Good People

I’ve been re-reading a book I have about Fred Rogers, famed host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.
I have such a deep and abiding respect for the man. He walked his walk and talked his talk. Who he was on TV was, by all accounts, who he was in person. A loving, caring, kind, patient presence.
Fred Rogers was a Methodist minister but never talked about God or Jesus in his show (which he considered to be his ministry). Instead, knowing that talk of God would turn some people off, he spoke of love. Looking back with that perspective, you can tell he’s talking of God’s love. But he doesn’t feel the need to say it.
Morality is a dicey thing to talk about when it comes to Pagans. Many of us react negatively due to having had someone else’s morality used as a weapon against us to tell us how flawed or wrong or sinful we are. But Fred Rogers was a good person, a deeply good person, and I find that admirable.
It gives me hope that in this world where there are so many mean, selfish, uncaring people…that we had someone like Fred Rogers who came into our lives as children every morning and told us that we were special, that we were loved, just the way we were.
I spent four years living in a Quaker-based intentional community when I first moved to Boston. It really impressed me to see people who were decent, compassionate, selfless “good” people..that I met through this community. Not the sanctimonious sort but really kind people.
I don’t want to impose morality upon Paganism, but I cannot help but find inspiration in other religions of how to be a “good” person while still maintaining my own religious practice.
There seems to be a sentiment among some Pagans and polytheists that being a good person isn’t important. That as long as we give offerings to the gods, ancestors, spirits, etc., that we can be whatever kind of person we want.
I’m not here to tell you otherwise. You practice your religion in the way that you feel is right for you and your Powers. But for me, personally, I believe that my religion is ineffective or incomplete if it is not making me a better person. If I am not becoming kinder or more compassionate to others…especially the poor, outcasts, downtrodden, hungry, etc., I don’t see my religion as being complete. I need to be making the world a better place for others in some way, shape, or form.
Whether it’s donating money or time to causes I believe in or through my words and deeds.
I understand that this may seem very Christian to Pagans. Meekness and compassion are not often seen as important values to polytheists…and perhaps to ancient Pagans they weren’t. Though we can find teachings of compassion in Hinduism, I have no problem admitting that I’ve been influenced by Christianity here. Because I’ve met people whose faith guided their actions and I respect that.
I don’t worship their God and don’t accept their Bible, but I think the Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount) are some of the most revolutionary teachings in all of human religious history and I see no reason to discard that.
If you’re a “warrior culture” polytheist, that’s great. You do you. But I am around only because people showed me great love and compassion. I believe I owe a debt to pay that forward and help others.

~ by R.M. McGrath on 10/21/2016.

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