Sermons

Why We Do What We Do 2

Why We Do What We Do

February 02, 2014

by Ken Kidd

Good Question.

First of all, when Donna asked Sterling and me last week if I’d give the sermon and he’d be the liturgist, as we were chatting at Coffee Hour, I for one jumped at the chance. I figured it would be a great opportunity to do something unique with my godson here and with you all and I was grateful for it. (Sterling is amazing, by the way—I value his thought process and his perspective so much.)

But then last night, after a week of procrastinating gratitude and intermittent pondering on what I’d say, and figuring it would be a snap, when I finally sat down to write my very first sermon, I had to ask myself: Why DO you do what you do, Ken Kidd??? You’re writing a SERMON? And on this topic?

It’s a bit of a loaded topic, actually. What is this thing that I supposedly “do”? Who am I to talk to you about it, or think that you’d care? I mean, who CARES what I think I should be doing, and God Forbid if you think I think that what I think is good for me is good for you.

Anyway, so after I thought some more about it and navel gazed to the point of even more eleventh-hour procrastination, I asked myself “What would Sterling do?” …and so I Googled the topic.

When you type in “Why We Do What We Do” the top 5 results are all Tony Robbins. I know. Rather than dismissing these because I’ve always thought of Mr. Robbins as a late-night TV infomercial huckster, I took a look, and what I found had just enough science to interest me. According to the slightly Frankensteinian Tony: Why humans do what they do can be broken down to six basic human desires:

We do things for a feeling of reassurance.

We do things for variety.

We do things to feel unique or special.

We do things to attempt personal growth.

We do things to love and feel loved.

We do things to get a sense of service.

Our DNA is apparently hardwired that way. So. That’s pretty interesting, but then I figured I needed to break it down further, since the “We” in why we do what we do supposedly wasn’t everybody with DNA. I imagine the “Thing” that I do that Donna asked me to talk about is my volunteering for causes—some would call it activism while I prefer advocacy--that are dear to me: In this case Russia more generally, and going after the big Olympic sponsors like Coca Cola, specifically and tactically. That one Is super easy to explain, and honestly, between Sterling’s readings and the Queer Nation video that we just showed you, I think it’s pretty self explanatory. Just in case it wasn’t though:

Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime has all but declared civil war on its LGBT citizens, and many feel that this is only the beginning. While not making being gay an outright crime, in the name of patriotism and “repopulation,” through a series of recently enacted laws, Russian LGBTs are simply not safe in their own country. Their jobs are at risk, their freedom of assembly has been curtailed, they are hunted to be tortured for sport by gangs of vigilantes in what are mockingly called “safaris” (with the videos of such torture are enjoyed as popular entertainment on Youtube). In all likelihood, right after the Olympics end on the 23rd of this month, a legislative bill that would take children out of LGBT households will be brought up again. This is not just hyperbolic conjecture, since the bill was brazenly brought up when the controversy about Russia and Sochi had just started to get worldwide attention this past fall, and it should be remembered that the current Russian anti-gay “propaganda” laws passed the DUMA unanimously, 436-0, with only one abstention.

Despite all this mounting evidence, which includes doubletalk by Putin himself in interview after interview, followed by chilling action by his highest ranking officials as they further dismantle the apparatus for free speech and open news reporting in the country, and even after folks like my beloved Queer Nation brought these injustices to light, EVEN AFTER THE GROWING THREAT OF TERRORISM IN THE REGION, the IOC and its sponsors—and the participating nations—chose to turn a deaf ear and push forward with the Sochi spectacle, the first subtropical Winter Olympics, a project plagued with corruption and graft, in a country that defies the Charter set out by the Olympics as a peacemaking tool, chapter and verse. ALSO, Just quickly, for the record: for anyone that is still fooled by the title of the bill “anti-propaganda to minors”, let me just tell you that whatever the bill is named, its impact is on the civil and human rights of LGBT Russian ADULT citizens.

Why we protested against the Olympics, and ‘those poor athletes’? Simple, because they were happening and there was nothing we could do to stop them and they presented such a defining moment of opportunity to create actual change in this world: a convergence of art, sport, international affairs, and commerce all coming together on the WorldWide stage, brought to you by every network on the globe with a camera to bring into focus these unacceptable human rights violations. And not just in Russia, but in the other 76 countries with heinous LGBT rights records and yes, even here in the United States. Because if we can take Putin to task for it, we must hold stronger leaders accountable. In some ways, we have been successful—it was our mission to steal the story so that any time an Olympian is interviewed, gay rights is addressed. Any article about Sochi now speaks of Putin and his human rights violations.

Let’s face it, at this point, except for some freaky fringes of the radical religious right, some of whom who have their own blame in this, Putin is universally considered a bad guy now. And he’s considered a bad guy because he hates the gays. That, my friends is a huge BIG DEAL. It’s just different than it’s ever been.

We have also put all of the Olympic sponsors on notice that their brands will be forever tarnished unless they make a pro-LGBT, pro-diversity statement, and while many of them have been quite wishy washy SO FAR, they are noticeably on notice. Queer Nation stole social media campaigns out from under McDonald’s and Coke last week that they had worked on for years and spent many millions on—so impressive was this that Stuart Elliot devoted his Advertising column in the New York Times to it this week, and articles in Ad Age, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, and reporting by Reuters and the Associated Press followed. Coke—the largest Olympic sponsor since 1928-- has a multi-Multi-million dollar Olympic-themed ad budget they have completely run away from in North America.

Examples: Seen a Coke snowboard or skating ad on top of a New York taxi or an ad in a supermarket for a Coke sweepstakes to Sochi? How about Olympic rings on any Coke-branded cans or bottles? The answer is no, and that money is already spent, commercials ready to roll. Advertisers pay attention to that and there will be effects for the better because of it. In fact, when you’re watching the Super Bowl today, watch for the Coke advertising. Reliable sources tell me that you’ll see an image or two that will remind you of a rainbow.

So, as far as targeting goes, that’s WHY ‘we’ do that part of what we do, and you folks have been an amazing part of That We. I cannot begin to thank you enough for that.

So now, finally, about the “We”. Why I “we”.

I function so much better as a “we” than an “I”. Take the letter itself: Capital I: Stands alone, straight up and erect all the time, causing attention to itself, the subject of sentences and ego-driven rants.

When I go into my head about “I”, or the voices in my head talk to “I” about “I” it’s usually:

I can’t possibly do that.

I need that (which really means that I just want it).

I should be doing…..

I shouldn’t be doing…..

I am nothing but…, I will die alone, I used to have…, I wish…, I deserve better (my I is schizophrenic, by the way), If only I…

You get the idea. That I-guy gets exhausted.

But when I join other I’s to become a WE, and practice the simple act of trying the Golden Rule—in this case the Global Golden Rule, my capital I shrinks down to lower case. It doesn’t have to stand on its own. It enjoys being in the middle of something bigger. It becomes the little “I” randomly sprinkled in words like:

Community

Activism

Charity

Collective

Faith

Write—as in sign a petition (more words with little I-s) or write your legislature (there’s another one!)

And “R-I-G-H-T” not only as in right vs. wrong, but as in exercising my right to free speech and my right to assembly and to love and to be loved and all of those things that my Russian brothers and sisters—and so many more—cannot do.

So that’s why “I” do what I “do.” But also, because when I join others, my humble “I” turns into another letter entirely, a magnificent letter. It turns into----(Reveal)

An “S.”

Amen.

 
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