sex, money, and miscellany: talking about what matters

something on the side of love

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2009 at 6:05 am

This is going to piss some people off. There’s a new UUA campaign called Standing on the Side of Love. It’s a fantastic campaign, about acting in accordance with our values, about social and political action of various stripes.

But: some people in the Association think that it was an ableist choice of language, standing instead of being or moving or something else that someone in a wheelchair can do too. And there’s a whole thing about not using metaphors of vision or hearing or walking or darkness and light, because those can carry subtle messages of ableism or racism.

Now I’m all about the power of language. I know that words are powerful and embedded, subtle messages are the most dangerous of all. I love this Onion article about racism getting stronger and going underground, because I think it is absolutely true, and one of the hardest things facing us in the US and in the UUA today.

AND I think we cannot take metaphor from the poets, because it is possible to strip what is possible down until there is nothing left. Think about Harrison Bergeron. When we describe things, we have to go deep into our own experience to make meaning of them. My experience as me includes standing and seeing and hearing things. I would argue that “turn a deaf ear to advice” is not derogatory, but descriptive. Sometimes turning a deaf ear is bad; sometimes it’s the best thing you can do if you want to break the mold or be independent. And standing on the side of love is not about standing versus sitting. It’s about standing on the side of love versus standing on the side of hate, and that’s something we can all get together on.

  1. I agree… this issue begs to be reduced to absurdity. What about people with severe autism or oxytocin deficiency who can’t feel love in the same way as the rest of us? How dare we imply that feeling love is a necessary part of our religion? Sigh.

    And then then the word “side” implies polarization… why must we polarize the issue when we could choose to see a gray area? Whoops, visual metaphor, I mean an ambiguous, wait, that implies there are only two sides, so that’s worse…

    When I started reading your article, I thought the controversy would be because “standing” is too passive — we should be marching or acting or speaking out or something, but of course that would be more discriminatory. I guess we should rewrite hymns like “Marching in the light of God” and “Peaceful Angry People” to include verses about existing or forming opinions or something.

  2. I know some people get really sensitive about using words or phrases that might exclude a portion of the population… but this infraction seems very minor, especially compared to what a positive message and impact it can serve to have.

    I agree about the issue of racism, honestly it felt so much more important to me in the midst of your metaphor frustration that I almost neglected to address it. Eh, racism, anti-semitism, sexism and class-ism are all the rage on the QT. People are uncomfortable even with the simple mention of racism. They get all defensive and up in arms. It was brought up in a lecture at one point months and months ago, and the entire room went silent. People were sitting defensively and obviously, physically uncomfortable with it, let alone being internally uncomfortable with the notion that we are far from the point of it being a non-issue. The best thing we can do is get to talking about it without that defensiveness. We have to be open to discussing the hard stuff to be able to get .anywhere.

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