Tuesday, December 31, 2013

No Room for Error, No Room for Growth: The Zero-Tolerance Epidemic

Zero tolerance. The phrase is supposed to make us secure, knowing that certain things are simply not going to happen.

The marketing on it is solid and visceral. It appeals to our gut emotions, to our fears about the world. Bullying; not in our school! Discrimination; not in our workplace! Electronics; no distractions here!

What happens, though, is the same thing that happens any time we create a system of judgment and punishment that is black and white. When we encounter shades of gray, the system becomes a thing of fear, itself.
Not exactly the image of a predator.

The problem comes down to two major factors: age and social status.

We often punish children, very young children, for what we adults, experienced and jaded, see as being threatening and/or sexual. Children are being labeled as sex offenders when they often don't even know what sex is.

Others are actually doing such actions as a result from their own abuse. Instead of helping them, we expel or suspend them from perhaps the one place where they get away from their own abuser.

Ironically, the exact same thing happens in the bullying arena. Behaviors that were previously ignored are
now treated as a new and sudden epidemic. At the same time, we ignore that these behaviors are often either learned behaviors (children being abuse at home) or the result of learning and behavioral disorders that undermine the child's social skills.
Boys will be boys...
...is now expelled.

I'm not saying we should ignore the behavior or not try to right it. I'm saying we are reacting a an extreme way to something that has many causes, perceptions and ways of treating it.

This idea can be applied to prisons, too. We have taken the route that all law-breakers are unsalvageable monsters, despite the evidence that rates of recidivism (re-imprisonment) go down significantly when prisoners are treated with a certain amount of respect, given opportunities, and have a social safety net when they leave.

Throw in the concepts that low income, underprivileged individuals (perhaps those without options, choices, or good role models) are more likely to end up in prison, or that up to half of all prisoners are convicted of situational or victimless crimes, and you have a system that punishes... what, exactly?

There are many possible answers. Minorities is common. Those on the social fringes. Persons with mental handicaps. Persons with social handicaps, such as low social status, poor school systems, a lack of social support. Persons who have suffered forms of abuse that may lead to poor choices, bad learned behaviors, or mental disorders. The list goes on.

We should be trying to help people, not slapping their hands, locking them in the closet and expecting their behavior to magically right itself when it's over.

And, yes, I'm sure we will find some people who are incapable of changing, people who can't be trusted ever again. But we punish everyone like they are those people.

We need to find our compassion, do the dirty work, show mercy as we would have it shown to us, and get these people back on track.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Love this blog?

I, Kalisara, have compiled my favorite blog posts into a book, Witch Way to the Cookies?. You can find it on Amazon.com here or learn more about it on the facebook page, here.


Monday, September 9, 2013

The Goddess of Ick

Limnos, Greek Goddess of Hunger
There are hundreds of unique goddesses throughout history, around the world. Many of them have become inspirations for the women of our so-called post-feminist society. They represent the independent, capable women that define the modern goddess-woman. They teach us how to be mothers and workers in this new society of semi-equality.

Each goddess represents a side of womanhood: kind, compassionate, capable, nurturing, wise. These aspects are ones that we can understand. They are good and positive. We can say that we are these things, and say them with pride.

But there are still characteristics that many goddesses possess, which, even in our supposedly enlightened society, we see as negative qualities. These are the qualities that we ignore, or push aside as irrelevent. We brush over these things as too dirty, literally and metaphorically. We whitewash these less-then-desirable characteristics from our experiences of Goddess, or turn them into a lesson of who not to be.
Mud is natural for Sekhmet

These characteristics turn a goddess of the feminine into the Goddess of Ick.

But that may not be what these goddesses are telling us. There is strength in having these characteristics that are seen as mean or even weak.

These characteristics, these icky things, are what make a goddess powerful. The dirt and the blood, the so-called weaknesses, show us how to be better humans. They teach us how to be truly powerful women and men.

Even more, they help us to be complete. A shining example of personality is one-sided and, dare I say, boring. When you throw in these icky things, we, and the goddesses, become interesting, lively, whole and even more powerful.
Persephone was a victim,
so what makes her Goddess?

You can see the power of the Goddess of Ick in the way that children are safer playing in the mud then in being kept in a sterile environment. You can find the power in the blood and sweat and tears of a woman giving birth. You can find the darkness of the Goddess in deep black caves filled with teeming life: glowing fungi, slimy bacteria, blind bats, slugs and maggots.

The Goddess of Ick represents all that creates and destroys life. Light and cleanliness interfere with the lifecycle and represent the order that life cannot live in.

We fight so hard to keep our world clean and orderly, to prevent the mud and the dirt from coming into our homes, and into our lives. We sweep, we scrub, we bathe, we try to keep nature from entering our lives unannounced.

But the Goddess of Ick is nature, and she cannot be denied.

The truth of the matter is, we are the mud and the dirt; we are the Goddess of Ick.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Heathenry with Ryan

 Pagan-Musings Podcast has a show outlining Heathenry as a general topic. It is to be noted that Heathens are a diverse group of people with wide-ranging beliefs and practices, and all information should be taken as a part of that, but not representative of all.

Ryan of the Nebraska Heathens United group very kindly helped us with this topic. Several of his suggested resources are listed below.

Books mentioned:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Grand Adventure: Children's publishing

I have a new blog dedicated specifically to Pagan children, Pagan parenting, and Pagan children's books.

I will cross-post a lot, but not everything, so follow both blogs to get your full KaliMa fix.

Check it out here!

Growing Paganism

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blowing Bubbles: A response

Sometimes, the bubble shapes or colors
our perception of the world.
I read a blog post by Teo Bishop, a man I appreciate and admire for his well-though-out ideas and contributions to the Pagan community. This post was called: The Pagan Bubble. I recommend you read it. The following is my response:

One thing that struck me was the assumption that more mainstream groups don't have this bubble. But they do.
I have a cousin in a seminary college. We chat (in a quite friendly manner) on FB about topics. I read his posts. I google a lot of words/phrases when I do this. He is in his Christian seminary bubble, and I don't know all of the language.

Every industry I've worked in
is it's own little world.
In technical trades, we call the language portion of the bubble "jargon". Engineers have jargon. Lawyers have jargon. Doctors and nurses have jargon.

I work in a regulated industry: biopharma. We have jargon, but we also have a "culture", which must be learned in order to effectively operate in regulatory positions. This is known and discussed within the industry.

And, speaking of industries, most types of businesses, particularly technical ones, have "industry standard" procedures and standards. They can be meaningless to outsiders, but are make-or-break for those in the industry. I say this as someone who has argued about the color of signs and material labeling.

Every person has the perception of the world
encased in the bubble of their own experiences.
Everyone lives in a bubble. It is the bubble of our experiences - experiences that, realistically, not everyone has. Whether it's the bubble of culture of the deep south, or the bubble of being "in the know" of talent agencies, rattling off specific colors, textures and fabrics with other designers, or discussing steaming vs blanching with other chefs...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Little Bit of (Bad) Luck

Today I was discussing some of the issues that have come in to my life of the past few months. I was talking with a Wiccan, who I hadn't seen in several months, so we were more or less catching up. It was at this point that I realized that our spiritual paths and philosophies diverged drastically.

You see, there have been many unfortunate incidences that have occurred in my life over the past several months. Now, the situations that have come up have not been pleasant by any means. However, I never really looked at them as being a form of cosmic punishment or retribution. But that's exactly what she questioned me on.

First, she asked me who I pissed off; then, and she asked who I had wronged. I explained that we don't do that kind of stuff. We're not into hexing; we're not into cursing. We don't piss people off. We're actually really quiet and boring, and we stay home and watch TV.

Then I mentioned that, aside from all of the rather nasty things that have been happening, certain things in my life are actually going really well. I mentioned that I had finally found a serious motivation to work on my writing. I also mentioned that the writing was going really well, and that I had networking and contacts that I'd never even considered before.

She then suggested that we were not making appropriate offerings toward our gods. This is not only patently incorrect, but also rather inappropriate considering our gods do not demand offerings of us.

So she asked what I was writing about, and if that could have anything to do with my bad luck. I mentioned my science-fiction novel, and she said, "no, that's not it." So I said that the only thing I was working on with any kind of potential for offense was the Goddess of Ick. As soon as I mentioned it, she said. "Drop it."

Now, there's something that you have to understand at this point. The Goddess of Ick is an idea that has sprung from the collective experience and belief system of my entire spiritual life. This book is getting written, even if it's just for me. Telling me to "drop it" is definitely the wrong way to go. So I told her that... nicely.

She then suggested that I was being punished for vanity. After some clarification, I realized she was talking about my sense of pride and success in my writing. When we parted ways, I had a disturbing sensation. I was distinctly uncomfortable. It took me a few minutes to figure out why: she was assuming that I had done something wrong.

She seemed to truly believe that a person could only have this kind of general bad luck if they had either been bad, or redirected somebody's karma, or were otherwise being punished.

The thing is, it never crossed my mind that I was being punished. And I don't think that it's because I was being dense about it. Really this entire situation has felt more like fire. As in, the flames of the forge making one stronger.

Could I really be that delusional? Well, I don't think so.