Interdependent Web: Love of country, just because something is a metaphor

Interdependent Web: Love of country, just because something is a metaphor

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


Love of country

The Rev. Ken Beldon prefers the “public open” of fireworks celebrations.

There’s a collective looking in the same direction to the sky, a shared experience of wonder and awe. At the same time, there’s also a clear, common understanding of when the display will start, and that it has an end. I hope this fixed time is a comfort, and offers preparation, to the people and creatures for whom fireworks are not an enjoyable experience.

What a contrast to the random blasts of home-based fireworks punctuating the air, coming from any and all directions over these last days, happening at any time. (Facebook, July 4)

The Independence Day holiday is a problematic one for the Rev. Kimberly Quinn Johnson.

I am not especially patriotic. Growing up, my father empowered us—through his example and his critique—to resist standing, hand over heart, to recite the pledge of allegiance and sing the Star Spangled Banner. That line in the pledge of allegiance—about liberty and justice for all—has mocked me since I was in middle school and old enough—educated enough—experienced enough—to know better. And The Star Spangled Banner cannot out-sing the discordance of its oft-ignored racist third verse. American patriotism—for me, and others like me—requires a suspension of disbelief. It requires us to strike a bargain of a kind of willful un-seeing and misremembering, in exchange for … what exactly? (Make Me Wanna Holler, July 5)

For many progressive and liberal people, this is a particularly difficult year to feel patriotic, with the Republican administration’s unrelenting assault on American ideals; Doug Muder noted this week that yes, Trumpcare will kill people. (Weekly Sift, July 3)

On the other side of the border, Canada celebrated its 150th anniversary; Liz James recognized the ups and downs of her country’s history.

One hundred fifty years is not a long time. It is not enough time to build a really solid oak tree country. It is enough time to build a butterfly country. A country that exists like tinker bell, because we believe in her.

And I believe in her. So much. I love this country so much. For what it is today, and for all the things that we are, together, working to create in it for tomorrow.

We’re not just citizens. We’re founding parents. Kinda. In a blended family—some parts have been here thousands of years, and some just joining. Some that would call themselves Canadians, some who still see themselves as people of the nations that existed when we arrived. Still working on it.

Still early days, working on something really hard, really challenging, and oh so worth it. (Facebook, July 1)

Just because something is a metaphor

The Rev. Theresa Soto addressed objections to reimagining the metaphor at the heart of the UUA’s Standing on the Side of Love campaign.

Ableism is a real way in which the lives of people with disabilities are devalued, up to and including dehumanization.

Talking about the ableism in the name of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign refers to a specific analysis: ableism is a system of values and application of them that places a high value on able bodies and low value or no value on bodies of people with disabilities. (Medium, July 4)

Alex Kapitan pointed out the challenges of a rigid adherence to “person-first language,” noting that it’s time to actually put the person in question first.

A few years ago I received an email from someone who scolded me for writing “transgender people” in a recent piece. “The appropriate term is ‘people who identify as transgender,’” she informed me. I was stunned. Why in the name of all that’s holy was someone who clearly wasn’t trans and likely didn’t even know any trans people writing to me—a trans person—and telling me I was using the wrong language to refer to myself and my community?

Because #personfirstlanguage. This person had internalized the rule that you had to put the word person first, and she was on a crusade to make sure everyone else followed this rule, too. (Radical Copyeditor, July 3)

Conversations at General Assembly and in the days afterward prompted Kat Liu to revisit her undergraduate Introduction to Ethics class.

[These] past few days post-GA I’ve been saying, and agreeing with others who’ve been saying, that people are more important than rules. Rules are created to serve people, not the other way around. This is not a new claim. What’s new to me is connecting this to the understanding that many UUs are still operating under an Enlightenment worldview. They want to be able to articulate universal governing rules whereby we interact with the least harm. “Do we say Native American or American Indian?” “Do we say people with disabilities or disabled people?” Wanting to know the correct answers, and then once those answers are “known” wanting to impose them on everyone in the belief that if they are true then they are true for everyone. This approach is materialist, reductionist, rational. . .

The intent—wanting to do the least harm—is good, but it’s this idea that people are objects (not subjects) that can be studied and then described in simple rules that is harmful. (, July 5)

From her deep listening to the conversation about ableist language, Lynn Ungar wrote a song that celebrates the metaphor of sitting. (Facebook, June 30)

In the context of UU discussions about ableist language, the Rev. Sean Dennison offered a refresher course about how oppression works and why it matters.

Words are just words. They also have power. Both things are true and everyone knows it. The people working to change the words we use understand metaphor and how it works, so crying, “It’s just a metaphor!” is remarkably unhelpful. Here’s the thing: how you let people talk about you is how they will treat you. Words that diminish the value of a person or group of people are never harmless. If we don’t constantly reflect on the ways our language excludes and demeans people, we end up being accomplices to injustice. We may find that to sing about love and justice, we have to find new words. (Medium, July 1)