Anger, Passion, Reason and Responsibility
We heathens tend to be an incendiary lot, particularly online. We can be extraordinarily dismissive of others and exceptionally certain of our own accuracy. Many heathens seem to love a certain form of dogmatism, sometimes called Edda thumping. I recognize that, at some level, we are all reconstructing a defunct tradition with different tools. Most of us have to use some sort of scholarly tools, reading Eddas, sagas and other works to find a starting point. I grant that some may not but even many of those I meet who have abandoned the title heathen or reconstructionist are frequently still well read, even when they cite nothing.
We also talk a lot about honor and hospitality, sometimes quoting the Havamal or other sources. We talk about the strengths of our friendship and communities at length and some of us hold this out as making us superior to those terrible Wiccans or other groups for these perceived strengths. But, like other religious groups, we seem to resolve our greatest vitriol for those on the paths closest to us who don’t happen to use precisely the same methods. Now, one can argue that this is common to the human condition but we are generally the type of person who constantly strive to better ourselves. And therefore, I raise this question:
Is this bickering and sometimes threatening archetype what we really need to be?
I have seen men on heathen forums or blogs imply that they would not mind if another’s house burned down. I realize that we sometimes idealize our raider ancestors but we do now live in the 21st Century. If we want to be taken seriously, should we not also consider that violent talk in public does not truly help our cause? I write about anger, rage, berserkergang and other things here. I do so because I believe they are a part of the human condition and denying them is foolish and sometimes dangerous. I look at both the lighter and darker sides of this. (If the terms are new, consider this article: http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/berserke.shtml)
And yet, our ancestors struggled with this as well. Those who did too much harm became outlaws or the lowest of men. Control was still expected. In fact, while it is part of the Christian Icelandic legal code, a law was eventually passed that required others to restrain the man who went berserk or else face the same penalty. (See above article.)
So, my challenge to any reading this is threefold:
1) Consider your words before you speak them, especially the violent ones.
2) Consider why this other person offends you so and whether their difference with you is really that important. What harm does their existence actually do you?
3) Counsel calm when others rage and laud those (in public or private) who do not succumb to such urges.
I see much that is positive in us and it hurts when someone I like or respect has stepped away when others were belligerent jerks because this person was “Not like us”. Seriously? Our ancestors traded with EVERYONE.