Interdependent Web: Painful steps to justice, baseball in a time of politics, and the myth of merit

Interdependent Web: Painful steps to justice, baseball in a time of politics, and the myth of merit

A weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism.


The painful steps to justice

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum recounts the story of finally, at long last, winning the struggle for a non-discrimination ordinance in Jackson, Michigan—and her own emotional reaction to the experience.

I’m proud of the work we did to win the vote, and happy we have the nondiscrimination ordinance at last, but I’ll never forget how some of the people stared right at me as they said that their Christian faith demanded they act this way. For one evening my hetero privilege was stripped away, and it was shocking and scary. There were people trying to intimidate me at several points. As I left the theater, a man started yelling at me and accusing me of things I hadn’t done, and I felt threatened and afraid. Fortunately the police were there and hurried him on his way, and also fortunately I had a ride to my car. . . .

[My] LGBTQ friends here [have] seen this hate before, and they knew it was here under the surface still. They were less surprised than me at the language thrown at them, and many were less intimidated than me by the preachers staring them down while yelling about Sodom. And at the end of the night, they had won. After twenty years of working, we had bent the arc toward justice. (RevCyn, February 16)

The myth of merit

When Beyoncé lost out at the Grammys to Adele three times, Kenny Wiley found himself thinking about Black excellence.

It’s great that every February, we lift up black innovators and leaders. But excellence hasn’t been enough to get more than a small percentage of us out of hardship—and sometimes comes at great cost, and with tremendous backlash. (Facebook, February 12)

Raziq Brown compares the merits of Obama and Trump.

Both men are operating in a system that claims to be based on merit, both men know it’s a lie, everyone knows that on some level. Both men did what they needed to do to get their jobs.

So it really isn’t a question of fairness.

We can argue all day about fairness.

The question becomes if your merit based system is so broken it can’t stop incompetent people from wrecking the entire system, is the system worth defending or supporting? (Facebook, February 15)

The Rev. James Ford highly recommends the movie I Am Not Your Negro.

If you don’t understand what the fuss is about with the Black Lives Matter movement, this film is for you. If you do, this film is for you. If you’re black or any kind of person of color, this film is for you.

And, most of all, if you’re white, this film is for us.

Ninety-three minutes opening the window and letting the air in. A spiritual documentary. (Monkey Mind, February 13)

Baseball in a time of politics

Doug Muder writes about the financial conflicts of interest of the Trump administration.

What makes this behavior particularly galling to Democrats is the hypocrisy of it: Not so long ago Trump was regularly attacking Hillary Clinton for the apparent (though not particularly real) conflict between her management of the State Department and her connection to the Clinton Foundation, from which the Clintons have never received any direct benefit. Now government employees are openly working to put money into the pockets of the Trumps, and it’s all good. . . .

When public officials are actively involved in business, that opens them not just to bribery, but also to pressure from boycotts. But if the Trumps’ assets were in blind trust where they belong, #GrabYourWallet would be no threat to them.

As far as I can tell, no one in the White House is drawing that conclusion. (The Weekly Sift, February 13)

The Rev. Elz Curtiss chooses an interesting strategy for channeling her political anger—choosing a rival baseball team to hate.

As the pitchers and catchers settle in, I’m looking for a team to hate as much as I hated the Dodgers. I need it. Someone to wish into a baseball gutter, to jeer with ugly, dripping sneers when they take the field. I need them because I refuse to stoop to that level in discussing our president, his party, nor the people who put them in office. If this country is to have any future, someone has got to take the first step in modeling an admirable minority position. It doesn’t mean staying quiet on issues, it doesn’t mean keeping calm in the face of outrage. . . .

But if I’m going to keep this cool in what looks to be a long, hot summer, it’s going to take a scapegoat from major league baseball to keep me stable. (Politywonk, February 15)

The Rev. Jake Morrill chooses not to engage in a political argument on Valentine’s Day.

At the hibachi restaurant, I got there early—Molly was still picking up the guys from soccer. And the hostess sat me down at a hibachi table right next to one of the guys in town who has a hobby of going online and saying terrible and sometimes threatening things about me and the church. So I went back out and asked for a booth in the other room, Molly and the guys showed up, and we had an excellent Valentine’s Day dinner, though I got some teasing about my glitter skills. I had a fantasy about staying there at the table next to the guy and winning him over until he tearfully apologized for being so awful. But fixing his problem turns out to probably not be my job. At least not on Valentine’s Day. I have my own problems to work on. Like my glitter skills. (Facebook, February 14)

After watching Trump’s handshake power-plays, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein offers her fellow clergy advice about negotiating greetings.

Be ye wise as serpents and gentle as Jackie Chan. You may not be able to muster a power handgrip, but you need to be able to exude strength through direct and steady gaze, taking control of how people touch you, and where you are positioned in a room. (Beauty Tips for Ministers, February 14)