Interdependent Web: The big picture, resisting politely, it's not funny

Interdependent Web: The big picture, resisting politely, it's not funny

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


The big picture

Doug Muder explains that “America First” means that China wins.

We need allies. We need institutions. In short, this is a uniquely bad time for the U.S. to set up the world to be dominated by an 800-pound gorilla. Because before much longer, that gorilla won’t be us. (The Weekly Sift, July 9)

Resisting politely

Demands for civility make Tina Porter want to scream in someone’s face.

[C]hildren in cages not to mention not being cleaned or comforted; a president who spins lie after lie with false claims against women and people of color and whose language has unleashed the worst in us; white people calling the police when black people do things (not even illegal things, and not always even doing any thing) because they are scared of black men, black women, and even black children; and the attempt at cleansing this nation of non-white people through inhumane and immoral means.


Exactly who needs to be upbraided about civility at this point? (Tina LB Porter, July 7)

John Beckett writes that resisting politely does not work.

No bully ever stopped bullying because his victim was polite. He stopped because his victim fought back, or because many victims banded together to outnumber him.

I’m sorry. I really am. I like order, I dislike chaos, and I hate confrontation. I wish being noble like Gandhi or King would work. But the times have changed and those in power have learned how to defeat non-violent strategies – it’s why protests haven’t worked since the 1960s. (Under the Ancient Oaks, July 8)

It’s not funny

The Rev. Jake Morrill shares his reactions to Hannah Gadsby’s recent stand-up feature on Netflix.

Scholars at the Humor Research Lab, at the University of Colorado, Boulder, have developed the “benign violation” theory of humor. It says that, for something to be funny, it must simultaneously be benign and also a violation—if it’s one, but not the other, it’s not funny. As I hear it, I don’t think Hannah Gadsby is challenging that basic framework, but I do think she’s setting a new boundary: saying that what’s benign for the audience isn’t benign for the comic, and (drawing from van Gogh and her own life) that an artist should not be required to suffer for their art. (Facebook, July 10)

The Rev. Catharine Clarenbach addresses the culture of cruelty in the current administration.

As I look at the United States’ current leadership, I recognize that some of the men (and a few women) with nearly absolute power have been or are heroes for some Americans.

And I also see evil. I don’t see perfect imperfection. I see human dignity warped and twisted into a grotesquerie.

I see the desire and wielding of power turning men into caricatures of Fascist demagogues. Power allowing them to unleash the storm of oppression against the most vulnerable in our society. (The Way of the River, July 9)

Living and dying

The Rev. Andrew Weber asks, “Is there some part of your life you want to improve?”

Think about a small step you can make, a step that you are sure you can keep! Do that, then add another small change you are sure you can do. And stick to them. May we all work toward self betterment in our spiritual and physical lives, with easy persistence. (How to Drive Like a Minister, July 8)

Claire Curole describes her work as a hospital chaplain.

Part of my job includes reassuring folks that if they are waiting, it’s a good sign that they are less sick than the person who is being rushed through.

Part of my job includes waiting, with family and friends as well as patients, while they find out how bad their day just got.

Part of my job includes just being there when things are very bad indeed. (Sand Hill Diary, July 8)

Andrew Hidas mourns a beloved catalpa tree, and a beloved chiropractor.

The great illusion is stasis. That what and who we have today will be the same tomorrow. This is ridiculous, of course, when we permit ourselves to think about it for two seconds, but it hangs on with utter tenacity in our psyches, allowing us to face the short-term tasks of our day with relative equanimity while the specter of every last thing’s impermanence is shunted to the background.

Whatever it is—our people, our pets, our homes, our jobs, our health, our wealth—there they are, ready and available and alive in perpetuity. Until they’re not.

That illusion of permanence goes double, it seems to me, for our trees. (Traversing, July 7)

The Rev. Theresa Novak compares our frenetic lives to the fast pace of hummingbirds.

Our fragile bodies
Are always prey
To the shadow cast
By the hunting owls
Swooping down like death
Catching us
In mid-flight.
The only lesson
Is to keep drinking
That sweet nectar
While it lasts. (Sermons, Poetry, and Other Musings, July 9)