While Paganism is a giant umbrella, covering many different belief systems (including Wicca, Shamanism, and others), there are a few things that Pagans have in common, however diverse or eclectic their paths. One of my favorites is the notion that we are all connected. We are not separate beings. We are not separate from Earth or the stars or the sun. We are made of the same energy and matter as the animals, plants, trees, and earth. The neighbor you hate? She's you. The stray cat who runs from your back step because you've thrown things at it? He's you. Even the obnoxious college student blowing second-hand smoke in your face (*insert aggrieved, imperfect Pagan sigh here); he is you.
You are never trying to save the rainforest; you are trying to save yourself. You're disgusted with the gay pride parade, or the Ku Klux Klan, or the Democrats, or the Republicans, or the Libertarians, or the Mormons, or the Scientologists; you are them. They are you. And you are all earth, air, fire, and water. You are all made of stardust. We are all made of stardust. I am made of stardust. When you hurt someone deliberately, you are hurting yourself. When your disgust or anger for someone is left unchecked by compassion or an attempt to understand the life of another human, you are making a negative impact on yourself. When you abuse animals, you are abusing yourself.
Let's look at this in a happier way: when you love yourself, you are loving everything and everyone. When you love your family, you are loving the world. When you avoid a fight be responding to antagonism with love instead of frustration or anger, you have just washed your surroundings with peace and love. You have made an imprint of caring on that person, on yourself, on the nature around you. When you help the homeless man, or listen to a stranger weep, or forgive the sociopath who has hurt you, you are creating a positive impact that has the ripple effect because you are all of them. Doing your small part to help heal the environment, or the economy, or raise a family of people whose characters are lovingly shaped to love doing good, are all acts of love for yourself. And everyone. Because you are everyone.
(this is also now posted on my new blog: Pagan in the Desert)