To hear some fellow Druids say that they don’t do politics and just want to be at one with Nature fills me with both shame and fear. For not only is politics is simply a non-religious expression of values, to say one isn’t interested in politics suggests that one has values that are in conflict with others around them. It also suggests a poor understanding of Nature and shows that they feel separate from her.
Let me be specific. When I hear someone say ‘all lives matter’, what they are saying is either a statement that sounds nice but is repeated out of ignorance or they are promoting racism. All lives do not matter. Of course they should but until, for example, Black Lives Matter, all lives simply do not matter. It’s like saying that all animals matter in response to someone campaigning to save the rhinos – it deliberately detracts from a message designed to focus attention on the most disadvantaged and most threatened.
We must not forget that human people are part of Nature. All human people need to feel equal but until we resolve the systemic, conscious and unconscious racism in our society, all human people can’t have equity. As Druids we should not be turning a blind eye to beech trees being felled while chaining ourselves to oaks who are not at risk.
Let’s just consider the Druid Prayer:
Grant, O Great Spirit, Thy protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences, the love of Great Spirit.
Justice is at the centre just before the love of all existences. Can we love all while there is no justice? Can we have justice without understanding, knowledge and strength?
And what of the Druid ‘grades’ of Bard, Ovate and Druid? I see the Druid grade as one that builds on the expression of Bards and knowledge of Ovates to focus on leadership, on justice and on love.
So I ask, are Druid orders doing enough to oppose racism and if not, what else should they (we) be doing? How do we listen to, understand and amplify the voices of those without white male privilege?
How do we do “confrontation and reconciliation” as Philip Carr-Gomm suggested and if so how / where is this done?