Sunday, March 30, 2014

Why the United Church of Christ?

This past weekend I had the honor and pleasure of attending the annual meeting of the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ.  It was a mixture of laughter and tears, education, reacquainting with old friends and making new ones.  Most of all, it was a time of witnessing how the Holy Spirit is moving throughout our denomination in support of social justice.

I am humbled by the lengths our clergy and lay people go to in support of immigration reform, the poor and the LGBT community.  Promoting Marriage Equality in Arizona is one of our conference's goals for 2014 and a goal they will continue to pursue until it has been accomplished.

On Saturday, I listened to the pastors and members of Church of the Good Shepard UCC in Albuquerque, NM share their experiences in support of marriage equality in New Mexico.I've included the link to that panel discussion and encourage you to take time to view it.  Keynote Address on Marriage Equality.

One think that was stressed throughout the weekend, is that you cannot underestimate the power of our straight allies.  In fact, we can't win this battle without our straight allies, including and especially those clergy who stand with us, not because they have to, not because they need to, because they believe it is the right thing to do and God has moved them to stand with us.

Maybe like many of our LGBT brothers and sisters, you have been hurt by organized religion, have sworn against the conservative religious right, sworn never to have anything to do with church ever again.  If so, I'm an deeply sorry for your pain and I understand.  However, if you should encounter members of the UCC at Pride or other LGBT venues, remember, these are your friends, no matter who you are, no matter where you are on life's journey.  Should you ever find yourself in a position where you need a religious friend or other support, look for the Comma, rainbow or red, and know that you are welcome here.

God is still speaking, to everyone, not just the chosen few.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Few Words of Advice to Scooter Riders

Earlier this week a man on a scooter was killed hit by a young driver turning into a fast food place.  There were a number of contributing factors surrounding this incident including the reported fact that the young driver was unlicensed and that the vehicle he was driving may have been stolen.  While those are definitely issues that need to be addressed during the police investigation, that's not what I would like to address.

My focus today is on scooters, those small 49cc things you see all kinds of people riding around on these days.  Scooters, like motorcycles, are a great way of getting where you need to go as well as being fuel efficient.  Unfortunately, many people do not realize that these scooters are just as hazardous as motorcycles, if not more so.  What's that, you're thinking?  How can they be that dangerous?  They only go 25-35 mph!

Many, not all, motorcyclist go through some sort of training and pass a test at the DVM before getting out on the streets.  This is not the case with the majority of scooter riders.  Next time you pass one on the street take a moment to look at the rider.  They are men and women of all ages, often dressed in work or school clothes, sometimes shorts & flip flops.  Rarely will you see a scooter rider wearing a helmet, much less a protective jacket or gloves.  While it is true that you will also see motorcyclists wearing the same things, motorcycle riders know and understand the risks that they take.  They understand that going down at 25 mph can be just as devastating as going down at 55 mph, as a result, most dress for the fall not the ride.

Judging by the way the majority of scooter riders dress and ride, it appears that they do not consider buzzing down the street at 35 mph dangerous.  When  my daughter rode a scooter, we made sure she always wore a helmet, jacket and gloves.  We also spent a great deal of time teaching her how to ride safely, be aware of her surroundings and avoid hazards in traffic.  We rode with her, giving her feedback and pointers on her riding.  We did this because we love her and we wanted her to be as safe as possible.

As a motorcyclist, I can't tell you how many times I have heard, after an accident, "the driver said he never saw him [motorcyclist]".  Now, imagine a scooter next to any motorcycle that you are familiar with, odds are that motorcycle is considerable larger than the scooter.  So, if drivers don't see a motorcycle which is significantly larger, they are even more likely to miss seeing a scooter.

Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to discourage scooter riders.  In fact, I think it is awesome that so many people are getting out there and getting their knees in the breeze, regardless of the speed.    I just don't want them buzzing around thinking people are watching for them and thinking they are safe.  Because you aren't, the only person looking out for you is YOU.

Be aware of your surroundings, assume no one sees you, even when you have the right of way, sometimes it's best to yield. Wear good shoes or boots, long sleeves or a jacket and a helmet.  You can get seriously hurt, even at 25 mph.  Most of all, have fun and live to ride another day.

Keep the rubber side down.