On Friday I went to a seminar on preventing child abuse, which was pretty much your standard stuff, at least to me, since I’ve been in the field for a while. I’ve even reported people, sadly enough, for child abuse. But one thing they said stuck out: “Teach your child that it is OK to say NO to anyone at any time, even an adult.”
I’m 51 and they didn’t teach that to me when I was a kid. I think what they taught back then was largely obedience to authority, but it wasn’t really defined what authority was. Everyone just sort of knew. And this is how a culture of secrecy and shame got started; an emphasis on obedience meant to encourage dependence on, and participation in, capitalist corporatism and the military-industrial complex. The hippies had something real to revolt against.
NO is a valuable word. I hear too many people talking about how “Yes” is wonderful. “Yes” is not always wonderful. You don’t need to say “yes” to everything or every experience. Sometimes you need to say NO, and say it very, very loudly, and sometimes you need to back it up with your fists and your feet and whatever else you have at hand.
Contrary to what some people believe, there are people in this world who mean you no good. People who mean to take advantage of you, to rape you literally or figuratively, to steal from you and lie to you and manipulate you to their advantage. People who care about you not at all, in any way, and who regard your existence as an obstacle to be overcome and pushed aside so they can get exactly what they want, and all of it.
In my experience, you cannot love these people into enlightenment. You cannot passively go up to them and sit in front of them and say “Let me understand you.” They don’t care. To be more precise, they truly do not give a damn about you or what you think.
NO is a word you use for these people, because NO is a word of opposition and NO is a word of strength. NO means NO. No, you cannot do that to me. No, you cannot rape me. No, I will not let you bully me. No, I will not let you beat me up. No, I will not let you call me a “faggot” or say that my religion is “made up.” No, you cannot call black people n*ggers in my presence. No, what you have said is unacceptable and wrong.
NO is a powerful word of magick. With NO you draw boundaries to keep things out, things that have no business in the circle. There is a reason why the Star Ruby, and some other ceremonies, begin with a person shouting, APO PANTOS, KAKODAIMONOS! (Away, every evil spirit!)
NO is a powerful word. It signifies ENOUGH. It draws a line to exclude, and exclusion is a powerful magick as well. Because there are some people who cannot be compromised with, some beings who should not be allowed to control you.
In Paganism there is such a passivity sometimes, such a longing for “unity” at all costs, that it frightens me. I don’t WANT to be allied with some people. I find what some folks do to be destructive, both to themselves and to everyone around them, and they need to be told NO.
I believe in NO. I think NO is a Word of Power, and I think modern Pagans need to use that word far more often than they do. We need to define boundaries and set rules. Without rules and organization, there is no discipline and no order, and without some sort of order, there can be no progress. Worse, no one can survive. The tribe cannot consist of all tribespeople and no leaders. That is ridiculous. Order is not a dirty word. Without order, people just run around in circles and gibber. I don’t believe in benevolent anarchy because I have seen firsthand that it does not exist. When there is no order, the man with the biggest gun rules everyone else, and what he says goes. That happened during Katrina.
NO is a word that should be said to leaders too, don’t get me wrong. NO should be said to the mob. NO should be said to anyone and everyone who tries to violate your Will.
NO is a holy word of defiance. NO, I will not worship your god. NO, I will not vote for your candidate. NO, I will not be silent in the face of abuse. NO, I will not stand for you violating my boundaries. NO, NO, NO. We need to sanctify this word, because without the negative, there can be no positive.