UUA President Rev. Peter Morales and a contingent of Unitarian Universalists participated in a Basta Dobbs! rally and press conference yesterday.
The Basta Dobbs (Enough Dobbs) Campaign is calling on CNN to take Dobbs off the air. The campaign states “Lou Dobbs uses his platform on CNN to spread myths and misinformation about Latinos and immigrants, even as his network is wooing Latino viewers. It’s time we said enough (that’s “basta” in Spanish).”
As we walked up to the Massachusetts State House where the event was held, carrying a large bright Standing the Side of Love with Immigrant Families banners we were met with cheers from the crowd of mostly Latino immigrants from dozens of immigrant rights and service organizations.
President Morales was the first speaker and as the emcee introduced him and came to the part about Morales’ role as a primary spokesperson for Standing on the Side of Love, he pointed to the banner and said “This is what we need! We need to stand on the side of love. Latinos need to stand up for self love. And we need people to stand in love with us!” After Rev. Morales raised the theme of confronting hate and hate crimes with love, speaker after speaker took it up.
I was quite impressed to see how the Standing on the Side of Love message transformed an event that was basically framed as an advocacy campaign to get CNN to “Dump Dobbs” and became a spirit-filled community-building event as well. Several Latina women came up to me (I was wearing my Standing on the Side of Love t-shirt) and expressed gratefulness for our message and wanted to know how to get involved. One woman from a Latino service agency said, “I don’t want to confront hate with hate. This is just the movement we need.”
As our UU contingent assembled with our Standing on the Side of Love banner we also had signs we had printed out from the Baste Dobbs! Campaign. We did not want to take over the event but to connect Standing on the Side of Love with it. I learned a lot about how welcome this message is and how can bring Standing on the Side of Love into our work to support immigrants, to support gay folks, to support people of color and all who are experiencing violence, exclusion and oppression in our country right now.More >
I recently attended a wedding at which the reading was from the oft-quoted 1st letter of Paul to Corinthians, chapter 13:4-7:
Love is patient; love is kind;
love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about the present-day cultural implications of lazy interpretations of Paul’s first-century letter to an early Christian community.
Our society often turns to this text as proof that love is wimpy. Love is quiet, calm, easy going. It doesn’t talk out of turn, but endures every insult that comes its way. It is long-suffering and naive.
Many women, and some men, have heard portions of this text used as justification for domestic violence, urged that, as exemplars of Christian love, they should not be arrogant or irritable, but endure abuse and dehumanization.
Oppressed and excluded peoples and their allies, are told to be patient, not to insist on their way, but to wait for metered justice to be dolled out.
Even those who do not explicitly look to New Testament texts for inspiration can fall back on these cultural assumptions about love that permeate our society. When we idealize the human capacity to love in this absolutely selfless way, we run the risk of thinking of ourselves as morally superior, capable of loving our neighbor better than anyone else could. Or we see ourselves as martyrs, outpouring sacrificial love without acknowledging or safeguarding our own interests. The third option is simply to conclude that this kind of love is sentimental and irrelevant to human reality, and thus easily dismissed.
We have forgotten that the love Paul is espousing here (the Greek agape) is a fierce, strong, and powerful love. Moreover, it is something we can only strive to emulate, not to master. This love is, Rev. Dr. Serene Jones writes at www.standingonthesideoflove.org, “about justice, not sentimentality.”
This love is hope-filled, but not complacent. “For many years we have shown an amazing patience,” a 26-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1955 to a gathering of the newly-formed Montgomery Improvement Association as they planned a bus boycott. “But we come here tonight,” he continued, “to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.”
The hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on National Mall on October 11and the many more who joined them in spirit stood in the spirit of a love that refuses to endure exclusion or violence any longer. We stand with a love that is impatient with hatred and proclaims the power of love in the face of fear. And here is where the beauty of Paul’s words come through, this love “does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth.” This is a love that stands up and says no to hate. This love is true.More >
Youth from First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia interview members of the congregation about their beliefs.
Listen to Behind the Burqah: Preserving the Inherant Worth and Dignity of Every Muslim Woman, a radio blog here.More >
Rev. Jim VanderWeele, Unitarian Universalist Community Church of New Orleans.
We did not know what to expect when President Obama returned to Katrina’s village. Yesterday we thought there would be no rally. “Security will be tight. Only those with tickets or UNO students will be allowed on campus.” But that changed. Our attitudes changed. A dozen from our Greater New Orleans Unitarian Universalist cluster joined 600 new friends, folks who also are standing on this side of love.
This rally drew us because the message of fear has been carried too far. We feel a time for love, another perfect time for people to consider the fates of each other.
I showed a photo from the StandingontheSideofLove site to a young man with an LGBT pin; told him it was taken last week in DC. (The capital in the background helped.) A smile spread across his face. He thanked me for all that Unitarian Universalists have done to support his cause, to work for human rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transgendered—though he is a health care supporter on this day.
Our message was simple.
The hurricanes were overwhelming. The trials have not ended.
The President has spoken of hope. We agree. We support him.
This “hope” should include our standing on the side of “love for the victims, for all of them.”
Here in New Orleans, there is no love as strong as the pleasure we feel when our neighbors move back to their homes. Could such a love as “neighbors moving home” conceivably replace the bureaucratic love for gimmickry and mistreatment experienced much to frequently?
Although much of our city has recovered, many face difficulties in making appointments with federal officials. One hundred fifty thousand have been unable to return to New Orleans. (More have left the Gulf Coast). People who lost their homes are caught jumping through one hoop and then another, often leading to lost paperwork or denials. Many who weathered this battle decided to “give up,” saying “FEMA and the Road Home have failed me.”
New Orleans lives with 11,000 who are homeless. An equal number are living with cousins or distant relatives.
Might a message of hope intersect with a love for Americans, a love for every American? If this could be done in New Orleans, that a revivified attitude, one of hope-married-to-love, could be seen here, will it not also be seen in other places in this land? By other people, too?
And then I heard our President speak, and I heard him say, “Do you thin
k that when I accepted this job I thought it would be easy? I remember saying, ‘A struggle is difficult. A hard struggle is more difficult! I never said it would be easy, and there is still a long way to go. But I will not quit. I will never give up. I am just getting started. I’m just getting started.”
And I said, “Merci beaucoup. Merci beaucoup. Laissez le bon temps roullez!”
Rev. Meg Riley is the director of Advocacy and Witness at the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Always, at marches, one of my favorite things to do is to watch the signs and banners go by.
Of course, this week at the National March for GLBT Equality, my favorite sign was yellow-orange, featuring a black heart with white letters… Towering 15 feet above the crowd, it proclaimed, “STANDING ON THE SIDE OF LOVE.”
Placards and t-shirts were also everywhere throughout the crowd, so proclaiming. You couldn’t miss them. I’ve seen them in b-roll footage everywhere about the march. I’ve gotten photos from friends across the country. You could see one on The Daily Show’s coverage of the march!
No one looks especially good in that color orange, but it does stand out. When I came into the office Tuesday morning, I was delighted to see a celebratory toast taking place by the Legislative Aides, featuring Tang. Tang tastes pretty bad, but it is exactly the same color as the t-shirts!
But, there were other good signs besides ours at the march. Some emblems and signs were the usuals: Rainbow flags. “Ask. Tell.”
My niece saw an original sign which someone had brought to a Mattachine Society in 1965, when 50 brave souls gathered in front of the White House. Because she is a lawyer, she was especially impressed by its Constitutional orientation. It read: Homosexuals ask for the right to the pursuit of happiness.
But there were other great slogans, too. I always love the ones that people themselves take the time to make. Here are some of my favorites:
One was the subject line for Adam’s most recent SSL email, “Hetero is not Bettero!”
One, held by a guy, read, “If God hates us, why are we so good looking?”
Another, also held by a guy, read, “Would you rather I married your daughter?”
Or, “Jesus had two dads, and he turned out OK.” (To which my smart aleck 13 year old said, “Turned out OK? He got in so much trouble with the law he was executed while still a young man!”)
One young woman had a poster so full of text that it looked like a school report. When I asked her to hold it still so I could decipher it, I read the autobiographical, “I am exploring my sexuality with your daughter! Thank you!”
Adam, being hipper than I, especially loved a sign that read, “I wanna put a ring on it.” The humor of this will be lost on you if you, like me, are not super familiar with Beyoncé’s music. (With incredulity, Adam showed me a video on YouTube of her singing this which had garnered, even without my familiarity, some 72 million hits.)
And on it went. A day to laugh, to be lighthearted and joyful, to soak up each other’s company and prepare for the long winter ahead.