Friday, December 19, 2008

The Obama Controversy

Well, it didn't take long for the glowing halo over Obama's head to dull and get slightly askew. If you haven't heard by now, Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life" as well as mega church pastor, has been asked to be a part of Obama's inauguration ceremony. You can read more about the ceremony plans here. The reason that this is causing such an uproar? Warren is and has been outspoken about his position against gay marriage. Many gay rights groups worked for Obama's campaign and now they feel they got stabbed in the back. I got an email from the Human Rights Campaign today about it. Rick Warren is one of those who backed Proposition 8 in California which bans gay marriage in the California constitution.

I'm sure you've all heard about the ruckus over Prop 8, but I'm intrigued with the way that things have been playing out in the gay community. I, like many others, was ecstatic when Obama was elected (had tears as I watched his acceptance speech) and angry when I heard about Prop 8. If California can't defeat such a measure, what hope is there in other states? I've already watched similar measures take place in Missouri, which kills my chances at legal marriage in my own home state. The passage of Prop 8 seemed to be the 2 steps back to the Obama one step forward. So I can understand the disappointment and anger that has been felt upon the invitation of Rick Warren to some degree - it's inviting the enemy to the celebratory feast in a way. However, I would remind people, particularly those who are so upset over this, that Obama has always said he would try to build bridges and unite America. He also said he would invite people he knows he disagrees with to work with him - it's how he understands the other side of an issue and takes various perspectives into consideration. Rick Warren speaking at inauguration is one of what I believe will be many such invitations.

Gay marriage and abortion may be the two most divisive issues - at least social issues - in this country. They come up over and over again in political campaigns year after year, and while we tend to have our steroetypes (that Democrats are pro-choice and pro-gay rights while Republicans are pro-life and homophobic) we all know that when you get to know people as actual individuals, it's not usually that cut and dry. I know that I amaze people when they hear me say that I tend to be pro-life (WHAT?! A lesbian who isn't pro-choice?) and I used to vote much more Republican than I have these last few years. Let's face it - most of us aren't cut and dry members of either political party - there are too many issues for all of us to agree on all of them no matter what our ideals and underlying values. The parties have to meet to decide what their official stances are on things on a regular basis - these things are much more fluid than they get made out to be. Obama said up front that he's not a proponent of gay marriage per se (he and Biden seem to be in the "civil union" camp), but inauguration day isn't going to be about any stance on particular issues. It's about celebrating a moment and starting a new administration with a new attitude. The previous administration was a bland mixture - everyone agreed to the same thing, had to play by a party line. Obama is mixing it up - he's inviting everyone to the table and asking everyone to talk with each other. That means the gay activists are going to have to learn how to tolerate Rick Warren and others like him. We can't say we want tolerance and then be intolerant to those who aren't just like us - that's what we usually do but it's not anything different than what's been done to us.

I have a Nalgene water bottle covered with various stickers to make a statement and personalize it so that I can tell which one is mine. One of the stickers that gets a lot of comments is "WARNING: Intolerance will not be tolerated!" Funny, yes, but it also makes a point. When we fight intolerance, it means we have to fight it within ourselves as much as in other people. Injustice isn't just something done TO us, it's also something done BY us. I could start quoting scripture about planks in your own eye while you're picking out dust in someone else's but I think you get the point. Let Obama go with this and let's see what happens. Warren isn't even that bad a guy if he's getting people more involved in fighting HIV and AIDS and doing other good things in this world. Nobody is all right or all wrong, so let's let it go. There are more important things to spend our energy on and we've got four whole years to see what Obama's going to do and what direction this country will truly move.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Five: Windows to the Soul

Sophia posted today's Friday Five after her husband got Lasik surgery. Here are my answers and thoughts related to those windows to the soul - eyes.
1. What color are your beautiful eyes? Did you inherit them from or pass them on to anyone in your family?
My eyes are brown, but have a bit of green and gold to them (depending on my mood, lighting, etc.). They're kind of a mix of my parents' eyes (mom's are hazel, dad's were very dark brown). I don't have (and won't have) any biological offspring so they won't get passed on to anyone. Not sure how I feel about that.

2. What color eyes would you choose if you could change them?
I wish the green and gold showed up more often, so I guess I'd like to have hazel eyes. There are also times I wish they were a really dark brown like my dad and brother's eyes. It looks more Italian. :)

3. Do you wear glasses or contacts? What kind? Like 'em or hate 'em?
I didn't used to but when I worked 911 for almost 5 years, the computer screens glaring at me all night required glasses. I continued needing them for all the reading I did in seminary and know I'm at another job with lots of computer time. I don't wear them at home very often though. I love glasses on other people - almost everyone I've ever dated wore glasses - and don't mind them for myself. I love that they limit the headaches, hate that they get dirty pretty easily.

4. Ever had, or contemplated, laser surgery? Happy with the results?
Never had it and haven't contemplated it. Can't imagine my eyes will get bad enough that it will be worth the cost and risk of surgery but you never know... Trouble has contemplated it but probably won't ever do it.

5. Do you like to look people in the eye, or are you more eye-shy?
Depends on the situation but in general I'm not eye-shy and like looking people in the eye. I think eye contact is an important part of interpersonal communication - it lets people know that you're being honest, intentional, listening, etc. I've been on a couple of interviews where my eye contact was commented on and helped give me that "little something" to get a call back. In this world of Facebook, blogs, texting, etc. I wonder if we're losing numbers of people who do well in person because they don't know how or are just uncomfortable making eye contact. Do we truly believe that eyes are still the windows to the soul? Are we afraid of baring our own souls to others or afraid of seeing others' souls?

Bonus question: Share a poem, song, or prayer that relates to eyes and seeing.
I can think of several songs that relate to eyes and seeing, but I would have to say that my favorites would be "Brown Eyed Girl" (which has been mentioned by many of my RevGal colleagues), "Bette Davis Eyes" (an 80's classic) and "Eye of the Tiger" (another 80's classic and one of the favorites on our karaoke game).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This is just so unexpected...

RevHipChick, now known as RevCrystalK, has nominated me for a blog award! Granted, she's one of my best friends in "real" life which will doubtedly make some question whether I actually deserve this award or not, but since each person is supposed to pass this on the another 5, it's kind of a viral phenomenon anyway. My problem now is that I'm supposed to nominate 5 more people and I don't follow that many blogs! Stay tuned - I'll come up with my list a little later...

Of course, as with every Bloggy Award, there are A Few Rules. They are:

  • Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

  • Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

  • Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

  • Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

  • Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Fear/Anxiety/Concern... whatever you call it, it still holds us back

I'm writing this piece out of a lot of frustration at work. There is a particular person (who I shall refrain from naming out of kindness) who always seems to be "nervous" about something when we want to generate activity on a new program or ask for partnership in a new venture. One of the things that my job entails is overseeing our Cans for Habitat program. Here in Kansas City, I've figured out that if each person recycles only 10 cans for our program, we'll have enough money to build a family a new house. I know a lot of people who drink more than 10 cans of soda a week so this should be easy!

On Thanksgiving Day, the Kansas City Star newspaper did a
front page article on easy ways that people are helping their favoritie organizations that don't involve writing a check (since money is tight for everyone these days). Lisa Solvay, one of our program regulars, was featured and it's gotten a lot of feedback to my email. I have been wanting to really get this program going but there has always been some reason why the timing wasn't quite right before. Now that I'm getting emails from businesses and people all over the metro area, it seems like the time to really do it -- but wait. One of the things I'd like to do is talk with local retailers or distributors about donating some plastic garbage cans that withstand outdoor conditions to collect cans. Right now we offer free bins and liners to people who want to collect cans for us, but they are made of cardboard and don't last long outside. We can't even use them on our construction sites for volunteers who are drinking soda on site. If I could get, say 10 Rubbermaid trash cans, we could cut holes in the lid to make it clear they are for cans (not trash), and we'd have a sturdy, weatherproof collection bin that could go on our construction sites and be offered to those offices that don't have enough indoor space to add another bin. I have one such business I'm working with right now and I know that people in our office have connections with some local retailers who sell Rubbermaid trash cans but if I mention that I'd like to ask them for in-kind donations, I get shot down.

"I don't know - I'm nervous about asking people for things that are going to a program that isn't really fleshed out yet. We don't know how we're getting those cans yet and what do we do when those trash cans that were donated all get stolen?" This is what I'm up against. I've tried to explain that if we can't offer this option, people may not even collect the cans in the first place. Once they collect the cans we can work out how we're going to transport them to our office (whrer we have a dumpster). At least that's how I see it. I'm not a haphazard kind of person - I don't just do things without any kind of plan in place, but you can't plan out for every contingency ahead of time before you even ask for the basics to get the program off the ground!! Am I off base here? What can I do to overcome these fears that are killing my program before it ever gets going? How do I deal with a co-worker who is uncomfortable asking anyone for anything when we're a non-profit and the economy is putting us in more of a bind that usual? HELP!