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Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

In many Unitarian Universalist churches and fellowships, we share Joys and Concerns (sometimes called Joys and Sorrows) each Sunday morning. The usual caveat is to not bring our political concerns and activities into that time, which I usually agree with because of the possibility of disagreement and destruction of a worshipful time. But, sometimes, as now, there are situations that threaten to affect everyone. Those situations and threats make it too difficult to keep silent.

As UUs, we are sometimes criticized for being too individualistic. One of our treasured UUA principles is “A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.”  Yet, according to Michael Durall in The Almost Church Revitalized, [that principle] “is of questionable value, and may be detrimental to future growth. This is because the search for truth is the quintessential private spirituality.”

Our own private spirituality is very important and necessary. However, I feel there are times when a strong  public witness in a church service is needed. I am in no way belittling the sharing of individual concerns and joys, our hopes and fears for ourselves and our friends and families, our deaths, our hospitalizations, our birthdays, our graduations, and all of the other private  feelings and concerns about our daily lives. That is so important. If done in a spirit of respect and reverence, that time can be thoughtful and important.

But, most of us have strong beliefs and feelings when things are just plain wrong and dangerous, and we work to make a difference in peoples’  lives, both individually and in groups. I am extremely concerned and very frightened about the current Republican attacks on women’s freedoms. Many of us worked so hard in the 1960s and 1970s to help guarantee the right of contraception, the right of abortion, the right to have control over our own bodies. I see the future of those rights being eroded daily and cannot be silent.

Perhaps those concerns do not belong in sharing personal Joys and Concerns. But to me, a situation that threatens to affect the lives of everyone, both women and men, so negatively by taking away the rights of women over their own bodies has to be shared openly so that we can make a concerted effort to collectively do what is necessary to preserve and enhance those rights.

How can we share that in a reverent fashion?

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“You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You’re crazy! I was just joking, don’t you have a sense of humor? You’re so dramatic. Just get over it already!”

Yashar Ali is a Los Angeles-based columnist, commentator, and political veteran whose writing is showcased on The Current Conscience. On Sept. 12, 2011, he wrote about gaslighting,  a term “to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.” That blog, A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not “Crazy”  helped me think about the number of times I’ve experienced comments like those above and seen other women try to deal with them, knowing those comments were a form of emotional manipulation yet still unsure if they were valid or not. I’d never heard the term “gaslighting” before, but think it’s a helpful one.

Please read the blog and, if you’d like, let me know what you think.

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