This afternoon a committee of the Houston City Council heard feedback on a proposed Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance. (You can see some of the #WeNeedAHero conversation on Twitter. Also #HOUEquality.)
Yes, one of the largest cities in America does not yet have such an ordinance. But we're working on it. At least two Unitarian Universalist ministers and several other clergy spoke for the ordinance, calling for fairness and justice. Other clergy (and lay people) spoke against the ordinance with other religious arguments, and there were plenty of other arguments.
It was not always the easiest of things to listen to.
Aside from the obvious "How can you be so disrespectful?" and "Stop with the CHOICE talk!" mutterings at my desk, one of my biggest growls came when a gentleman told the city council that they should get back to what they were elected for--the budget. And potholes.
OF COURSE an equal rights ordinance has fiscal considerations for our city. And that's why the business organizations and realtors sent people to speak in favor of it. For now I'm going to set that piece aside.
But potholes? Talk about being mired in the details.
This insistence on the minutiae is not just self-serving. It is distraction, making real change nearly impossible.
What would it take to really give our leaders permission to lead, to do the jobs we elected/ordained/hired them to do?
As a Unitarian Universalist, I am called to be in covenantal relationship. To respect the people around me, and to work with them. To begin with some assumption of good will. Egad, you mean I need to TRUST them?
And wait--you're saying that it's not just about me? My pothole might need to take a back burner to helping hundreds of thousands of people? Or even just ONE person, in a life-or-death situation...
As communities, we need to experience loving discourse and build trust with one another. We need to be okay with different people taking roles on things important to them, and recognize that many have special expertise--let them have a little authority already!
We need to realize that we can build great things together, rather than trampling each other's dreams with petty criticisms.
Rev. Erika Hewitt has a lot more to say on this, far more eloquently than I have here--Tom Schade has put it up on his blog, and I highly recommend the read.
Because beloved community takes so much more than a smooth commute.