It’s funny how you don’t realize that things are changing until something happens that makes the progress clear. It’s too easy I suppose to get into one mindset and just stay with it as time goes on. Or perhaps its that some changes are so slow that they sneak up on us, so that we turn around one day and realize that the way things used to be is a thing of the past and we are living in a new world.
There was an uproar among the pagan community recently when comments were made on a Fox news show that were derogatory towards Wiccans. This isn’t the first time that this sort of thing has happened; in the past there have been incidents along the same lines from portrayals in movies and TV shows that depicted Wiccans badly to news articles filled with misinformation. What surprised me initially was that the host’s comments, while offensively stereotypical, were also fairly tame. It seemed to me that not long ago we were fighting to separate ourselves from years of being called evil and feared; that alone tells me that we have come very far indeed in educating the public about the more popular Pagan faiths. What shocked me though is that the show’s host actually apologized for his comments. Despite the online uproar and petitions circulating, despite the outrage and major Pagan groups issuing statements, I didn’t expect the Wiccan reaction to even be noted in the mainstream, never mind acknowledged and respected.
I have been pagan since 1991; I became pagan at a time when we still had a lot of work to do to be accepted as a legitimate religious choice. I remember a time when few people had ever heard the word Wiccan and those that had rarely understood anything about the faith. In the past 22 years I have seen Wicca move to the forefront of the Pagan rights movement. I have seen Wicca fight for legal rights in the courts and win. I have even seen Wiccan soldiers earn the right to have a pentacle as a symbol of their faith on military gravestones. But nothing speaks to me more of the progress we have made as a faith community than the fact that we are in a place where we can be offended by a mainstream news program, ask for an apology, and get the public apology we wanted.
Progress is real and it is happening, even if it comes too slowly to see the day to day changes.