When you look at any heathen organization, it is hard to separate the whole from the individual. Why shouldn’t we expect organizations to look more closely at the individual? It seems to me that what each member does reflects on the kindred or organization as a whole and just because it might be ‘difficult’ or impossible for someone to monitor all activity. With the available technology to ‘follow’ people on Twitter and Facebook as well as subscribe to blogs it seems logical that we should utilize the tools available. We know that privacy is a slowly disappearing thing in the world. Yes privacy is great!! But not when you’re in a public institution. If people who work in public sectors are ‘watched’ by their employers it seems that it would be perfectly fine to monitor activity in much the same way. I am not saying that we should eliminate all privacy and there are some details that I feel could be kept private such as the names and address of people in your organization or group especially with under-age members. There is no need for ‘public’ record but organizations and kindreds should be subscribed, followers and networked to each other. It is not hard to maintain social connections regardless of distance.
It surprises me that organizations don’t seem to know what is going on or seem to care much when complaints are brought to their attention. The fact is there are many organizations out there that do great work. But, it is wrong to make it seem that you’re the only game in town or that you have all the answers, because let’s face it, you don’t. I dislike the fact that many posts on-line seem to be very one sided, and when you post in opposition to these thoughts it seems that it does not matter what you think!! I will give you an example. Recently there was a post on-line stating that there were NO organizations already existing that supported Loki worship. Not only was this not true but when I posted several that do it went immediately back to the fact that none do…even when this post was countered with many others who posted factual and accurate information that Loki supporters existed the posts went on about how they did not…It was frustrating to say the least!! It makes me wonder if those on-line have already made up their minds and are not open to hearing anything in opposition to what they think.
It boggles my mind that organizations put people in charge that should not be, that they don’t care what the rest of heathenry thinks of them but are more than happy to point out how wrong you are. They have no problem posting people’s real names but I bet would not be too happy if you did the same. I find these acts very aggressive and not becoming to the heathenry to which I came.
I believe in community, I believe in creating structure. But, I don’t tolerate any member making us look bad and I have in my life completely severed relationships with people that do this. I think favouritism is hard to avoid. I have loyal members here, people who have been here since our inception and it is these who I trust the most, but this is not meant to show favouritism. Loyalty is hard to come by and I believe in cultivating those who will be loyal to not only the gods but also the group.
But I think there is a problem with this! How do people know whether someone is a ‘member’ and what constitutes membership in an organization or kindred.
Membership I think it is very important to understand that a ‘member’ of an organization or kindred is usually someone who pays membership fees. They are someone who the org/kindred lists as a member (publicly or privately) or is considered a member by that organization or kindred. So how are any of us to tell who is a member?? Well in all honesty you can’t! But, I think that heathens should NEVER assume that someone is a member of an organization or listen to anyone who claims to be from that organization unless they are the ones recognized as ‘leaders’. Perhaps that’s why many groups post pictures of their priesthood or of their ‘officials’ so that people can put a face to a name!!
It is a big issue in our community because anyone can defame your group without you knowing about it or because they have a grievance with you. Although I would LOVE to believe that all things die down and disappear, I know better!! They don’t and there will always be ‘haters’ out there who constantly strive to discredit and abuse. That is not just within heathenry; that is every organized anything in which ‘politics’ are involved.
However, would it kill people to email the organization?? Would it hurt to find out if statements, position and thoughts being presented are in fact the official stance of these organizations? Also would it kill an organization or kindred to post their views PUBLICALLY?? Is it that hard to answer an email….seriously? I don’t buy this…’oh there is just too many emails to respond to’! It pays to respond!! Trust me!! When you don’t you are seen as uncaring, cold and heartless.
From: Glenn Bergen A New Friend : The Kenaz Kindred:
For the first 25 years, the people I spoke to in our religion, if I was able to get in touch with them at all, were rude, uncooperative, and in some cases even abusive. Over the past two years, however, I have met some very nice people from our religion who are really, and truly interested in the well – being of our Asatru folk. Because of the hard work and kindness of these individuals I decided last month to start up a Links Page on my web – site. You will not find very many organizations on my Links Page, but the ones that are there are listed because they are good organizations run by wonderful people who have your best interest at heart. I do not extend my hand in friendship very often to organizations, groups, or kindreds, and do not send my readers to others unless I feel that they will benefit YOU, my loyal readers. My newest friend, and link, is The Kenaz Kindred, of Ontario, Canada. This wonderful little site is run by a busy little mom named Larisa C. Hunter, who is the Godia of the Kindred. She is also an author (check out her book “Fulltrui : Patrons in Asatru ” ), and a rather good poet. She, like me, has posted poems on Odin’s Gift. But most of all (Mrs.) Hunter, also known as Mist, is a very nice person who actually answers e – mails, and I believe can help those who are just starting out in our religion. Excerpt From: http://www.anindependentasatru.com/1/post/2011/12/a-new-friend-the-kenaz-kindred.html
Would it be such an inconvenience to confirm people as being members or affiliated?? I don’t think it would take very much time to do that. If you hear something about a group from someone why not ask the group about it?? Why not talk to other people, find out what they think instead of focusing on the one negative!!
Why do the heathens in the community listen to people they just met as opposed to finding out for themselves! I have done my bit being public in the community but frankly after hauling myself around Ontario for two years, getting sunburnt and having a varying interest/support from those festivals. In many cases the festivals cater to both pagan and heathen faiths and often the pagan faiths being a bit more accessible tend to take a lot of the focus. This is not their fault, and I do not blame them but I often would appreciate it if there was an opportunity somewhere for heathens to be the focus.
I am a big believer that if no more than 5 people can confirm something as 100% true then it is likely not!! I am also a believer in finding out for myself…do some research, read what that organization/kindred has written, find out if they appear anywhere and ask others!! It will not take long before you find someone who tells you something very different!! And why? Because all experiences are individual!! Just because one or two people may not like something or someone is not ‘general consensus’ it is opinion! So form your own!! Find out for yourself if what people are saying is true, you may find yourself regretting having listened to the opinions of one person. When I give my opinion, I always qualify it by saying…”but this was years ago” or “but that’s just my opinion” because I am not here to brainwash people. It’s great if you go to a festival and you had a wonderful time!! Just because I did not like something or have an issue with someone does not mean you will too. To me it’s mindless zombie syndrome and too like Christianity for my taste.
I have been very outspoken in my life, and am probably regarded as having said things which were mean or unkind about people, I am not going to defend my actions or apologize. I am a person, who has opinions, and sometimes those opinions are not that positive…but that’s the way I feel. I am entitled to have opinions…what I don’t do is tell the world to avoid someone just based on what I feel…I try very hard to direct people to festivals or places that they might like a bit better based on their interests, but who knows if the festival I went to eight years ago is still there or even what I remember it to be.
The point I am making is, never assume that one opinion is everyone’s opinion! See for yourself!! If you have a complaint about someone, take it up with them!!
The Watchful Eye
I believe that all heathens have strengths and weaknesses and cultivating attributes that work well in a kindred or organization is difficult. In many ways smaller kindreds have it easier than larger organizations because of the fact that we will ‘get’ to meet them or at least have a chance to get to know them because we have ‘interacted’ with them. I believe if you have a larger organization this is next to impossible!
Although there are methods that help eliminate some of the more ‘obvious’ threats such as criminal record checks which can eliminate anyone who might have a violent criminal history and or be a known paedophile. The concept that an online questionnaire can be the” be all and end all” of how one decides may not be the best judgement of a person. People tend to look great on paper but this does not always mean they are a great person. Some judgements can only be made after seeing and knowing a person for some time. However in this day and age where social interaction is mostly done online (especially when most people may never meet the organization or kindred they are joining) it is next to impossible to get to know anyone ‘well’.
Therefore we have to rely on modern invention to monitor behaviours, to ‘see’ how people are acting online. Not that this is the sole judge but it does help form an opinion of a person in at least some measurable way. Although I would have to say this method may end up causing issues where there were none. We cannot see ‘tone’ in forum and email posts!! You infer what is being emulated in text with your own emotions.
So, statements should be clarified. In fact, I would go further and say that members of organizations SHOULD keep in contact via phone, Skype or in person to verify what they meant by posts. This would help resolve situations quickly and effectively.
Yes I am saying that we need to watch our members, we need to observe conduct. Facebook friend them, Twitter follow them, find out who their friends are and get on every network they are on!! Observe how they act, post and behave online!! This conduct can and usually is indicative of their personality. I am sure that this sounds like some creepy stalker/spy system but you are not doing this to be devious or to use this information for personal gain. The use of this information should be strictly monitored as well. This is about monitoring for the benefit of all and putting the whole group/organization/kindred in the same pool! There should never be anyone that is too good to be monitored or anyone that is kept from this. Regardless of position, rank or years in, monitoring serves to benefit the whole and this should be something regularly maintained. We have all these social tools at our disposal and I say use them!! Watch how people act online, watch their behaviour and make it clear that what you say online can and will be used to determine membership!!
What I mean here is that kindreds/organizations/groups etc. should make a point that what you say on any medium in public reflects on the whole and therefore monitoring accounts is no different than moderating posts, it is important to make sure that members behave within codes of conduct set by the organization.
Accountability Accountability is something you hear a lot about. It is usually seen as something we all want from our government and our corporations but why not also expect it from other organizations and kindreds. All heathens should be accountable for their actions!
However, I will preface this by saying that this is accountability for their ‘behaviour’ not for their opinions. Opinions are just opinion, but if you are going to post publically then make sure you use words like ‘in my opinion’ or ‘but this is just an opinion’ indicating that you are not speaking for everyone. Opinion is just that! They may not be the truth. Perception is everything and how you perceive something is not always ‘true’.
Every person from the ‘leader’ to member 698 should be accountable!! In our kindred they are!! Regardless of how high up they are…they are all accountable. If you are not respected then you cannot lead and therefore I too am subject to responsibility for my actions. You have to take accountability and own up to your mistakes and take action when needed!!
Over the years I have done things sometimes with the best intentions but often not with the best foresight, as I believe most of us ‘humans’ have done. But, there is one thing about me that has never failed and that is my commitment to making myself better, improving relationships with my kindred and making sure that in future these things are done better, with support and with the council of those I trust.
We always consider the view of others. I recall even a little less than a year ago dropping the word ‘devotional’ because a fellow heathen pointed out that this word was being ‘contended’ in other areas and that I should be aware of what was going on in the world and ‘adjust’ myself accordingly…well although I was extremely offended by the conversation, I had to think what our overall ‘message’ and appearance to the world would be. So, after taking it to our members we decided to drop the word.
Here we don’t just listen to ‘official paying members’ but also take into account what others think. We poll the community, listen to what people out there want, think and discuss before we change or accept certain policies. And this should be how heathenry is in general I cannot stand the fact that all we see is the discussions, gossip and whatever else is posted without ever knowing the official story, the decision or what in the world instigated the decision especially when the community is posting asking for peoples’ thoughts. Why ask if it does not matter? Why ask and then say well that’s nice but are you an official member? Or the only way to fix it is to join the organization. I feel the ‘fixing things from within’ method does not always work. I don’t believe that if I joined an organization that I felt already at odds with that this would make changes any easier. Why would they listen to new members any more than the general public?
It seems that you are limited to what you can change based on your ‘income’. What if someone cannot afford membership? Does this make their voice any less important? The ‘class’ system has never proven to be a working one and since in heathenry especially there is precedence for any class/person to be heard then why not in modern heathenry? The ‘Thing’ was a place where anyone could be heard and effect change. I don’t feel that I should have to pay an organization in order to effect change. Our kindred does collect fees but paying is not what gives you rights, you are entitled to rights based on the fact that you are a human being and deserve to be heard! Does this mean we will automatically change things? No it does not. It means that we must listen and if an idea has merit why not discuss it? Change and evolution are not bad things, they mean progress is happening and they help prevent stagnation and rot.
I don’t believe in change from within without the chance for change from outside…I believe that you need both. You need the community to support these changes and then also need people on the inside willing to listen to the community who want change. Think of how anything in the world is changed. It is not changed by people who are elected or paid to run corporations but it is the people who voice the need for these changes. I believe that in order for heathenry to expand, evolve and grow we need to work on a number of factors.
- Stop trying to make national organizations that rely on funding, politics or agendas and instead try to create networks of groups who can work together to change how heathenry is seen in the world. I believe that we need to all work together and not focus on our differences! Yes I believe in individuality but I also think that we could all work together and ‘drop’ the politics. For example. The AFA is trying to get hammers on graves for the military. Okay, awesome! I am not for the AFA but I am for this. So I signed the petition. I believe that I should not have to feel obligated to accept the politics of an organization in order to affect change. Just because I support one initiative does not mean I support them all. I think that the rest of heathenry could do the same. If you see a cause that you could support, DO IT!! Gods know there are few enough heathens in the world and we need every signature we can get. We need to be banding together like the tribes of old. When tribes found mutual causes they did not allow politics to interfere; why can’t we do the same?
- Stop the anti-giant propaganda! It’s annoying!! Frankly, it is a conversation that has been beaten to death. No one is going to win this…everyone just needs to accept the fact that people have a right to worship how they see fit. If you don’t want people to worship some god then don’t stand next to them…but don’t continue excluding them from events or try to put ‘rules’ on them…it’s just going to cause more ways in which people can take it too far!! Instead include them…make areas where this is totally fine, accept that there will be rituals during festivals for gods who not everyone wants…but the fact is free speech and free religion are more important than making everyone ‘accept’ things…people will never accept but they don’t have to participate either…if festivals want rules then why bother inviting the ‘whole’ community when it is very apparent that the community is so varied? Instead say it’s fine to worship who you want…but to everyone who’s coming do it peacefully and if you don’t like it find a ritual that you do like…how hard is that!
- IF you are going to say you are open to listening and dealing with community complaints than put your money where your mouth is and actually do something instead of just telling people that in order to change they need to join, effect change by investigating the complaint, see if there is merit to it, and for gods’ sakes answer the original comment appropriately instead of leaving them wondering if you care.
- NEVER allow the community to do your PR! I don’t care what size of an organization you have; find a way to make it work so that posting is monitored and make it clear that what you say in public should be governed with a certain amount of care!! Make strict rules with regard to posting about news from your group/organization. Make sure your members know how to conduct themselves online and make sure that no one is posting about your group/org without your permission! It makes you look stupid! Make sure that news, events, whatever is posted by actual staff members! There really needs to be an effort made by all organizations to show more awareness on social media sites. There should be official staff on Facebook, Twitter etc. who post official news and make people aware that gossip is not necessarily the truth, otherwise who knows what outcome there will be..
- GIVE credit where credit is due!! You know what surprises me the most about large organizations is how quick they are to take credit for an idea!! Make sure you know the person who offered up this idea and make sure you give them credit…why? Because if you don’t you will be viewed negatively. Don’t take something that is not yours to take; this is true even when it comes to crediting those who helped make a difference, or affected change, as these people deserve some respectful awareness and gratitude for this.
- Don’t ASSUME anything. Just because something is passed around to everyone on Facebook, Twitter etc. does not make it true or accurate!! DO research yourself, contact others; contact the parties involved or mentioned. Don’t assume that something is true unless you yourself can prove it to be so. Allow opinions to be spoken but make sure that leaders and community organizers also post the ‘official’ stance of a group. Ensure that you have leaders who reflect what your organization is ‘about’ and what its ‘official statements’ are. Having too many voices allows for too much confusion and unclear messages being delivered.
- CLARIFY what you mean. I hate ambiguous statements Post exactly what you mean…spell it out. Don’t use confusing jargon to further obscure an issue. Explain exactly what you mean.
“Peace and trust are exchanged
When one can tell
Another his whole mind.
Anything is better
Than to be faithless: He is not another’s friend
Who says only what the friend wants to hear.” Hávamál 124
photo from: http://yipcanjo.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/poison_apple1.jpg
Article re -printed with the author's permission.
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's, love and Thor's protection !