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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why None of Us are Special Snowflakes

This blog should probably have a blogging while ill warning label. So you've been warned.

      There's an expression in modern pagan communities: special snowflake. It's used for people who are very vocal about having a strong connection to the Gods, or who claim unusual knowledge, power, or authority or otherwise seem to be trying really hard to get attention. It's based, of course, on the idea that all snowflakes are unique while simultaneously being uniform but the special snowflake believes they deserve extra attention and praise for being themselves. In paganism there's a wide array of ways that people fall into special snowflake categories, but the one that I probably see the most often, and hence that annoys me the most, are the ones who feel that they have been called to some unique service that deserves automatic, unquestioning respect.
   You know what though? Many of us, myself included, are called to serve; service doesn't make you special, it makes you useful. The fact that people don't like to acknowledge is that we are all extremely temporary to the Gods and spirits. Our mortal lives are moments in their far broader reality. Do we have value to them? I 'm certain we do, even on an individual level, but that value is not eclipsed by their wider need to accomplish certain things and keep an eye always to greater goals. I won't ever pretend to understand the wheels within wheels of Odin's plans - I know I have a value to him and serve a purpose, but I am also keenly aware that when I am gone someone else will take my place. We are none of us special in the grand scheme of things because we are all ultimately utilitarian. We serve our purpose, either well or badly, and when we fall to time's inevitable limits the next one will come along to serve the next step. No matter how knowledgeable, how powerful, how skilled, or how well a person serves the Gods their time is limited and the importance of their power, knowledge, skill, and service in their life is not measured by how special they think they are, but by how they effect the lives of other people and how well they serve their purpose. And that, ultimately, is only truly measured and judged with time.
   Special snowflake syndrome annoys me because it distracts from the important issues. The things that matter, that we should be discussing as a community, don't revolve around cult's of personality and one individual's (or many different individuals') need for special attention. As a community we waste far too much time and energy encouraging or fighting special snowflake syndrome when we should just be ignoring it. There is so much work to be done and we need to focus on doing it, not trying to prove how much more important we are to deity X or spirit Y, or conversely that some other person isn't. If a person is actually a special friend in that way to a God or spirit then it is the God or spirit that will make it plain, not the person - that's how its always worked in mythology and folklore and I don't see any reason why the internet would change anything. In fact if one were cynical, which I clearly am today, one might point out the many prohibitions in some cultures, like the Irish, about talking or bragging about special consideration you receive from the daoine sidhe, for example, lest you lose that friendship...
   None of us are special snowflakes, and we need to stop encouraging people to try to be.

4 comments:

  1. The curious irony (I get this one too) that in trying to flag up why a thing does not work we end up being people putting energy into stuff that does not work just by talking about it. But how else to get rid of it? Good post. (see my superior rotational symmetry....:-) )

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    1. Indeed. Its frustrating that the best way to stop the behavior is to ignore it, but the only way to get people to do that, ultimately, is to talk about why it should be ignored

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  2. Love the post! Hope you are feeling better. More action and less talk, especially the look at me please crap, is definitely needed. Super busy at pointing at yourself makes me walk away and not pay attention.

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