It rests with us to make the traditions to set the pace for those who are to follow and so, upon our shoulders rests a great responsibility.
Esther Voorhess Hasson
Being a blog whose topics frequently include the intersection of Paganism, parenting, and life in general (just the other day for example), it should come as no surprise to any of my regular readers that I consider the idea of “pass it on” as one of my personal Pagan values (I guess you can take that statement at face value if you just stumbled in, lol). Since I’m sure nearly all of us can figure out at least a few reasons why “passing it on” is a good idea (if not, you might consider the fate of the Shaker sect of Christianity), I’m instead going to turn to the what and how.
Every now and then, The Hubby and I reevaluate what we want for and from our children (as well as ourselves and our family), and how we can best go about that. Our last major reflection, undertaken a couple years ago, led to our attending and eventually joining a Unitarian Universalist fellowship, initially because we were interested in providing our kids with the sort of formal religious education we hoped to find for our children (we stayed because the congregation is awesome). Our current extended discussion has been over schooling choices, since our daughter is the age to enter kindergarten and while we would prefer to continue homeschooling (the school district here is abysmal), I’m not sure that our finances will be conductive to doing so. Since The Hubby and I both come from Christian backgrounds (his a rather conservative Catholic, and mine, the very liberal United Church of Christ), another ongoing coversation has been about what traditions we want to build for our family and what values we want to pass on to our children.
I’ve said before that our goal as parents is to raise our children to be good people. This means that it is our goal to instill those values that we think are most conductive to creating future adults capable of rational thought, compassionate interaction and depth of experience that allows them to engage constructively with the world around them. And we feel Paganism and Unitarian Universalism is the best way to do that, because (between the two of them) they emphasize those values that we value, including a radical embrace of plurality, an acknowledgement of the sacredness inherent in the very fabric of the universe, respect and kindness for other living beings, the celebration of the collective knowledge of humanity and the exploration of the world and nature as a way to expand what it means to be human.
First and foremost, we do this by trying to be a good example ourselves. And it has been my experience that among the most important thing for a parent to be able to do as a good example is to admit when we are in the wrong. Right up there with admitting when we are wrong is to admit what we do not know, and to admit when something is an opinion. Unfortunately, it seems that many parents seem to think that these three things make them look weak, or ineffective, or…whatever–but really, showing your children that you an imperfect being that takes responsibility for your choices and decisions (and mistakes) teaches them how to be imperfect beings that take responsibility for their choices and decisions. Seriously, I think half the problems in the world could be eliminated if people could manage these three things.
Parenting is probably the most obvious way that one can “pass it on”, but its not the only way. Mentoring, teaching, volunteering–whether it be in the Pagan community on Pagan topics and ideas, or outside the Pagan community, for causes that reflect the ideals and values that are informed by our spiritual and religious beliefs. Heck, it can even just be the act of passing on the idea of this thing called Paganism. Believe it or not, but there are plenty of people that have no clue that there are still people that worship ancient gods, much-less the more nuanced theological ideas that abound in Contemporary Paganism.
Regardless of how we are called to pass it on (or whether or not we even want the responsibility of beomg called upon to pass it on), positive role models are always needed–inside and outside the Pagan community. And I think more positive role models are needed, particularly Pagan ones.
Any successful religion is successful because it fills a need, solves a problem, or answers a question that’s important to the people who follow it. In an era of climate change, oil spills and species loss, we need the message that Nature is sacred. In an era where patriarchy is desperately (and at times, violently) trying to reassert itself, we need to see that the Divine is female as well as male. In an era of religious and cultural tensions, we need the tolerance and acceptance that naturally flow from polytheism. In an era where people are in constant migration and have few roots, we need to learn to form connections to the land, to our ancestors, to our gods and goddesses and to each other.The 21st century Western world needs what Paganism has to offer.~John Beckett @ Under the Ancient Oaks, in his blog post “Pagan Evangelism”
***This has been a post for the annual Pagan Values Blogject–this year I’m blogging on my personal values and how they are informed by and in turn inform my spiritual and religious beliefs. In past years, I’ve blogged on the values that are central to our family (hospitality, service, integrity, and conservation) as well as those that I think are uniquely represented in the wider Pagan umbrella (respect, plurality, sacredness, and experiental gnosis). Other posts this year for this year include “my body, my temple”, and you can check back for more all month long! I challenge you to join in, no matter what your religion is!!***