Monday, February 14, 2011

Pro-love, anti-hate (by Suzie)

"Join us on February 14, and the days surrounding, as we re-imagine Valentine’s Day as a holiday of love and acceptance for everyone." -- Unitarian Universalist Association, on the web page for its "Standing on the side of love" project. "Ask your public officials to denounce vitriolic rhetoric and to recommit to respect and inclusion."

From what I can tell from my own church and the UUA web site, "Standing on the side of love" revolves around rights for LGBT people and undocumented immigrants. My guess is that all these loving people would recoil in horror if someone came to church and announced they were against gays in the military and in favor of building a wall along the Mexican border.

A couple of years ago in my church, a man got up during joys and sorrows to decry illegal immigration. I leaped up to correct him. The difference was, I know I'm not all that loving.

As a UU committed to critical thinking, I want to point out the marketing aspect of being "pro-love" or "anti-hate." It's akin to conservative Christians calling themselves "pro-family," people opposed to abortion saying they are "pro-life," or one group of feminists calling themselves "pro-sex." These are nebulous terms applied to specific political positions, in an effort to grab the upper hand. I resist them, even though I do fall prey to them from time to time, such as using "pro-choice" as shorthand for my belief in abortion rights.

I'm especially wary of using "love" to fight oppression, as this UU site suggests. Over the millennia, men have said they loved women, or they loved particular women, but denied them rights or "disciplined" them. The same is true for other classes of people. Today, many Christian conservatives say they love the sinners, but hate the sin, including when "sin" amounts to "rights" for others. Women have been told to love their men, even if it means putting up with abuse. Women who want their rights often get labeled "man-haters." Men have stalked or killed women whom they "loved."

When I'm told I need to love others, I'd like to know a few more details. When people say they love me, pardon me if I ask what the conditions are.