This morning, as I checked comments on yesterday’s blog post, one thoughtful commentator inquired as to how one could say that another was “in error” when one was not part of that person’s tradition. I left the following response, and realize now that my real “error” in first announcing that I would sit in silence last night was that I may not have been clear enough in my intentions. My hope is that this reply to my interlocutor will help to clarify, and further the discussion. If you have not read part 1 of this post, I request that you do so. Blessings, love, and respect.
What I feel is “in error” is not the holding of a Dianic ritual for cis-women only. It is not that this ritual occurred at Pantheacon. It was that — after the events, pain, and discussions of the last year, with so many of us doing our level best to learn from one another — we had this ritual led by a public figure who has made hateful comments which she had not retracted, or even apologized for. That this was her only offering to the Pantheacon gathering this year made it feel like even more of a slap in the face to me.
True pluralism is not simple tolerance. Pluralism requires us to make honest attempts to listen to each other and learn from one another, especially in the midst of strong disagreement. We cannot form a healthy, viable community if we only ever agree, or if we only ever say “you do your thing, I will do mine, and mostly we will ignore each other in the name of mutual tolerance.”
If we want to work toward love and justice, we must hold each other accountable sometimes and say, “This cannot stand.” Sitting in silent meditation last night was the best way I could think of to peacefully and respectfully say that, despite Z’s potent contributions to the community, the hate speech has gone on for too long.
Last night, I heard the pain and confusion in Z’s voice as she attempted – and failed – to get through her prepared statement to those gathered. I can be with her in that pain and still want to hold her accountable for words and actions. Public figures, by our sheer weight of influence, hold an even greater responsibility to do our level best to keep the Beloved Community in mind. Z’s influence, as we know, is large. This is not, therefore, only about privately held views and personal religious rites. This is about public discourse.
Pluralism requires open discourse, helped along, when possible, by private conversations. It is up to all of us to steer this process, contributing as best we can.
Last night, instead of speaking, I sat in the public square, as it were. Eighty nine others – of mixed genders and sexual preferences – sat as well. We sat in silence, and we prayed. Some also wept.