Entitlement – the Plague of Paganism

I can’t tell if I’m just growing more bitter toward other pagans, or if I’m just -in the past few years, tossing aside the rose-tinted glasses so many pagans look at life through that things really start to bug me. I’m president of a pagan networking and education organization that has been around since August 2003 in my area. I helped found it, do a lot of the work to keep it running and mostly fund it myself. I get really annoyed when people ask for things, then don’t want to help and won’t commit to come to them once we say, “Sure, we’ll do that.”

No one wants to help and I think it’s that hippie mentality that so many pagans have that I want this, I want it for free and I want it available to me whenever I want it. There’s this hippie idea of a barter society and communal living and in reality, that wouldn’t work because like so many others sects of society, pagans are inherently lazy entitlement monkeys. Let me break it down from the perspective of someone who works behind the scenes, as it were:

I Want This

You have no idea how many times new people come into our organization and say they want diverse rituals. They want them to cover the sabbats, or esbats, but they don’t necessarily want them to be of any flavor other than eclectic pagan with a Wiccan formula. Though, while I might be able to truthfully say my annual Ares libation ritual has the second highest attendance of any of our offered events, excluding our coffee nights, that’s still only pulling in about 20 locals. But people want Beltanes, they want Ostaras and they want Yules. But I, personally, am sick of coordinating events to only have the same 10 or so people show up. This is not a coven. I won’t want it to be a coven.

We get asked for drum circles and educations days, but no one wants to host or present. And when one of the directors hosts one, or coordinates it, no one shows up.

I get especially frustrated when I get told, “I’d like to learn about topics that aren’t the same old Wiccan 101 shit.” Well, that’s nice. But when I spent months putting together a very informative Everything You Wanted to Know about Hellenismos But Didn’t Know Where to Look talk, three people showed up. Three. People. But if someone does basic “Wiccan 101 shit” Everyone comes out of the woodwork for it. Even when the topic the presenter gives is ill researched and I spend most of the time correcting their information. This is frustrating for those of us beyond the basic 101 paganism level.

I Want it For Free

As I’ve said before, I do most of the funding for our organization. Sure there is fundraising such as garage sales and the occasional donation from a member, but mostly… it comes out of my pocket. Someone has to front the cost of the campsite rental for our annual spring camping trip and there isn’t enough in the coffers to do it from the business account. This is where the problem lays, I think. The fact that people forget that non-profits, while non-profit, are still businesses. We still have operating costs. I probably fork out somewhere between $300 and $600 a year, on average, in personal donations. Our operating costs aren’t high, mind you, but they exist. Let me break this down, just a bit:

PO Box – roughly $60 annually
Web hosting and domain – roughly $100 annually
park shelter rental for picnic – roughly $100 annually
spring camping site rental – roughly $100 annually
fall camping site rental – roughly $100 annually
supplies reimbursement – roughly $200 annually

With even just my donations, we’re still roughly $60 in the hole. We make it work, with donations from others, but it’s tight, very tight. So we charge or ask for donations at events. Even if it’s just a $5 “suggested” donation to cover space, time and supplies, people don’t show up. Because dear god, $5 is breaking the bank. They should get everything they want for free.

And I’m not exaggerating that. I’ve heard that on numerous occasions from numerous pagans. Neither do they want to offer time to make things work. Even if that time is only street promotion of the event. No, that’s too much work. We should just pay for advertising. It’s ridiculous.

I Want it When I Want It

This is particularly frustrating. We’ll get people who say, a week before Beltane, “I’d like it if we did a Beltane ritual or festival.” And we’ll say, “that’s great, but we don’t have the resources available to get this together on a weeks notice this year. We’d be happy to put something together for next year. Would you like to be on a planning committee for that?” And then we never hear from that individual again.

Or, like my presentation last Friday, someone expresses interest in the topic and we plan it for a future date. Only to not have the interested party show up. Now I know Fridays are hard. I know, I understand. I don’t particularly like to give up my weekends for other people either. But practice and experience have shown that people don’t show up for things we put on Monday through Thursday either. Our Book Club was prime example for that. The same four or five people showed up every month. Four or five people. Now, at this very moment, we have 125 members on our facebook group. That’s less than 5% of our membership.

Now for other events, somewhere between 10-12 regulars come to things. That’s less than 10%, folks. Less than 10% given enough of a shit to actually do anything, but when something comes up they don’t like, I will guarantee -by experience, that at least 75% will speak up thinking they are entitled to more.

WTF people? What. The. Fuck?

Stop it. Stop being so fucking entitled. If you want something, be prepared to put some effort forth for what you want. Even if that’s just getting up off the couch and going to an event. Don’t just flap your gums if you don’t have any intention of actually showing up or helping. It’s frustrating to those of us in leadership positions.

Just… stop it.

I think I’ve ranted enough for today. Oy.

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3 Comments to “Entitlement – the Plague of Paganism”

  1. Sometimes I wonder what it was like to practice back in the 1970s (and earlier). Were there more dedicated pagans because there were so few groups, and with less members? And those without the gumption to create some kind of lasting support or ritual group would never form in the first place.

    Perhaps people nowadays (or even in the past) are too preoccupied with their outside lives, and while they may wish to developed their inner, spiritual ones, they lack the initiative to do so. They would rather let people lead them around by the nose towards spiritual enlightenment, with little or no effort on their part.
    The larger the population of believers, the greater the number of individuals present whom lack the dedication to do all that is necessary to maintain an organization. There are lazy individuals of this type present in all religions, but many of these groups don’t suffer to much for it, because they have enough dedicated individuals and $MONEY$ to make it all work.

    Absent money (or just compensation to dedicated individuals), IMO, Paganism, by its sometimes freeform nature, lends itself to only forming small groups composed of dedicated individuals. In order to get larger and more cohesive, it might be necessary to tithe members, unless some kind of work agreement (in exchange for tithing). If those under a work agreement don’t follow through with what they agreed upon, they are out of the group (unless they acquience to be tithed).

    This would definitely chase away the lazy pagans people constantly bitch about. But, I think, if people refuse to make some kind of commitment (whether monetarily or work-wise), then little will happen and the bitching about lack of dedication will continue.

    I wouldn’t call myself an expert in the matter of creating cohesive, large groups though. I am a solitary pagan (solitary because there are very few Kemetics around my area), and have had very little contact with groups. (I do have a twice a month contact with a couple of groups—a meetup and a circle that is loosely based on Reclaiming—but these groups are very small, and the dues are tiny, if any). I’ve never been a member of a large group. I don’t even recall being asked to do anything, except for making presentations, but that was something I wanted to do, even though I don’t really consider myself a good presenter. Maybe some people don’t realize what they have to gain from being dedicated. I’ve never been asked to give people rides or help set up tables, probably because I never considered that I was needed in that area. But if people need help, they should ask, not assume people will help.

    PS: I think why some people are ‘lazy’ is because they fear not knowing what to do, or have some level of low self-esteem in that area, not believing in their ability to get the job done. And they don’t want to ask what to do for fear of appearing ignorant. (And the latter can be a strong fear I myself have experienced).

    • I would agree with that whole-heartedly if it wasn’t for the fact that the group I did the work for was well aware of what we needed. We asked for help regularly. There were postings on our email groups, later years our Facebook group, we asked at our coffee clutch nights… it just all went ignored.

      Ah well. I learned my lesson, I guess.

      • Sadly, being well aware of what is needed does not necessarily equate with united action to get those needs fulfilled. (Something I am sure you are well aware of). You are certainly not the first person to experience this, and will not be the last. Maybe it has something to do with the quality of characters (or lack thereof) Paganism regularly attracts?

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