By Dru Ann Welch with Onyx Moon PBNRadio.us
We had the honor of getting to know Beth Owens at CalderaFest. What makes her unique is she is openly Pagan and running for State House Representative as a Democrat in District 106 in of all places Kansas!
Beth was interviewed by PBN Radio Host Onyx Moon and I got to sit in and listen. Much of this material comes from that interview. However, I contacted Beth afterwards and got some more details from her on some issues.
Beth ran in the 2006 race in Kansas on the Libertarian party ticket, mostly to keep the party on the ticket. Even though it was a paper campaign, she was openly Pagan, and didn’t do any real campaigning, she received 22% of the vote which was pretty darn good!
As for her motivation for running now, she is considered the Cannabis Candidate. Beth’s 27-year-old daughter is an epileptic and has been unresponsive to all of the many drug combinations and surgeries that have been tried in an effort to control her seizure activity. After hearing the benefits of medical cannabis, Beth became involved with the group Bleeding Kansas. She became involved in rallies, lobbying, education and raising public awareness to the benefits of this wonderful plant.
Beth soon found that lobbying for medical cannabis in Topeka was quite the challenge. There were a lot of doors shut when she attempted open discussions on legalization. Her point to Legislators was that
“thousands of Kansans want-and could benefit-from the plant, and many are choosing to leave their homes, their families, jobs, churches, LIVES to go to other states where cannabis is legal in order to have that option in the course of their healing. Beth’s question became,
“How can these Legislators just say to us, “Then go move?” How heartless is that?”
Another of her passions is the battle for the soul of our state, our nation. In her own words:
“We often hear of our political process being owned and driven by corporate interests. We speak of such things as the Big They; I have a certain understanding of whom and what this “they” may be, and I am passionately against the stronghold that has been manipulating and controlling our state and country. Kansas is heavily dominated by Republican leaders; I am NOT against Republicans but I AM against any Legislator that is a part of Koch Bros. fueled machines such as ALEC.
This acronym stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council, is heavily funded by conservative billionaires the Koch brothers, and is pretty much a “think tank” and bill mill for conservative legislators. They provide “model legislation”, which speaks to me of an impending dystopia and intolerance toward progression, cooperation, and appreciation for views that are different from those espoused by ALEC.
I am hoping that you will take the time to do a little research on this; ALEC has a sure foothold in Kansan policy making and I am against conservative billionaire interests shaping our state and polarizing, silencing anything that would challenge them. There IS a battle for the soul of our nation. On one hand we have these corporate interests, and on the other we have the PEOPLE who need to rise up, speak up, meet one another, encourage one another, and challenge these leaders who think nothing of destroying people’s lives and the Earth in the process of their gaining control!
RISE UP! CARE! This is the Earth we are talking about; this is the future for our children! It is said that the only way evil can flourish is in good people doing nothing! How will we explain this to future generations, what are we leaving them, authoritarian chains and a ruined Earth? We are at this precipice of great change, we need to consider our impact and care, passionately care, about the future! THE TIME IS NOW! We CANNOT lose this moment!”
In her interview with Onyx Moon, Beth brought home the point in this way:
“It is imperative. It is now. This is critical. People say that in a lot of elections but this is really it. We are in the precipice of change. We are on the edge. What we need is balance. We need balance. We can’t make all of the tea party conservative Koch brother ALEC people go away but we need to be an equal presence there to challenge them and raise consciousness. The battle is real. Anyone can look it up and see and you will have nightmares, I promise.”
I feel I know a lot more about what is going on politically after listening to Beth. I also agree that we are in a battle for the soul of our nation. But there was more I wanted to know about her as a Pagan and how or if her beliefs had affected her campaign.
I had one more question for Beth:
It is rare to find a Pagan who is so willing to be out there just in everyday life but you have chosen a very public presence. Have you had any challenges or obstacle because of being Pagan?
Her answer struck a certain note with me and I think many of you will relate as well:
“ONLY ten years ago when I was going through my divorce. Nasty people saying nasty things. It is something that no one has ever openly come out and asked me of; and how I WISH they would! I LOVE intelligent discourse, but for now my 19-year-old daughter says that people think that I am “the sweetest person on Earth”, but also eccentric; I’ll take that! It really is my hope that my faith will be challenged…I want to give a testimony!
People really need to see that the majority of Pagans are well read, well informed individuals who have more or less studied themselves out of religious groups that stunted their spiritual growth; and something very intimate that we share with the LGBT community: we have had to pay a price for our faith, our stand, our intellectual honesty. Some of us are estranged from former friends, family, activities and communities”
Finally, Beth wanted to share a poem that wraps up what it is to be in a minority faith group:
Edwin Markham—-“He drew a circle that shut me out- Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle and took him In !
In her own words,
“We Pagan folk like them circles!”
I truly admire this wonderful woman. Her story has had a great impact on me. I hope that others will take the ball that she has thrown out there and pick it up. Find the cause you believe in and go out and support it with everything you have got.