Sunday, 27 May 2012

Pagans for RH?

I am Aldrin and I am a Filipino-Lebanese naturalistic pagan in favour of the immediate legislation of the Reproductive Health Bill. But, where does one start in talking about the 'pagan" opinion on reproductive health? Nowhere, to be honest. We are not a church, nor a tribe; we're not even a single religion. 'Pagan' is an umbrella term (a very LARGE umbrella term) for various religious paths from the fairly modern Wicca to the indigenous religions of our non-industrial neighbours that stretch back thousands of years into prehistory. How united are we, really? Not so much, last I checked. We love our autonomy, and it's exactly this love for self-rule and free thinking that got our pre-colonial ancestors into trouble with the forces of cultural hegemony. Hundreds of years later into the age of portable computers and 3-in-1 coffee, here we are again, in another 'clash of cultures'. A clash between those who look past religious differences to work together for the benefit of our people, and those who wish to impose their 'sectarian' dogma on a secular, multicultural nation.

We, of the neglected 'minorities', wish to remind the "Dámasos" of our age that -- though they are free to stand by what they claim to be 'true' -- it is up to the conscience of each individual, Christian or otherwise, to decide on what to do with one's own body, and how each should go about one's life.

We, of the neglected minorities, would like to remind these self-declared "holy" men that they can no longer bully families into being 'good sheep' rather than free thinking, rational human beings.

Coming from a life-affirming, celebratory religion, I not only uphold the importance of life, but also the quality of life. Couples, and especially mothers, should be able to choose how many children they can afford to sustain, or if they want to have any children at all. Consequently, our children should not be denied of their right to proper education about their bodies -- a right long denied to our people by our backward cleric-run hierarchy.

All that said, I come here before you as one pagan, not as a representative of many -- however similarly inclined we are. To declare full representation would be contrary to the pagan spirit of autonomy. But this, I can say: I will not be silenced, and neither should any of my brothers and sisters. To be defeated by silence would be against our values as pagans; an insult to our ancestors who bravely fought and died for liberty.

So, I urge those of you who walk similar paths as I, honouring our ancestral gods and celebrating the cycles of nature, to stand up and step forth from the shadows of indifference and passivity. We will neither be silenced by others nor allow ourselves to be silent. As we speak, our pro-RH brothers and sisters within the Catholic Church have voiced out their support; I likewise urge other pagans to do the same if they truly care.

We are a secular, multicultural democracy, guided not only by our noble ancestry, but also by modern science and reason. But, all this is babble if we do not stand up for it; if we do not live by it.

I, as a Filipino pagan, but more importantly, as one who strives to be a decent, rational human being hereby sign my full support to the RH Bill. If you truly care about our women, our children, and our future... you will, too.

[Written originally for the Interfaith RH Forum, 22 March 2012]

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