Yesterday was just so wonderful and so beautiful that I just couldn’t string two thoughts together. That is not true, I strung copious amounts of thoughts together and produced much, I just couldn’t get it together blog wise. I settled for random status updates and then engaged in an absolutely juvenile contest of posting music videos with colors in their name on facebook. It was quite enjoyable; it probably irritated the heck out of some people.
Yesterday, in anticipation of spring, I tuned up the bike and put new inner tubes in the tires and then when it suddenly it got sunny and clear – off I went. I am always nervous when I haven’t been riding for a while to jump back on the street but – there is a reason the phrase “it’s like riding a bicycle” is in our vocabulary. Within moments, not only was I zooming along but I was also right back in stride screaming profanities at drivers as I worked to claim space on the roads. Not only is there still sections of ice and snow blocking parts of the bike lane, but some of the potholes in the bike lane would literally kill you. In fact, one on Hope Street did just over a year ago. A perfectly reasonably, experienced and properly helmeted cyclist hit a small pot hole just deep enough to bring the cycle to a complete stop and launch him over the handlebars. You can fill in the blanks with what happened.
I do feel safer on the bicycle then in a car I find. People don’t drive cars anymore; they roll around in little terrariums lost in their own worlds. It is easy to drive without paying attention because of all the safety features in a car, and if something goes wrong, they can blame the manufacturer.
In my rambling around, I kept passing this bus shelter with one of those advertisement boards that they have, this one was for the Unitarian Universalist church. It read, “Are you a UU? Would you like your children to go to church that teaches morals and ethics without guilt?” That is an approximate quote, if I was truly high speed I would take a break, walk up and look.
Oh wait; I am high speed, brb I am going to check because it is worth it. Ok, it’s a picture of a bi-racial couple holding two small children (bi-racial, girl and boy) and underneath it says, “If you’re looking for a Church where children learn values without guilt…www.AreYouUU”
Now, this ad struck me, especially given a small facebook discussion that went on yesterday as well in which people from very different religions discovered that there is not so much difference in them at all (except for a few who tried to express sympathy without admitting to any similarity).
What struck me was the double and negative message of the ad. It implies two things – one, if you are not UU then you are in a religion that uses guilt to reinforce values and two, all other religions are guilt based. It also, funnily enough, uses a very strong guilt-inducing message to get people to go to their web site.
Now, to be honest, I have not had stellar experiences with UUers or their church. The ones I have encountered have been blazingly intolerant, to the point of defamation of quite a few religions while simultaneously professing an acceptance of all. The same is true of their political leanings – only a narrowly defined left stance is validated, to hold a different view is to be vilified and often openly within the community. Then again, and it is one of the few times I truly agree with Nietzsche, “Most people are sane, it is groups, organizations and nations where insanity is rife.”
I am not saying that all of them are like that. That has been my experience and seeing that billboard with its message of negative identity suggests that it is a rising trend within their organization.
That is what it is called, a negative identity. Any time people gather because of what they are not, what they reject, or what they vilify then that is a negative identity. Little good can come from it. Even in groups like abolition groups against the death penalty, that is a membership formed around negativity and rejection. The more effective group will be the one who gathers to promote human rights and as an outgrowth of that works for abolition.
Against is against is against, and being against something is draining and stressful. There is no food for the soul in just railing against something. But neither is their sustenance in an overly and unrealistic rosy optimism. When you combine either with a structure of belief/faith, everything gets amplified even more.
Reality is that everything has its positive and negative attributes. It is learning what those are and how much of each is necessary for the life that is the key to balance. Negative things are necessary; they are a part of the naturalness of life. Not, though, negative things that have been created out of falsehood or illusion – and that is a whole other area.
It will be almost 60 today with a strong chance of rain. I don’t care. I will break out the rain cape and pedal around.
c.2011. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.