My personal belief is that government and religion should be kept well away from each other, for the good of both. All those issues about power corrupting, for a start, and on the government side, it should be about making pragmatic decisions that will be best for as many people as possible, rather than being led by the morals and priorities of any single faith group. But that said, we are all people and what we believe inevitably does colour everything else we think. At a personal level, politics and religion are not so easily separated.
We know that historical druids were political. I get the impression that’s why Rome stamped on them so thoroughly. Where does modern druidry fit with modern politics though? Should we be joining parties and making like the druids of old, or are we better off keeping out of all that? I don’t think there’s a one answer fits all here (do I ever?) but at the same time, I can’t see how any of us can take forward any spiritually inspired principles without to some degree engaging with the political system.
Many of the big issues for druids are too big to be tackled through national politics even. Justice, peace and environmental protection have to be tackled at a global level. These don’t seem to be major priorities for our governments. But druids are international folk. Our orders, social groupings and networks cross borders all the time. And we’re a talkative bunch. My sense of things political in a number of other countries come entirely from what other pagans and especially druids, tell me. And I suspect that some folks perceive English politics primarily through the blog posts of Damh the Bard, Cat Treadwell and others.
At the moment, that might not seem all that important in the scheme of things. Druidry is a growing religious movement, and it is an international one in which political national borders mean very little. We utilise the internet a lot. Through podcasts we hear each other’s voices right across the world. The scope to share information, is considerable. As we grow, the political potential of Druidry will increase. No doubt that will offer us more challenges than solutions.
Druidry is inherently political. It prioritises things that governments do not prioritise. Quality over quantity. Environment over profit. Inspiration over conformity. Honour over expedience. So much of what happens in politics is based on short term thinking and a desire for immediate gain. Druidry does not encourage a buy now, pay later mentality. It is co-operative rather than competitive, favours compassionate ways of treating the disadvantaged, and does not dive enthusiastically into every available opportunity for war. Every time one of us gets up and mentions any of these values and priorities, we are acting politically. We are challenging the ‘norms’ and resisting the current tides.
The druids of old were not the chieftains and rulers. They offered advice. Generally speaking, telling people what to do is a very good way of getting them to ignore and resent you. We can however ask awkward questions, enquire ‘what if’ and keep talking about those other ways of being political, that are not about gross national productivity, economic growth, fantasy finances and yet another scapegoat to bomb as a distraction from issues closer to home.