Measured Extravagance

29 June 2003 - 8:48 a.m.


Whew - the final draft of the Statement of Conscience as submitted by the CSW this morning featured sufficiently measured language for me to vote for its approval. There was time to discuss only two amendments to the SOC (from three printed pages of unincorporated amendments and the unlisted amendments specific to the CSW changes) - the motion to delete a questionable statistic carried; the motion to replace lines 15-20 with alternate wording failed, to my intense relief - as the second speaker at the "con" microphone argued, its change to the tone of the document would have been negative enough to force him to consider voting against the SOC.

Our delegation [*] was divided 3-3 on both the vote to refer the issue back to the CSW for one more year. I disagreed with the reasons cited for the referral, but felt an additional year of study and review would not be amiss, but was not unhappy with the report as it stood and harbored some fear that the Commission would take the motion as a mandate to incorporate more accusatory language - so, although I voted for the deferral, I was not displeased when the motion failed to carry.

We also split 3-3 for the runoff vote between "Human Rights and Peace" and "Criminal Justice and Prison Reform" as the Study/Action issue for the next two years. The "Criminal Justice" proposal was backed by the Youth and Young Adult Caucus and came in third in our congregational vote ("Peace" was first; "Aging," ranked second, did not make it to the GA ballot); with other strategic considerations in account, I felt that it was the best choice (it was pointed out that the 2005 GA will be held in Ft. Worth, and to work on the SOC in Texas would be rather appropriate in several respects (its reputation for executions was mentioned at least twice by delegates advocating its adoption)).

Over the course of the meeting, I learned that the delegate sitting next to me is an excellent note-taker and exceptionally well-versed in parliamentary procedure (note to self to keep this in mind next spring when the nominating committee puts out its box) - she even started tracking the gender of the delegates speaking when it became apparent that most of the speakers lined up at the "con" microphone were men, whereas the line behind the "pro" mike seemed to be more of a mix, and I looked to her for steering when things became chaotic over which question was being called. (It got bad enough that another delegate from our congregation went to the procedure mike to request a formal vote on the closure of debate).

For lunch, we headed to a Thai restaurant on Newbury Street; I subsequently caught the tail third of ""Singing Our Visions of Action, Transformation and Hope" (liked best Fred Small's performance of his "Everything Possible," then the second half of a presentation called "Race in America - Beyond Black and White" (the first half had been a talk by Frank Wu; the second half was a panel discussion; especially appreciated Manish Mishra's bluntness), then the entirety of "The Seven Principles Are Not Enough," an art and choral presentation by All Souls Tulsa (recognized a good deal of the repertoire, including Durufle's Ubi Caritas and Barnwell's "Listen"). Then met up with Kale for Persian food and ice cream and extended discussion about Judaism (as well as about minefields of conversation, Dickens and Clarke and adaptations of books into movies, serialized novels and computer monographs, and the use of border collies to control geese on golf courses); then caught some of the "Soulful Sundown" celebration at First and Second Church (Kendra Flowers, Michelle Willson and the Evil Gal Festival Orchestra) - if I hadn't been so tired (and if I'd had someplace to stow my purse - ah, the perils of travelling away from a pack), I might have joined the dancing, but I figure when you're zoning out to hard-rocking blues it's time to go grab a chai at Tealuxe and hop on the bus back to JP (last night I daydreamed my way well past my stop and had to hop on a return bus - and then overshot the stop again because nothing happened when I pressed the yellow tape to signal "Stop Requested." At least it was a pretty night for a walk).

Miscellaneous notes: Nashville is a gay destination...!? (It was one of the cities Dan Savage listed when he exhorted a frustrated teen to get herself out of West Virginia sooner rather than later.) The phrase "language of reverence isn't bothering me as much as what's reaching to my ear as a language of salvation from Sinkford and others. I am utterly mystified at why my laptop has been connecting to servers in the Hynes and (currently) in my room, but consistently fails to do so on the Newbury Street opennet. Mulling over the various caucuses for which I qualify (Young Adult, Asian/Pacific Islander), rueing the fact that tomorrow's UUJA and A/PIC business meetings both conflict with plenary), and pondering which associations I ought to be joining - or avoiding, as the case may be (so far, the people I've met from A/PIC have been very cool, but the group's affiliation with DRUUMM gives me pause (which I see from their minutes was an issue of contention at their first meeting). While I'm in agreement with some of DRUUMM's goals, I find both the name and the victim-speak offputting - I can't be the only person battling the urge to scream should they have to hear the phrase "systemic oppression" one more time (I doubt I'm even the only "person of color" present feeling that way.) Add that to the whole complex stew of limited time and energy (read: how much time and energy can I afford to divert to active participation in anti-racism activities when I would frankly devote my talents to activities not exclusively defined by race, such as worship and denominational affairs and fundraising and archival work?), wanting to support the people able and willing to articulate issues of "otherness" (for instance, the panel yesterday did a good job of explaining why Asians get so dreadfully tired of the seemingly innocuous question "Where are you from?" (because the follow-up question is all too often, "No, I meant where are you really from?" or "Where are your parents from?" and all too often it basically comes across as code for "What assumptions can I make about you?"and that gets so effing tiresome), and too much other baggage to unpack here.

Time to brush my teeth and catch the bus and then the train to the Fleet Center. Much to ponder - and I have to finish that story tonight. Off I go. . .

[*] The two senior delegates have been sitting apart from the rest of the delegation, so I don't know how they voted.

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