’ve been throwing at the problem isn’t helping).

So, can you apologize without being sorry? Can you feel sorry without apologizing? I’d say yes.

Posted in [witchcraft & wonder]

Morality and Ethics

When the news people come around, who always finds the cameraman’s attention? The person least suited to be an accurate representation of the group he or she is speaking for. You see it in a disaster area; it’s always some uneducated ninny. It’s getting better, but often when some news group decides to look into New Age paganism, they find the MOST obnoxiously stereotypical pagan to interview (whitelighters and all).

That said, I think it’s far too easy to fall into the same trap with your own judgments.

Christians are judgmental. They base their entire moral structure on ancient (and often interpreted-as-needed) scriptures, then proceed to force it down everyone else’s throats as The Way to Be. They take no personal responsibility for any of their actions; either the Devil made them do it, or they confess and ask for forgiveness to make all well again. They are often hypocrites, saying one thing and doing another.

Generalizations S-U-C-K. Quit nodding. You’re about to feel bad for agreeing with any of that.

Christians are as varied in belief and practice as pagans are, if you take even a moment to look and even ask. This is where it helps to not just consider that conversation you had with the man who said you were going to hell because he saw your pentacle necklace; I’d like you to think of the non-confrontational examples of Christians you’ve met. If you don’t have any, find some! Many of them try to follow some pretty awesome teachings: do unto others as you would have done unto yourself, let he who is without sin cast the first stone, turn the other cheek, thou shalt not kill, love thy brother (actually, I happen to love the quote “love is gently, love is kind” from the Bible). Christianity is actually a beautiful religion, in many MANY ways. Most Christians aren’t religious enough to feel a need to even discuss their religion with others, unless the topic is brought up; they don’t often preach at anyone. Society teaches us (unfortunately) that someone else is always to blame; this isn’t a failing of Christian teachings, but a failing of the society as a whole. And hypocrisy is EVERYWHERE, even in pagan circles. *gasp*

I’ve watched pagans be judgmental. Not just of Christians, but of each other! They have their path, tradition, or branch of paganism, and anyone who dares approach it without invitation is scoffed at. For example, some traditional Wiccans (i.e. those in branches of the path that trace themselves back to its start with Gerald Gardner) will slap a pagan silly for even thinking of themselves and the word “Wiccan” in the same sentence. Or a Druid might snear at a circle that’s calling deities from their base culture.

It’s sad. Many pagans are willing to accept personal responsibility for their magickal actions, but their mundane lives stand as a separate entity. Harming none only applies to hexes, not to treating your neighbors with kindness while their dogs keep shitting in your yard. We are sometimes hypocrites, too.

This whole thought-train came from watching my circle discuss ethics. Our tradition embraces “Equal Truths, Equal Magicks”, that there is validity in EVERY path, not just the ones we like. And yet I watched us, new and old alike, talk about how Christian morality is inferior compared to pagan ethics. I listened to a discussion of morality and ethics (neither of which necessarily belonging to ANY spirituality) fall apart into a chorus of comments on the failures of Christianity and the intelligence of pagans for taking responsibility for their actions.

I’d like to say that maybe we should all take responsbility for failing our own tradition’s guidelines. I take personal responsibility for not speaking up, even as I sat there and listened and disagreed.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: there is beauty and simplicity in following a structure of moral behavior, just as there is a striking freedom and joy in following a path of personal ethics. No one path is good for everyone, and that applies to understanding right/wrong decisions as well. We aren’t all built to handle the pressure of being held accountable for every thought, word, and deed; some would break under the strain. Some of us are wired to a natural tendency to refuse to follow a rule without an explanation as to why it is so. Others are born with a need for security and structure, for rules and regulations to help guide the way. Neither is better. Remember that.