20 1 / 2014
A Nobel laureate with a fancy mustache and a pipe, William Faulkner, called Will by his friends, gave some writing advice that is such a strong metaphor that it reaches from the past to startle us a bit. Will said this:
"Kill your darlings."
What does it mean? It means that authors tend to hold favorite metaphors close, to rely on them and reuse them. These can be techniques, like overly flowery prose, or specific images. In The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, he talks about people checking out their dandruff three times. Different characters, different dandruff, it’s clearly a favorite image of the author’s. I’m pretty sure it’s a darling he could kill.
Unitarian Universalism has a darling in the Standing on the Side of Love campaign name.
When Standing on the Side of Love was conceived, it was the embodiment of a commitment to LGBTQ rights. Our macaroni and cheese orange shirts, assembled as a sea, were the symbol of joining the voices of individuals in the Movement. All good.
The problem is that the language, the name of the campaign excludes people who are in and who are beloved of the Unitarian Universalist movement. Standing on the Side of Love is great, unless you don’t stand, unless you use a wheelchair, or a scooter or other varying mobility device as a way of getting around and being in the world.
It is a handy phrase, but for Unitarian Universalism to default to this language is a way of shutting Love out. The way we include others in our speaking is a way that we express their belonging with us and our caring for them. Failing to think or talk about the way language can render other people invisible and silence their stories means that we leave Love out of our interactions. Is exclusive language our only and best idea? Is leaving Love out the best welcome we can extend? No, it’s not.
It is time to kill our darling. In a time when our Movement is faithfully calling for justice in areas of immigration and LGBTQ rights, people with disabilities must not be left behind. Our congregations are more than just a place to talk about the work of justice. They are a place where we can be justice, but more than just doing hard work of justice. Acting justly is a way that we show Love to siblings and friends in community. There will be work to do to create inclusion. Our reason to do that is Love.
It’s for Love that we can kill our darling, to give space for something new to arise. For example, Living on the Side of Love is alliterative and would allow for a plant or vine to be added to the current logo. I’m not suggesting that I have the solution for replacing the ableist language. Rather, I mean that it is time for us as a movement to have that conversation:
What is possible if we give up the Standing on the Side of Love campaign in favor of what else may come if we consider seeking an inclusive expression of Love?