When Love Is Not Enough…or The Non-Issue of “Standing” On The Side of Love pt.2

Hello all.

My hope was that my last post would start a wider-ranging conversation in the UU blogosphere. And while a few blogs did comment, I want the conversation to keep going.

In my last post, I took issue with those taking issue with the use of the word “standing” in the new campaign. This post, however, will take issue with the word love.

Don’t panic. I’m not against love.

I am against love in the place of action. And while some UU congregations have made real progress in terms of accessibility issues, too many think that love of the individual is enough. It is not.

So I’m going to reprint part of Mary’s letter and ask the question, what is YOUR congregation doing in terms of making its building(s) and programs as accessible as possible? Is there any action in the love you have?

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As a physical/human being no careful word-smithing or good intentions are an adequate substitute for a useable toilet or shower – especially when accommodations for many people’s needs are readily available or fixable. The word “standing” on a banner does not have the same power to exclude and harm me personally as compared with event organizers knowingly choosing a non-accessible site for a meeting or retreat I was hoping to attend. For example for the second year in a row the New England branch of the Retired UU Ministers (UURMaPA) is holding their retreat at a facility with no wheelchair accessible rooms even though the last time I stayed there I had to pee in a coffee mug, even though I reported this problem to the coordinators, even though they asked for a year to address it and then didn’t, even though there is a fully accessible retreat center nearby in NH- which means I am excluded again although I’m a retired UU minister living in New England. The fact of this and then the process of trying to remedy it really hurt my feelings and made me super mad. But at the end of the day I don’t want to drag this kind of heavy thing around with me or have this sort of humiliation and offensiveness taking up space in my life. Which is why I have resigned from the organization and asked that my name be taken off their list. Time to move on.

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3 thoughts on “When Love Is Not Enough…or The Non-Issue of “Standing” On The Side of Love pt.2

  1. “I am against love in the place of action.”

    Excellent point.

    Needless to say that it is assumed that actual action of some sort is implied in the word “love” at least within the context of the UUA’s Standing On The Side Of Love Campaign, which BTW I have heard an unsubstantiated rumor to the effect that it is a UUA *marketing* effort. . . If a whole lot of U*Us jump on the bandwagon proclaiming to stand on the side of love for this, that, or the other thing, and then proceed to do little or nothing to actively support the people or groups who they are ostensibly standing on the side of love for it will not *reflect* well on U*Uism.

  2. I am proud of my smallish, poorish congregation in that while our facilities are far from grand, everything we do have is accessible to wheelchair-bound people and we insist on everyone who speaks using a mike. There was a certain amount of hoo-hah about carrying mikes around the congregation for candles of joy and concern and the sharing afterwards — a couple singers and actors said “I’m in the business and I know how to project” and others whined that it wasn’t intimate — but we stuck to our guns and now everyone does it. People who complained were told, This is not about you, it’s about people who can’t hear you. Do you have some reason for wanting to exclude people who can’t hear you? It might not have been loving, but it cut through a lot of blather, raised their consciousness, and now everyone can hear. We also have large-print hymnals and earphones. We have ramps at front and back doors and every room is wheelchair accessible. Each rest room has a large stall with hand-rail and a low sink as well as a standard one. There are comfortable chairs in every room and hallway for people who need to sit, and our coffee service is accessible from every side.

    We do not have air conditioning anywhere but the administrator’s office. The meeting room gets very hot and during summer services, we need to use standing fans and keep doors open. Inevitably noise from our playground and a nearby kennel come into the meeting room, and between those and the roar of the fans, it is difficult for people with hearing aids. We have not yet worked out what to do about that.

  3. I just posted the following comment in the Fans section of the Standing On The Side Of Love campaign’s Facebook site. It is very apropos of what you have said here. It is a follow-up to this comment from nearly two weeks ago now. I will post the full text of that initial comment below the follow-up comment here –

    I would like to know what, if anything, the Standing on the Side of Love campaign in general, and former UUA President Bill Sinkford and Adam Adam Gerhardstein in particular, have done to stand on the Side Of Love for Marzieh Amirizadehand and Maryam Rustampoor since I posted the above comment almost two weeks ago. I have seen no evidence of anyone actually *doing* anything. Are they Standing On The Side Of Love as in standing on the side of doing nothing aka zero aka *love* as in tennis? Please let me know what steps have been taken to secure the release of Marzieh Amirizadehand and Maryam Rustampoor from prison in Iran since I posted the above comment.

    Initial comment – Two Iranian women who converted from Islam to Christianity ten years ago have been arrested and imprisoned in Iran’s notorious Evin prison. They face execution for apostasy. In that UUA President Bill Sinkford and other UUA representatives, including Adam Gerhardstein, met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a delegation from Iran last fall and asked –

    “Are protections being created for citizens who identify with different political parties, religious beliefs, and sexual orientations?”

    I believe that the UUA and the Standing On The Side Of Love campaign have a moral obligation to stand on the side of love for Marzieh Amirizadehand and Maryam Rustampoor who were both arrested in March. I hereby call upon former UUA President Bill Sinkford, the UUA, and the Standing On The Side Of Love campaign to do everything in their power and influence to secure the freedom of Marzieh Amirizadehand and Maryam Rustampoor and to ensure that their right to remain Christians is protected.

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