The message below went out on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.
Combating bullying is not simple, and has no easy fix. Bullying-related suicides, especially of LGBT-identified young people, have been prominent in the news cycles over the past couple of years.
I’m sure you know some of the oft-repeated statistics:
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds
- LGBT youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.
- Nine out of 10 LGBT students report experiencing harassment at school
Of course, bullying affects far more than just LGBT-identified young people. There are now increasing reports of Latino/a youth and Muslim youth being targeted. And sadly, many of us may have experienced bullying for a whole host of reasons, both as youngsters and as adults.
Our society’s culture of bullying is a plague that has taken hold in our nation’s schools and finds its roots at the very seat of power—just look at some of the political campaign rhetoric.
Today, we address bullying together and say “no more.”
Help teachers combat bullying by supporting anti-bullying projects across the country that require funding. Click here to find projects on Donors Choose that need support.
DonorsChoose.org is an online charity connecting donors to classrooms in need. Public school teachers post classroom project requests on the site, and potential donors can browse projects and give any amount to the one or more that inspires you. There are several projects related to bullying. For example:
“Help Us Teach Kids Ways to Prevent Bullying,” Brownville School, Maine
Ms. Bowden’s students write and perform puppet shows on ways to prevent bullying. The kids really enjoy using puppets, but the student puppeteers have a hard time speaking loud enough for others to hear. Ms. Bowden is collecting donations to buy microphones so the students’ projects will have a more meaningful impact.
“Deep Down, We Have So Much in Common!” Stratton Meadows School, Colorado Springs
Mrs. P’s creative idea combines anti-bullying, team building, and science curricula to give her students opportunities to build community and talk about the things we all have in common (even down to the cellular level!). She needs your donations to help buy books on bullying, microscopes, and an array of slides that will show her students that deep down we are all the same.
Click here to find projects on Donors Choose related to combating bullying that need support.
And visit http://www.donorschoose.org/about to learn how the organizations ensure integrity in the donation process.
Sometimes, it’s the simple ‘we do’ that can have a big impact – such as helping one dedicated teacher, one classroom, one young person at a time.
We hope today’s action will bring you inspiration, and a sense of comfort that together, we can make things better for young people trying to make their way in the world with the happiness and self-esteem they deserve.
In partnership for a more loving world,
P.S. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. Consider familiarizing yourself with this organization and its projects: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/More >
The message below went out on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.
Every once in a while, a group of people does something so loving that it moves me to tears.
This past Sunday, at my beloved UU Fellowship of Raleigh (UUFR), some of us told our stories about how we are affected by discrimination against same-gender couples. We spoke of how things will get even worse if North Carolina’s anti-LGBT, anti-family, so-called “marriage” amendment passes on May 8th. We agreed to an ambitious call to action: our 500+ members will gather 5,000 pledge commitments to vote against the Amendment and do 50 hours of phone banks. Then, unanimously, all present members stood up in a congregational meeting to vote for our statement of conscience opposing the Amendment. We were, literally, all standing together on the side of love. And when the statement passed, there was a spontaneous outburst of clapping and celebratory shouts of joy. Like me, many of my LGBT friends and allies were moved to tears. This vote said to us that we matter, we have value, and we deserve equality; it said we are not alone in this fight and our fellow UU’s are standing with us.
Check out this video from UUFR and learn how you can help:
I hope UU’s from across the country will move me to tears again – by doing virtual phone banks to fight anti-gay amendments in both North Carolina and Minnesota.
Click here to sign up to phone bank.
Another time I was moved to tears was during the act of public witness at our June 2011 UUA General Assembly in Charlotte, NC, where thousands of UU’s in a sea of yellow Standing on the Side of Love t-shirts stood together in opposition to this same anti-LGBT, anti-family NC amendment. It was the power of love and the power of numbers combined that touched not only me, but the many members of what has now become the Coalition to Protect NC Families, which is working to defeat the Amendment. Jen Jones, their Communications Director, was so inspired by Standing on the Side of Love and similar justice movements that she is literally running across North Carolina with “RACE to the Ballot” to raise awareness about the harms of the Amendment. It is no coincidence that she is wearing RACE gear in the same color yellow to be in solidarity with us UU’s; she expects to stand with us UU’s again in the coming weeks and months at rallies before NC’s May 8th ballot referendum.
And I expect to be moved to tears by UU’s across the country when I find out how many people sign up to do what they can from their own states – virtual phone banks to North Carolina and Minnesota voters to urge them to vote against these discriminatory amendments.
While it’s an uphill battle to fight these amendments, with enough volunteers to reach the NC and MN voters who are willing to vote against these amendments, we can turn the tide of discrimination.
Please, move us to tears again with your willingness to stand with us on the side of love. Please volunteer to phone bank now.
UU Fellowship of Raleigh
The message below went out on Tuesday January 31, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.
Here in North Carolina, we’ve had much to draw upon as we journey through the Thirty Days of Love. We now enter the third week of the campaign – the “Story of Now.” The Standing on the Side of Love campaign explains “Story of Now” this way: “By telling a “story of now” you can communicate the urgent challenge we are called upon to face, the hope that we can face it, and choices we must take to act.”
In our state, there is little doubt about one of our primary, urgent challenges: this May, we face a ballot measure that would amend our constitution to ban marriage equality, civil unions and domestic partnerships. Unsurprisingly, Unitarian Universalists are at the forefront of working against this amendment, taking the lead in organizing the faith community, hosting phone banks in our congregations, raising money for the campaign, and planning public witnesses to express our opposition. The UUA and Standing on the Side of Love campaign have been a crucial help to us here in North Carolina as well as in Minnesota, providing grant funds for our efforts and strategic organizing and communications support.
On behalf of all of us in North Carolina and Minnesota working to defeat these amendments in our states, I’m asking for your help: Please sign up to phone bank voters in North Carolina and Minnesota and urge them to vote against these amendments.
These calls help inspire voter turnout. Your personal words move people’s hearts as well as their feet to the ballot. The groups working in both states to defeat the amendments can set people up from across the country to do “virtual phone banking.” You simply need access to a computer and a phone. When you sign up, someone will contact you about phone banking when it’s convenient for you in the coming weeks and months. Your words, even thousands of miles away, have power.
There are many words you could use to describe me: Unitarian Universalist, minister, friend, activist, woman, person of faith, and lesbian. But these are just words that point to who we are as a people. These are just words used in the story of who I am. The amendment approaching will use words against us: words that will hurt, words that put some outside the circle, unfair words, dangerous words, and unjust words. Words have been written that will change our constitution to discriminate.
It is not just this amendment defining marriage as the only legal union between a man and a woman. It is not just these words. It is every word, every day when you have to live in fear. It is every face that longs to at last have a dream of a world where you would not be judged by who you love but by how you love. It is not just these amendments. It is the startling truth of youth who are dying because of words that institutionalize prejudice. They are not just words. Words have power.
But you have words too. Words in a service, words in the public square, words on a pledge, words that move people to vote, words that protect, words that heal and words that change the world. So what am I asking you to do? Use your words.
Click here to sign up to phone bank. Help use your words to protect and to heal.
With so much momentum towards marriage equality in places like Maryland, Maine, Washington, and New Jersey, it’s clear that the pendulum is swinging towards justice for all. But in North Carolina and Minnesota, we still need help to make an important statement: in this country, the era of constitutional discrimination is over!
Rev. Robin Tanner
Minister, Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church
Charlotte, North Carolina
The message below went out on Monday, January 30, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.
As I’ve watched the presidential campaign season unfold around me these past few weeks, I can’t help but notice that the underlying themes of fear, of scarcity, and of “the other” permeate every discussion. Our political culture has become toxic on both sides. We have become obsessed with ensuring specific benefits for ourselves, our subset of society, and even our country at the expense of others instead of creating solutions that make our global community as a whole better, stronger, and more just.
Instead of allowing yourself to be seduced by this pervasive narrative of fear and scarcity, take a look at this video of Congressman Keith Ellison speaking about love and abundance: “Proclaim love, proclaim love not just as a fuzzy warm notion but an active principle, engaged in informing us about how we live with each other, with our planet, with this economy, with the way we do business.”
For today’s action, let’s counter our society’s oppressive, hateful rhetoric by making this video go viral. Let’s allow Rep. Ellison’s love-inspired words reverberate around the World Wide Web. And as we use this week to discuss our “story of now,” let us use his message of love and abundance to inform how we engage with our community.
“But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
In faith and love,
Standing on the Side of Love
The message below went out on Sunday, January 29, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.
In a moment of candor between a professor and myself several years ago, he said to me, “I love the Unitarians. You are a bright light in the world, but you do not understand evil.” I knew he was right. I had struggled with my own relativist notions of the concept… indeed I thought of it as a concept. I had rejected sin preferring the idea of original blessing, preferring the leap of faith made by stating that all beings have an inherent worth and dignity. My people, I thought, were a thoroughly modern people.
Until the 20th Century, both philosophy and theology were obsessed with the work of theodicy: a systematic understanding and justification of suffering and evil all the while defending God’s goodness. Great thinkers spent their lives trying to explain how evil could exist if God was omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful) and omnipresent (everywhere). The problem of theodicy, of understanding evil while believing that goodness and love is a greater power, is perhaps a struggle Unitarian Universalists would do well to pick up again. It is not enough to simply ask why do bad things happen to good people? We must ask what is the vision of the people who would seek justice and equality and redemption and forgiveness in our world? We must ask, if love is a greater power, a higher power, what is our relationship to that? Are we merely individuals at play in a larger system that makes good people create bad consequences wishing it were otherwise?
Today’s action for 30 Days of Love is to hold a theological reflection discussion to think about this moment in time as a community and how our faith impacts our response to this moment.
Schedule a time to gather during or after services, or a time on another day, and use our 30 Days of Love Theological Reflection Guide to help your discussion. Download the PDF here:
Two summers ago, I travelled to Phoenix, AZ to participate in a mass rally against the racial profiling of American citizens and the arrests and deportations of people who had crossed the border without permission. I purchased a clerical collar for the event because I wanted to be recognized as minister when I was arrested. After our action, illegal in the eyes of the system, I sat in the basement of the 4th St. Jail along with five or six Latino activists; all of us in zip tie handcuffs. My collar attracted the attention of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the man behind the raids being carried out with the passage of SB 1070. There is no shortage of people who call this man evil. Just as there is no shortage of people who call this man a hero. As he stood over me, he asked, “Why are you here?”
Unfortunately, I answered him in a most juvenile and disingenuous way. I looked up in defiance and said “Jesus sent me.” This wasn’t true and I regret saying it. Sure, I might be able to spin some story about how Jesus stood up for the disinherited and I was trying to follow that mandate. But the truth is, I knew that Sheriff Arpio is a devout Christian and I was trying to insult him. I got the desired effect. He screwed up his face and walked away. Instead of being honest about my desire to be in relationship with that higher power of goodness and love I made a joke, and not a very good one.
The truth is, I am scared of taking on the mandate of living in the world guided by the idea that there is a love and goodness that will care for me and help me care for others. It is much easier, much safer to sit behind my intellectual analyses of a cold, systematic world where the banality of evil rules, where the micro-offenses of human beings slowly destroy us, where the source of our creation, God if you will, is indifferent at best. This is a fear of intimacy: intimacy with fellow humans as well as intimacy with God.
But if we are to be a part of the vision that brings healing and health to our nation we must step into the holy and prayerful practice of exploring intimacy. There is no better place for this type of study and reflection than our congregations.
Please take a moment to download the 30 Days of Love Theological Reflection Guide and to discuss this with your congregation. Download the PDF document:
There is a lot of healing left to do in this country and in the world. There is a lot of injustice and we are called as a people to do what we can to counter it. We can fight for justice as individuals, but I would rather do it as a community guided by a vision. So when someone asks us “Why are you here?” We can answer, “Because there is evil in the world. It comes in many forms ranging from brutal and immediate to the complex and bureaucratic. But evil is not the highest power. We are here because love and goodness is the highest power. We are here because love asked us to come, to sit before you and say this cannot happen any longer.”