I have spent a great deal of time working on a wonderful Believe Out Loud curriculum. The focus is on telling our stories, pivotal times in our lives that committed or recommitted ourselves to our call to action and on graceful engagement, finding commonalities with people with whom we may not agree to continue dialogue instead of being confrontational.
This week, besides being a glorious time for celebration in the day and lesbian community, has helped me to think deeper about how a nation-wide event might play out in the context of these two tools for activism.
Tell our individual stories is effective, but telling our stories around a common event has the potential to be even more powerful. This has played out through history for every group working for civil rights and equality through "Where were you when...?"
Where were you when Martin Luther king was assisnated? Where were you when the civil rights act was passed? In this day of instant media the question becomes more and more universallly answerable. Today it is: Where were you when DOMA was declared unconstitutional? Now add how did you feel and why? We can all tell a story about this.
Gay people can tell stories about what it will mean to them, how there lives will be different or what hopes you have that you didn't have before this happened.
My lesbian and gay brothers ans sisters have a choice. They can see this with anger that it does not affect them. That reaction is totally justifiable. They can also tell a story from a place of empowerment. They can tell a story of hope that this decision opens doors that were firmly shut.
And then there is graceful engagement. That seems a very tough one today. I read Brian Bown's (NOM) ranting that "It would appear that the desire to impose same-sex marriage by some
public officials trumps integrity, fairness, propriety, and even the
rule of law. All Americans should be outraged!" And there is worse vitriol.
I believe that graceful engagement calls me not to do what I just did. Quoting people who do not engage in graceful engagement does nothing but further the notability of these people. Calling them "haters," as many bloggers do. What I am called to do is frame the way of love... and this is more than spin. The more that Brown and his ilk speak, the more that they reveal that there understanding of love, as preached by Jesus, who they say they follow, is limited