Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Are your ears tingling?
Have you answered …perhaps three times or more without knowing who or what was calling out to you?... maybe you didn’t learn what was pulling you out of slumber until much later…
At first, Samuel thought Eli, his teacher was calling him. It took awhile for them both to realize what was going on…
I like to think that for Samuel to understand who or what was really calling out to him he had to wake up and to listen…to get out of automatic gear…and when he did both his ears started tingling…. That is what happens when you really hear. The “ah ha” makes your whole body shudder. When you start to really listen, to open your ears, you have already begun moving towards…what comes next. When you begin to move full speed towards what is calling for you, your ears might just be blown back with the power of the holy.
We Unitarian Universalists are good; we are specialists, at answering the call to work for social justice. We see a need. We respond. We listen to where we can be of help and we get out and do what is necessary. We know a “call” doesn’t mean anything unless we move to respond. You have to get up and leave your place of rest and comfort… We do!
We answer. We occupy! We join the Coffee Party and the Sierra Club! We give our time and our energy to CSCENC so that no one has to suffer from cancer alone. We go stand on the courthouse steps, (mostly silently), so that women continue to have a right to decide about their own bodies. We work to end hunger and homelessness by volunteering with the shelter and with First Born. So many other callings we hear and we answer. Our ears tingle…
We know that we must wipe the sleep from our eyes, unclog our ears… Each of us, and all of us as a congregation, see and hear our calling in regards to what social justice work has meaning and is ours to do…
We have heard and we have answered.
If you looked back on the history of UU’s in Greenville, you’d see that this little congregation has always been on fire in a much bigger way than its numbers might predict in regards to social justice work.
But wow! We are really on fire now…! Almost every week, sometimes every day, when I tell people who I am, who I belong to, they say OH yeah, I have heard about you guys! You do this, you do that!
We’ve got the “zeal”…and people know it…we been called and we show it…
We have all our usual and important social action projects to do. And we have a call to stand for justice that needs us to respond. Last September 13th, the North Carolina Legislature proposed an amendment to the Constitution that would ban legal recognition for all unmarried couples, strip protections and benefits from families across our state, hurt our business climate and economic development and put our children in danger. (for more information)
If you have a dog in this fight…or know someone who does…if you are gay, or you are in an opposite sex relationship that is not “legal” in the eyes of the state…or you own a business that caters to people who are gay or in relationships that are not legal in the eyes of the state, or you care about the children raised in these families...you have to take action.
But this is not just an amendment that only the gay community and unmarried couples ought to be concerned about. This proposed amendment that people in NC will vote to pass or not on May 8th ought to be of concern to everyone who cares about legislated discrimination.
The amendment says that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized…” Hundreds of thousands of families who fall outside of this definition will be harmed by this Amendment.
It is not just about banning gay marriage (which a state law already does), this amendment would ban all other legal relationships between gay partners and unmarried straight partners. If this proposed constitutional amendment is approved it would mean there could never be civil unions in this state, and those domestic partnership benefits which are NOW offered to unmarried employees by the local governments of Asheville, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro, Mecklenburg County, Durham County and Orange County would be taken away.
And perhaps most appalling, this amendment would enshrine discrimination against same sex couples into the constitution of this state. That’s setting a legal precedent we can’t allow to happen.
It is not only wrong, it creates a dangerous situation for same sex couples and their children. Not unlike the social climate that existed not very long ago, when mixed race marriages were against the law, this amendment would protect discrimination. The NAACP understands that, and that is why they oppose this amendment.
This amendment is hateful. It would prevent any and all unmarried couples both same and opposite gender from being able to have a say when their partner is hospitalized or incapacitated, to decide on the disposition of their deceased partner’s remains, to make medical or financial decisions on their partner’s behalf. It would invalidate trusts, wills, end of life directives by one partner in favor of another. It would undercut existing child custody and visitation rights that have been designed to protect the best interests of the child regardless of the sex of their parents. This amendment would have the state send a message to the children of same sex or unmarried couples that they are second class citizens, undeserving of the same basic protections as are the children of legally recognized opposite sex marriages.
And there is little recognized consequence of this amendment has already happened in other states. In Ohio, where a less restrictive amendment was passed, perpetrators of domestic violence (batterers) who committed crimes against partners to whom they were not legally married were released from prison…because battering someone you are not legally married to was no longer a crime… That is what they had been charged with and when their amendment passed their lawyers got them released from prison because there was no longer a law that would have kept them from beating a partner they weren’t legally married to.
Many believe that all this proposed amendment will do is keep gay people from marrying in this state. That’s what some of us, some of our co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, family members think it is about. They don’t know what else it will bring.
Gay people have lived with an unequal and discriminatory situation for a long time. All sorts of statistics about suicide, murder, alcoholism, depression show the toll that being a second class citizen takes on GLBT people.
You need to know that the most vulnerable victims in NC of this amendment if it passes will be children.
NC is pretty progressive in regards to how it now treats the children of unmarried straight couples and gay couples. That will all change.
This amendment would change the visitation and custody rights that an unmarried parent now has. Now NC considers what is in the child’s best interest and it does not matter if the child’s parents are the same sex or if they are legally married. It will matter if this amendment passes.
It would become easy, all too easy, for the parent who may not have birthed the child to lose all rights to a child she or he may have co-parented, especially when or if the partner relationship ends. If a birth parent wants to keep an ex-partner out of a child’s life, she will be able to do so if this amendment passes. This amendment would also severely limit any unmarried partner’s rights to hospital visitation, medical decision making, end of life decisions related to the children they have parented. These are rights that NC recognizes and respects now. These rights won’t be there if this amendment passes.
Same sex or unmarried straight parents will find it impossible to share health insurance, life insurance, employment benefits, every privilege that will if this amendment passes will be held exclusively for straight married couples…no exceptions.
This amendment is about hatred. When you answer the call to be on the side of love to speak out… work for love… when you get up from your place of comfort and know that you must open your eyes and your ears and you listen to how to be at one…at work for love…your ears will tingle….
A colleague of mine recently delivered a sermon where she also used the same story I did of Samuel called by the holy in the middle of the night.
Martin Luther King Jr, was called by the holy in the middle of the night…
Just starting out as a new preacher with a new family just trying to make a living….In the middle of the night, he got a call. He heard that a young man had been beaten and he, MLK JR was being asked to step forward and do something. He was startled from sleep. I am sure his ears tingled. I am sure he was afraid. He answered and it cost him his life. He moved. He rose from his comfort. He would put at risk all that he loved.
Why? Because he knew, once the sleep fell from his eyes, that for him to be truly awake and alive, he had to answer the call of the holy, to walk into the light where love always wins….
…He had to move into the gale that would blow his ears back with its force.
I want to know if both of your ears tingling?
Are you hearing a call that is so compelling it wakes you up at night?
You have to do more than put up a welcoming congregation sign. You’ve got to do more than cast your one vote. You got to do more than sign a petition. You have to do more than what is easy….or safe….
…what I am trying to say to you is that this is about moving past comfort and fear and realizing that you can’t not answer. What is really calling out to you is not your teacher, not your minister, not this or that cause, not a social action project that we all decided to support….BUT LIFE itself….
When you hear the call that makes your ears blow back from the mighty wind you cannot and don’t want to resist, when you are willing to risk everything, because only if you answer will you live, then you will know what I mean…
Last week I talked about compassionate communication and how you can’t change someone else. The very best you can do is offer someone else the opportunity to change. Whether they will choose to or not isn’t up to you. The best you can do is set the stage for love…by being loving yourself…
This Sunday, I am asking again for you to set the stage, so that all of us in this state move towards equality, not away from it…
(use this scripture when you talk with your neighbors, friends, co-workers, family members...)
Posted by Rev. Ann Marie Alderman