Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Party at the Relatives' House (in the early to mid-60's)

Ah Christmastime! Some little kid will reluctantly go to the big, once-a-year get-together at a relative's house, and then not feel good and be made to lie down in a relatives' bedroom. The bedroom is frightening and cold, and lying there in the dark is very lonely.

For one little girl named Barbara, that spare bedroom is also being used as a coat room. Guests will come in and toss coats on the bed, sometimes noticing a little form in the bed after throwing a coat on her, but more often, not seeing her at all. She is embarrassed anyway. She tries to figure out who everyone is by their voices, but is not very good at it. It is boring in that room!

The coats pile on higher and higher atop the little girl, and she doesn't seem to know enough to move them off of her. Furs used to be a show of status, and those smelly, heavy coats were the worst to have stacked on the pile.

Everyone else is having a good time and the little girl lies there feeling forgotten. She is forgotten! She finally, carefully gets up, making sure not to muss the coats, deciding she feels better and tries to join the group.
She walks timidly, feeling unwelcome, and tearfully stands near her parents who seem surprised to see her and ask her why she left the room; as if putting her in a bed in an unfamiliar house was a good way of getting a break from their little, pitiful child who was spoiling the party with her attitude. They tell her to go back under the covers and she obeys, returns to the room and slips back under the coats, crying to herself, knowing they do not want her to ruin the party.

Finally, the room with the coats becomes too much to bear and she finds the strength to resurface and go back out to the party. She insists she is all right and refuses to return to that room with ominous coats.   I remember nothing else of that Christmas party, but the coats and the cold room are etched in my memory forever!

Here's to happier parties for you and your children this holiday season!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Unitarians Calling People to Prayer?

The latest edition of the UUFD (Unitarian Universalist of Decatur) newsletter was delivered, and when I read a paragraph from the minister repeatedly asking everyone to pray for the indigenous people at Standing Rock, I realized I may not be able to fit in with Unitarians anymore.  I have crossed the line into “hardened atheist.”  The calls for prayer and especially prayer alone, offend me.  What good will praying do?  She should have told her followers something the congregation could do that would actually help the people. 

I realize “pray” came from a position of helplessness and caring, and some will even say praying will motivate others because they will become more positive and vested in the cause, but I think it will do the opposite.  I think it makes a person feel like they have helped and it puts the action into “God’s hands.”  It wipes responsibility away from a person and takes away their need to help the downtrodden.

Unitarian churches differ from congregation to congregation, and pastors have a lot to do with the tone of the church.  Some are focused strongly on gay rights, some have a good variety of issues, and some are conservative in nature, with a minister who defected from evangelical pastorship and still conveniently quotes the Bible because it is what he knows. 

In order for a church to be a church, the word “faith” must be used.  Unitarians are big on faith.  Now, despite my analytical writing, I am a caring person and a positive, rather funny person – in person.  But being Unitarian requires a tolerance for people who believe in fairies, in pseudoscience, and in being compassionate toward humans even when they are doing wrong.  An example of the latter is when a guest at a vegan/vegetarian meet-up group ordered meat.  Our vegan/vegetarian group is made up of many Unitarians, and a good share of them are not vegan or vegetarian but love animals and like eating healthy.  As we discussed the situation at our vegan potluck meeting of a guest eating meat at the vegan/vegetarian meet-up, my reaction was that it was totally inappropriate and disrespectful to the group.  I used the example that if we allow people to order meat at the vegan/vegetarian meet-up, we should hand out slabs of steak at our vegan/vegetarian potlucks because, “they are not vegan so we must have meat handy for them.”  Of course, they brushed off that example because the thought of having meat handy at a vegan/vegetarian potluck is absurd, and they did not understand my comparison! 

Only three of us shared the same views, and we are all vegan – the rest took the side of the guest, and said we should be compassionate to all.  All humans, that is.  Once again, we see that people who are not in the group for animals' rights will put people's feelings before the needs of the animals.  I was not rude to anyone and was not even present at the vegan/vegetarian meet up where the guest ordered meat.  I simply gave my opinion at our potluck meeting that I thought the guest was out of line, and found myself in the minority.
Perhaps I do not have the patience for stupid people anymore!  Perhaps I lack the “anything goes” attitude and the "we must be cheerful all the time" demeanor. 

Standing Rock was not solved with a prayer – it is being solved by action. 
Not every challenge mankind faces can be solved with a hug.