The Difference Between Staten Island and Cohoes, NY

If you live in New York you can probably start ticking off the differences quite easily.  Before you get to into it, this blog isn’t about the differences between the towns, but between the instances of harassment based on religious belief between my May 2007 blog about Patricia Gardner who lives in Cohoes, NY and this current blog about a family in Annadale, NY.
 
Those of you who missed the “For My Neighbor” blog about Patricia Gardner, take a moment and refresh yourself.  Now, to get caught up to speed on the family in Annadale, NY, click here.  They’re both quick reads.  I’ll wait for you.
 
All caught up?  Good.
 
I’m going to take a stance that may make me unpopular with some of my Wiccan friends, but Annadale is about being bad neighbors, and perhaps even the worse crime of inciting “persecution”.  There, I said it.  Sure, perhaps some of the people are weirded out by their openly Wiccan neighbors, but if the Wiccans were in fact putting fliers on people’s cars, etc. saying they were putting spells on people and sending threatening letters…well, what is a neighbor to think?  Suddenly the neighbors are offended, and it’s all because they’re dealing with Wiccans?  How about because behavior like that is unacceptable in any community.
 
Patricia Gardner’s story was different.  First, the vandalism was obviously motivated by religious beliefs.  Biblical quotes tend to tip you off.  Also, having personally visited Gardner’s home, on a night when her Coven was meeting, I can say that they were a respectful bunch.  To the point where they asked if I could park my car somewhere else, as to not take up one of her neighbor’s favorite parking spots.  It’s certainly a far cry from the alleged harassing behavior of the Wiccans in Annadale.
 
Of course, maybe I’m wrong.  Perhaps the Annadale Wiccans are being persecuted because of their faith, but speaking from experience of living on top of annoying neighbors, I suspect they are being persecuted, but because of their behavior not their faith.  Honestly, I don’t care what my neighbors do behind closed doors…as long as I don’t have to hear about it.
 
Some of the best Wiccans I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with all realize that to be Wiccan means you have something to prove.  Now many Wiccans, Pagans, etc. that I have dealt with feel they have something to prove.  And in doing so, they push their faith in the faces of friends, family, co-workers, etc. and demand acceptance of their faith.  Now the Wiccans that inspire me, Lady Passion of Coven Oldenwilde for instance, know that what they have to prove isn’t that they’re different, but that they’re the same.  That although their faith is a large part of who they are, it isn’t all they are.  The path to acceptance is to set a good example within the community they live in.  Many Covens, and solitaries, are active within community charities.  They keep tidy homes.  Take an active role in their child’s school.  They are model citizens, respected parents, and they are Wiccan.