In the past I have written quite a bit about being Pagan in the Military, from my Dog Tags to the Order of the Pentacle and the Pentacle Quest. I've written about Pagan Prison Chaplaincy and other experiences where being Pagan has been challenging. As Pagans we often face persecution and discrimination from our government, our communities and even our families.
But we're not alone, many others face the same issues for their faith. While serving in Iraq my team and I operated a forward observation post outside the relative safety of the base parameter.
We spend months camped out on the roof of a school building at the University of Al Anbar. During that time we came to know the local Muslim community very well. One of the local leaders was Mr. Naji, he and I spent much time together teaching each other our languages. What started out as "me Tarzan, you Jane" quickly evolved into fluent conversation. I would speak Arabic and he would speak English. We shared meals, and talked at length over his nice hot chai tea and my American cigarettes.
It turned out that he served as a Sergent Major when our counties fought in Operation Dessert Storm, and that he was imprisoned for three years once just for saying "Fuck Saddam." We each learned a great deal from each other, about our cultures, communities, families and our religions. We traded prayer beads and even prayed together. I learned a lot about the Islam and even learned the important prayers in Arabic. Later I became known as Joe Awad Saleh Al Rishawi, an honorary member of the Rishawi tribe. And when the Wahhabi insergents came, they warned us, advised us, and saved our lives.
When the reality show "Muslims in America" aired, I was of course a big fan of the show. I watched the persecution and discrimination they encountered here in America, and my empathy is two fold. We share so much, being hated, misunderstood, misrepresented and demonized.
Last week on Facebook, this Petition link came across my news feed, I perpetuated it to the best of my ability, and I take this opportunity to do it again here. I have seen a lot of changed in the climate towards Pagans, and I think its time to adjust the thermostat once again. I happen to know for a fact that there are some producers who are interested in such a show! So please sign this petition; recruit, proselytize, beg, borrow and steal to get as many people as you can to sign this petition! It only takes a single grain of rice to tip the scales, and you might just be the one.
Thank you Lord & Lady for all the Change, Blessed Be.