While I was reading a link off Forever in Hell's blog (Lady Liberty's really wonderful How to Talk to Athiests, she definately did win the intrawebs today), it reminded me of an incident a while ago that had a lot to do with respect.
I'm a pagan. Have been for almost 20 years (dear God, 20 years? Wow). I'm not one of those nutso pagans with pentacles all over their desk at work and who make up really bizarre names for themselves or anything (in the pagan community we call those people "nuts". It's cool, you can call them that too). Paganism isn't as exciting as people seem to think it is. And by people I, of course, mean fundies.
My ex is also pagan. He's... well he's a lot more out there with it than I am. And because he's out there with it he demands the same respect for his religion that fundies get for theirs. A few years ago he mentioned that he was going to make up Solstice cards instead of Christmas cards and give them out to fundies. Now, this smacked of bad taste to me, and no better than a fundie shoving their belief down your throat. I told him that and he asked me if it was ok that they did that to us.
Of course not, but I happen to be realistic. Pagan is a huge umbrella term for a very large collection of religions. He and I don't even practice the same kind of paganism, not even close. Would I like someone to acknowledge my holidays? Sure, that would be neat. Would I expect most people to go out of their way to learn them? No, not unless they really wanted to. At the same time, would I go around yelling at them for not learning my religion? No, why would I? That's stupid. I would rather they let me be and I'll let them be and at Christmas I'll wish everyone season's greetings and be done with it.
This is respect to me. I respect other people and would not go around asking them if they had met my particular group of gods. I would not try to convince them that they need to believe what I believe or a huge wolf will eat them (ok, maybe now would be a good time to mention I'm Norse and by far we have one of the more rocking end of the world stories. Our Gods die. Seriously, all of them. How cool is that? What does that say about the emotional advancement of a culture that they will kill off their gods in a cultural mythos? It implies a state of mind that acknowledges that people don't always need someone up in the sky watching out for them. Right, done being a religion geek...)
People who are fundie in any religion will never understant that level of respect. The level of respect that Lady Liberty was talking about, the works not words level of faith, is simply impossible for people who do not believe. There, I said it. They really don't believe. And not in a "gee 'm not sure about this" kind of way, but in a "wow, this is really kind of wrong, but if I just talk louder it will be OK" kind of way. So they will never be able to respect another person's belief in anything. It's the respect that leads to tolerance. These people, like my ex, are incapable of even starting that journey. It's sad, but I still hope for them (I'm the eternal optimist when it comes to people, I always believe they will get better).
So these are the things I think when it's slow at work (thank you ice storm for shutting down the country!) Aren't you all glad I got a blog? Heh.