myth of the poor pagan and stereotyping

I was digging through some old archives on a yahoo newsgroup and ran across a few posts by a pagan and her non-religious husband about how most pagans are poor, have poor business practices, and how "they don't have to be poor".

How narrow-minded. How shallow.

Let's face it, folks, most of America is split between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. The majority of Americans can be considered the 'have-nots' and stereotyping the neo-pagan community as such is the sign of a narrow-minded individual.

Firstly, in my own personal experience, the 'poor pagans' are generally out of the broom closet. They live in such a way as they do not generally care who knows they are pagan and they either do not advertise it, they wear their markers discreetly but don't parade it, or they wear their symbols proudly and will share their beliefs with anyone and everyone. The 'haves' in the pagan community, well, they have had a tendency to be much more subtle about sharing their beliefs, because the fact of the matter is, they are the minority and although we are a country that preaches 'melting pot' and diversity, there is a lot of prejudices in our culture, specifically against the words 'heathen', 'pagan' and witch.

I also believe that this 'poor' trait stems from something much more fundamental in pagan beliefs too. The majority of people who declare themselves pagan, openly or in the broom closet, well, they don't really focus on money, do they? They focus on the family, the tribe, and the importance of community, many things which are base in our beliefs. Having a savings account filled with thousands of dollars or a good IRA is one thing, but the majority of us would spend our last pennies to make sure that those we have in our 'tribe' are fed, clothed, and have a roof over their heads.

I have never personally been 'well-off' or blessed with more money than I really know what to do with. However, when wealth and abundance has blessed me, I have fully extended that, shared that, with both friends and family in the order to make their lives easier. To me, my family was more important than a huge bankroll. To me, my friends being okay was worth more than a brand new car.

Hurricane Ike is a grand example - you can have it all, everything you ever wanted (this example being on beachfront property), and have it taken away in an instant. What then?

I think this myth-conception (yes, every pun intended) is through the misunderstanding of our true values. Most people become pagan because of heritage and tribe, not dollars and stocks. Most people become pagan because they have a need for family, for understanding, and for a sense of fellowship and community. You don't need a 300 dollar wand, you don't need a solid silver incense burner.

As for business practices and professionalism, frankly, if you hire anyone that isn't a well-established business with references, you're playing russian roulette with whatever you're project is. If you're specifically hiring the pagan community and you don't take the same issues into consideration, you're setting yourself up for defeat and you're propagating a stereotype. There are a LOT of self-employed people who do really good jobs with references. Dumb you if you choose an individual who isn't because you choose them out of their religion and not their references. Pagans get hired all the time, and just like any other faith, race, or creed, you're going to get your slackers and poor people. They're across the board and not limited to faith.

So before you go on preaching about how much better you are because you've chosen to be successful, make sure you have the understanding of the community and society as a whole before you bang on about the pagan community. There are plenty of pagans who are successful and just because you don't see them easily doesn't mean they're not there. In fact, I am on several newsgroups and am stunned that I seem to be the only one without a degree in something (which soon I will work to change).

Stop and think before you open your mouth and show the world you haven't.

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