Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sharing Across the Ages

Carol Howard Merritt, author of Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation explains that when she works with intergenerational groups she often asks people to consider the following questions:
 “What sort of political, religious, economic, and social movements defined your generation? What events did your generation go through that made you who you are?”
This blog post is what I expect to be the first in an indefinite series of responses to those questions.  I hereby issue an invitation to any member or friend of the church who wishes to write to those questions to do so and send them to me for posting here on the TallahasseeUU.  I’ll also be asking people of all ages to take time to write their responses. 
Robin Gray responds:
I was born not so many years after WWII ended.  Lingering distrust of Germans and Japanese prompted our church to bring to America young adults from those countries.  A young German woman stayed with my family for a few weeks one year, and our congregation brought a young Japanese woman to work with the children’s program.  Still, the neighbors down the street, who were Jewish, shuddered at the thought of the little German car, the Volkswagon, that was gaining popularity in the U.S.  Seeking healing from that war, one I didn’t remember, was a recurring theme. 
We were not fettered by austerity during the post-war years.  A VA loan made it possible for my parents to buy a house, and with that a piece of the American dream. My mother didn’t work outside the home until I was in my teens, and my father’s one income with lots of overtime took care of our needs.  
The Korean Conflict, as it was called, spanned my early youth.  Then, it was replaced by the Civil Rights struggle down South (I was a Northerner, born and bred).  The struggle was chronicled on the evening news: children set upon by dogs, hoses turned on peaceful protesters. The same freedoms for which my parents generation fought WWII were denied to countless American citizens.  Watching a black and white TV, we witnessed a deep travesty of justice, anathema to the liberal Christians like us, but, it seemed that half the country didn’t care. 
The assassinations of four leaders representing change and progress ushered me in and out of high school.  President John F. Kennedy.  Martin Luther King, Jr.  Malcolm X. Robert Kennedy.  From my perspective the American people had been cheated out of a brighter future with each death. 
In those years, the war in Vietnam flickered onto the stage, bringing with it nightly newscasts of death and destruction. The Cold War cast its own pall on America’s future, and fear of Soviet missiles crept into classrooms. The student protests against the war in Vietnam swirled around me in college.  I was opposed to the war, and opposed to the tactics of the opposition.  
While my life was full of potential -- I was getting a good education after all -- I couldn’t muster up much patriotism for my homeland.  I’d grown up thinking that the wounds of WWII had been addressed in many ways, but, I couldn’t see evidence that the wounds inflicted by war in Korea and Vietnam were being addressed in any helpful way.  And, after what seemed a era of victories in Civil Rights, American injustices that touched every state and city festered without successful intervention.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Village of Help

Sometimes when we enter a long canvass season, asking people to make a pledge for the coming year, and then challenging them to increase that pledge -- it might seem as if the only thing the church asks of us is money.  The truth is the church asks for a lot more.
The extended canvass was just winding down this year when Anne Rudloe succumbed to her final illness.  The timing was such that Anne’s Memorial Service was scheduled on the day following a special Finance Committee meeting and a special Board meeting.  That day, Saturday, also happened to be the Church Workday.  Although the members of the Board and the Buildings and Grounds Committee had plenty to think about that day, they also all helped to coordinate extensive plans for Anne’s memorial.   
Knowing Anne as we did, and knowing the positive impact she had in the many circles of her life, we knew we had to prepare for a larger-than-average number of people coming here to honor her life.  That meant making special arrangements for parking and organizing parking volunteers.  Little did we know that it would also mean letting those volunteers get drenched while performing their duties, which came to include holding umbrellas over the guests. 
Extra chairs were moved into the Sanctuary so 180 people could be accommodated there.  The virtual sanctuary was prepared to hold another 40 people, and a final overflow space was created in one of the classrooms.  Making those spaces available called on the resources of Workday, set-up and technology volunteers.
As it is the custom of this congregation to offer a reception at the close of a Memorial Service, another host of volunteers were called upon to make food, set up the Veranda, serve beverages, and clean up after everyone left. The Veranda was the perfect setting for fellowship as the sun finally returned.  
No one counted all the attendees, but, a fair estimate suggests 210-225 people found places in the Sanctuary, at the back of the Sanctuary and in the virtual sanctuary. They were all welcomed by greeters who tried to find everyone comfortable seats. Tables of food and beverages greeted all those people at the close of the service.
This is one of the additional things our church asks of us -- to provide hospitality to those who mourn, to make our sanctuary their sanctuary, to provide comfort in times of need.  
No one took a full accounting of everyone who helped...but, there were about ten people working at dozens of tasks on Saturday morning, and forty-six people supported the efforts on the day of Anne’s Memorial Service.  A village of over fifty people, working in concert to make of a Memorial Service the very thing it needed to be...welcoming, hospitable, and a safe place to mourn, remember and reconnect.  This is some of what our church asks of us. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chalice Lighting for Pride Service

Our sanctuary was packed on April 17, when representatives of eleven faith groups and combined choirs from UUCT and Temple Israel shared in a moving service for Pride 2012. The theme was 'radical inclusion.'  Below you will find the chalice lighting Carl Sherrod and I offered to open the service, it is adapted and expanded from words by William F. Schulz.
This is the mission of our faith: 
To teach the fragile art of hospitality.
The fragile art includes more than welcoming the stranger, but, being present to the needs of men, women, and children in their triumphs and their pain.  The fragile art of hospitality is symbolized by the bowl of our chalice which gathers us into a circle of common caring.
This is the mission of our faith;
To revere both the critical mind and the generous heart.
The expanding search for truth creates both doubt and faith; and we strive to welcome each in our midst.  The generous heart jumps the chasm between believers and unbelievers, young and old, gay and straight seeking only to know the inherent worth in all.  The refining fire of thought and the passion of non-judgemental love are called forth in the flame we light.
This is the mission of our faith:
To prove that diversity need not mean divisiveness.
As the chalice is composed of several parts, stem, bowl and fire; so too we are called to recognize that our differences enhance our abilities, for without the unique role played by every person in our communities and outside them as well, we would lose more than ever we would gain.
This is the mission of our faith:
To witness to all that we must hold the whole world in our hands.  
Our witness is met in action for all that we find to be right, good and true. We call ourselves to ‘stand on the side of love’ whenever and wherever human beings are oppressed.  The need for each and every one to be a witness is symbolized by the stem of the chalice which holds our light like a beacon reminding us that all humanity is one. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What do Sex, Science and Religion Have in Common?

A religion can't make it, without one thing--mystery.  Humans desperately seek out mystery.  No where is this fascination with mystery more evident than in four fundamental aspects of the human experience: sex, stories, science and religion.
First off, sex. Cognitive developmental psychology explains that one of the mechanisms that drives the formation of our sexual attractions is an affinity for difference (I’m told this is true for homosexuals as well).    We look for differences and are drawn to them.  We seek out mystery in romance. Mystery lights up our brains and our romance.
Stories. Why do we spend billions and billions and billions on movies, books and TV?  We "just gotta know how it ends!"  We despise and yet are addicted to cliffhangers.  Good writers know it's often what you don't say, don’t show that is more important than what you do say--the monster you never see, the whodunit, the love that may or may not find consummation.  
Science.  Some of science is solving practical problems so we can fix everyday problems, but a huge portion of science has been and always will be just because we're curious--mysteries of consciousness and how the brain works, the uttermost stretches of outer space, the inner workings of the quantum realm, the pageantry of our planet's evolutionary history.  Each unanswered question draws a deep part of ourselves that wants to find out; to search and not just to obtain.
Religion's no different.  German theologian Rudolph Otto gave us the term 'mysterium tremendum' to describe the sense of 'holy' or 'god', a 'tremendous and terrible mystery' that we desperately seek out in life to worship.  Our religious preoccupation with the mysterious abounds in the form or paradoxes and secret knowledge in religion--the nature of the Trinity, the path to Enlightenment, the paradox of free will, the duality of spirit and matter, prophecy, secret incantations, hidden codes, the list continues. 
Einstein said it best: 
"The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious.  It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.  ...It was the experience of mystery--even if mixed with fear--that engendered religion.  A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms--it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.” 
Mystery inspires, inflames, enlivens, seduces, captivates, fascinates, terrifies and brings us to tearful awe.  Mystery is religion at its deepest core because mystery is the fundamental response of the universe to our most basic questions.  As the songwriter Iris Dement put it, 
"Everybody's wonderin' what and where they all came from.
Everybody's worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
But no one knows for certain and so it's all the same to me.
I think I'll just let the mystery be."

submitted by Lee Walton, based on his remarks at the services on March 25, 2012

Saturday, March 31, 2012

What can we say?

Everyone has something to say about the death of Trayvon Martin and the current fate of George Zimmerman. Epithets are being hurled with vigor: racist, ‘hood’lum, liberal media, gun-haters.  What can we call each other at a time like this?  A time when a young boy is dead, and we should mourn the horror of that fact.  A time when another man’s life may be sacrificed to the politics of race in America, and we should admit the horror of that fact, too.
George Zimmerman has been described as a ‘white Hispanic.’ The Huffington Post reviewed the current crisis in nomenclature which has brought that term to the fore.  Along with the phrase ‘non-white Hispanic,’ it demonstrates the ways in which the people of the United States are being fractured into smaller and smaller segments by race and ethnicity disguised as race. The phrases ‘white Hispanic’ and ‘non-white Hispanic’ are the offerings of our government census bureau. They arose in the hysteria that says we have to track ‘Hispanics’ in America, fueled by an older fear that tells us we have to know who is ‘black’ and who is ‘white.’
In this case, the phrase ‘white Hispanic’ can be used almost as a buttress against allegations that George Zimmerman is a racist.  After all, he’s ‘Hispanic’, and can be presumed to be more understanding of, or at the very least sympathetic to, the oppressions of racism in our country. As an ‘Hispanic,’ he must have suffered some of those oppressions himself.  On the other hand, if he’s ‘white’ and not ‘black’ then he can be presumed to be a racist, who pursued Trayvon Martin as any ‘white-racist’ would. George Zimmerman loses on either side of the argument...either he’s a racist or he’s a member of an ethnic group subject to racism.
Of course, everyone knows that Trayvon Martin was black, not bi-racial, nor any other term that might indicate mixed ethnicity in his heritage.  In America it doesn’t matter whether his antecedents arrived from Haiti or Ghana, France or Ethiopia...or even Brazil or Spain.  What matters is that the predominant color of his skin allows him to be categorized as ‘black.’  Perhaps that’s better than having to be described as ‘non-white.’ Perhaps not. Trayvon Martin lost his life, and his right to be ‘just a human being’ because he lived and died in America.
What can we call each other at a time like this?  Confused. Frightened. Fractured. Torn apart from one another (and our own emotions) by attitudes toward race that have wormed their way into all our lives.  And, we can call each other to account.
-- Rev. Robin Gray                      
(To learn more about the ways racism plays out in our society begin reading The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander and join the book discussion at UUCT -- sign up this Sunday.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Network of Family

Melinda Stuart-Tilley shares how much this congregation and its people mean to her....

If the time and passion that we give is indicative of our love for something, then my family and I love this church tremendously. I’ve calculated that in the four years since we began attending UUCT we have been here an average of fifty Sunday mornings per year, spending about three to five hours at church on those days. This does not include, of course, committee meetings, board meetings, leadership trainings, social functions, classes, fundraisers, play groups, retreats, and all other kinds of events throughout the church year in which we participate. Last night I slept in a sleeping bag right there on the floor behind the piano bench, and that was not far from where my husband and I were married. 
So what does this church mean to me? Some might even wonder what a Trinitarian Christian, like me, would be doing at a Unitarian Universalist church. Perhaps I made a wrong turn when we were driving down Meridian Road one day and I just decided to stay and set up camp here! What else would compel a pregnant woman to sleep on the floor, right? What would compel any person here to give countless hours of their time, as many of you have, and then after working those hours and being here on Sunday morning...and then, after doing all that for free, turn around and to give your hard-earned money to this place? In the present world of greed, this is crazy talk.
But why come to church at all? Why come to a place that demands so much of our precious time? Why come to a place that won’t make you rich, or sexy, or even popular? We are here because this is our family. We are here because the connections we have made here nurture and sustain us. We are here because this is the beloved community talked about by Josiah Royce and because it needs all of us as members as much as we need it. We are also here because my husband and I wanted our children to grow up surrounded by this big, loving family. Last week my two-year-old daughter was in tears because we told her that we were not going to church that morning, we were taking Daddy to work. And she was bawling, “I want to go to church!” Our children walk around here as if this were their second home, because it is, and you all are their extended family. 
But like any family, we cannot live on love alone. It takes many hours of hard work, and it takes our money to make the vision happen. During the canvass we look to what the church means to each of us, how we contribute to it, and how we participate in it. What opportunities can we provide? What social justice outreach can we do? How will we compensate our dedicated, experienced, professional staff? Our pledges pay for everything from the markers in the classrooms to our mission in the world. I think Homer Simpson was right; the ‘offering basket is a place to make change.’
Ask yourselves, what does this church mean to you and your families? Church is the home of our collective family. When you walk through those doors, you are home. And we are not called to be extraordinary people to do this; but we are ordinary people called to do extraordinary things.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Do What You Are Good At

Recently, Greg DeAngelo shared his thoughts on supporting our congregation, passing along a little advice from a friend.  

"When I committed to regular attendance at UUCT, a little over nine years ago, it was important to me to be a supporting friend, rather than a member. I had been unsatisfied with the religious answers and dogmatic positions of my former church for some time. While I felt very much at home at UUCT, I did not feel like being a "member" of this church or any other.
Even in those years, however, when I placed great value on my "independent" status, I felt it was important to provide financial support to the church. I believed in its mission. I found a set of principles that I could get behind. I marveled at a church that promised to question my answers. And above all, I valued that there was a structure here for accomplishing good, for promoting justice, for alleviating hunger, and pain, and isolation, and that structure was available to all.
I became a member for the same reasons that I continue to pledge every year—a desire to make my investments more socially responsible, and a need to follow the advice of our painter Pepper, who said, "Do what you're good at." Let me explain…
I had been a dutiful saver for most of my professional life. But pinning my future retirement on the success of tobacco companies and firearms manufacturers just seemed wrong. Switching to socially responsible investments and green funds let me go about my business without that little nagging prod in the back of my head.
I view giving to UUCT in much the same way. Giving to UUCT is one of my socially responsible investments. Giving to the church provides me with much the same sense of relief that I get when I know my money is going to support causes I believe in.
Now, about Pepper the painter. We had hired him to put some color on our interior walls, and we marveled at how he was effortlessly applying paint without masking tape, drips, or smudges. I remember he got a bit upset after getting one dollop of paint on his otherwise spotless white coveralls. We were discussing hiring him for our simpler rooms versus doing the painting ourselves, and he remarked, "Do what you're good at." Paraphrasing, he told us to focus our time and effort and money on things we know how to do and enjoy. We're not painters, we don't like painting, we're not very good at it, so why would we consider doing something else?
Now, not everyone is comfortable being a greeter. Not everyone has the physical abilities to move furniture or cut grass. Not everyone is good at or enjoys committee meetings, local politics, cooking meals, singing, advocacy, writing editorials, giving sermons, teaching kids, writing newsletters, or any of the dozens of activities that go on here to support our shared mission.
"Doing what you're good at" implies "doing what you can." And part of that, yes, includes giving money.
Not everyone can give a lot, but everyone can give some. Pledging is the most concrete way possible to show our mutual support for each other.  When you give, you aren't giving to some nebulous other, some entity called "the church." You are investing in yourself, and in your friends, and in these buildings where we meet and live and learn and grow. You are investing in this community, which can accomplish together what none of us could accomplish on our own."

Friday, March 16, 2012

A New Home and A Moral Center

Christy Shannon offered these thoughts to kick off our canvass:
Only one year ago Mark and I were happily living in Rockville.  I was teaching math at a local high school.  Mark had worked for eight years at the Germantown office.  We both had family nearby and were active in our local UU church.  
In late February of last year, Mark was offered a chance to open a new office in Tallahassee.  One of my first questions was “Is there a UU church there?”  During Mark’s first visit, he drove by this church and took a picture for me.  When Mark and I came up together a month later to make our final decision, we came here for a Sunday service.  We immediately felt the warmth of this community.   As some of you know, we literally moved in next door.  
Once we actually moved here and started getting involved in the church, I mentioned to several folks that I had been involved in the Canvass in my previous church.  Three different folks said the same thing, “Shhhhh, if you aren’t careful, you’ll get dragged into helping with the canvass here!”  I appreciated their concern, but I WANT to be involved in the canvass.  I know that lots of folks shy away from talking about money.  I must admit that I don’t enjoy it, but I appreciate this church and this staff too much to let a little discomfort get in the way of doing something as important as ensuring that this church is here.  
However, this church is more than just my new community.  This church is also the moral center of many of our lives.  My Unitarian Universalist faith is important me and I consider it my religion.  Coming to church regularly, reminds me of my better self and helps me be a better person.  I meet people here that are doing so much good and it always inspires me to try to do better.  
As an UU,  I believe people are good and this helps me to be a better high school teacher. I love teaching and particularly reaching out to my students to teach math, but also to model how to treat each other.  The vast majority of these students treat me with respect every day.  However, there are some students will be impressively rude to me on occasion.  Some students are consistently rude.  My UU faith reminds me that since I know they are good people, then I also know that they are rude for one of two reasons.  Either they are scared they aren’t smart enough to do what I’m asking, or they are hurting from something in their home lives or social lives.  
My faith helps me to reach out instead of lash out.  It helps me to stay open even when I’m hurt and want to close off.  My faith has helped me reach some students who are really struggling and I continue to be humbled when they are share with me their fears and dreams.
I hope that you can see that I’m happy to be here.  I am so grateful that you were here waiting for us.    Thank you.  Please help me ensure this church has a strong budget so this church can continue to reach out to folks that need some more blessings in their lives, too. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

An Opportunity Missed

In the middle a recent rainstorm, I answered my door to find two young men, neatly dressed in black and wearing name tags identifying them as members of a Christian church.  I didn't notice what church; I just registered the words “Jesus Christ” on the tags.
My personal-sized lunch pizza was awaiting me in the oven and these two young guys were standing under one umbrella in a rainstorm.  With a smile on my face, I quickly gave my standard spiel.  Something like: “I respect your religion, but you don't want to talk to me.  I'm a Unitarian Universalist.  I don't believe Christ was the son of God, but a revolutionary rabbi.  And I think God just might be a woman.” This latter usually sends them scurrying.
The two earnest young men were not deterred. They continued to smile, and the oldest asked if I had time to talk to them because he really would like to hear more from me.  I told them I really didn't have time.  "Could I come back another more convenient time?" he asked.  For a moment, I wavered, but by then could smell my pizza charring at the edges.  "Sorry," I said.  "You two need to get out of the rain."  Then, I closed the door.
It was not too many minutes later that I came to regret my decision.  If I had possessed the missionary zeal of my visitors, I would have asked them in, invited them to share my charred pizza, and talked to them about what I believe and why.   I would have engaged them in a dialogue about their beliefs.  And, I would have just possibly dispelled some negatives beliefs of theirs about non-Christians.  
And, then, I had another thought. Would I be willing to go out on a stormy day and knock on strangers' doors to talk to them about my beliefs?  Yes, of course, we Unitarian-Universalists don't proselytize. But, do I have the same dedication to my beliefs as those two young men?  Do I share their zeal?
I'm not sure I know the answer to those questions. But, I wish I hadn't passed up the opportunity to reach out beyond our church walls to communicate with those two rain-soaked strangers. I bet it would have been an interesting conversation.
                                                                                                                  submitted by Pat Curtis

Saturday, March 3, 2012

To the Tallahassee Democrat

The Rev. Robin Gray

Join clergy in asking Publix to aid workers

More than 12 Tallahassee clergy from diverse faith traditions are working in concert to raise community awareness about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which is asking Publix to join the growing list of markets supporting Fair Food.

During a noon news conference on Tuesday, these clergy will present Publix representatives in Tallahassee with an open letter recounting Publix’s historical stand as a fair employer and inviting the company to take a stand as purveyors of fair food.

In this instance, the cost of treating tomato pickers fairly amounts to a penny a pound of tomatoes. One pound in the thousands and thousands of pounds of tomatoes picked by hand, moved from field to truck by human labor, and eventually delivered to shoppers who enjoy, along with their neighbors, some of the healthiest produce the world has known.

The ad hoc coalition of clergy came together because we share a commitment to helping create a more just world, a world where each person’s labor is appreciated with the simple reward of a living wage.

As clergy, although our beliefs differ, we share a common compassion for people we know as well as those we may never meet. We see ourselves connected to all by humanity, faith and hope.

We extend ourselves in compassion to the leaders at Publix, the workers in Publix markets and the laborers in the fields. We cannot see any of the people in that chain deserving less fair treatment than others. We cannot see any corner of humanity where justice might not reach.

We join with thousands of others in asking Publix to extend the scope of compassion and to bring justice more fully to our supermarkets, our tables and our meals with support of the Fair Food agreement.”

— published in the Tallahassee Democrat, 3/03/2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

Prayer in Schools?

03/02/12 8:17 AM

To the Honorable Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda;

Thank you so much for speaking against and voting against the 'inspirational message' bill.  I believe that by your actions you are helping to promote religious freedom in Florida.  The Tallahassee Democrat said it all in a headline entitled "Florida House Debates Prayer." In the article the Democrat noted that legislators soon dropped the facade of the 'inspirational message' and began talking about prayer.  'Prayer' is an activity common to Islam, Judaism and Christianity; but neither it, nor it's thinly disguised neighbor - the inspirational message, are common to all the faith traditions represented in Florida.  In that regard alone your opposition supports expanding religious freedom.  In addition, there are a growing number of people in Florida and all of the United States, who identify with no religious tradition at all;  some identify themselves humanists, some atheists.  I believe that our public schools should protect each child's right to belief or unbelief by avoiding all attempts to fit prayer into schools, even when it is called an 'inspirational message.' Thank you again for speaking against Bill 8827  and in favor of the constitutional protections afforded all Americans.  Rev. Robin Gray

Thursday, March 1, 2012

UU Legislative Ministry

UUCT also hosted the statewide UU Legislative Ministry this month with both dinner and program.   A big THANK YOU to Barbara Sterling who organized it and to  Mimi Jones who was key presenter.    UUCT members Brian Lee, Carl Sherrod, and Tom Moore also spoke and provided critical information to the attendees.   It was great that the expertise needed for prepping the UU Legislative Visits was available through members at our own church.

A million thanks to Len Adams for assisting with clean up and to those visiting UUs for jumping in to put tables away and set up chairs. -- Carolyn Pardue

Appreciation for Volunteers

Thank you so much to Elinor Elfner, Susan Snyder, Kate Blizzard, Ron & Eileen Patrick, Patty Badlands, and Michele Hope and Jerry Lawrence  for all their work to bring UUCT a coffee and social hour following both services.

Thanks to virtual sanctuary attendees Nancy Harvey and Jim Stangel for making sure coffee got to the virtual sanctuary and pots were returned.

Thanks to Carl Sherrod for getting coffee up to Community Forum group and pots returned. 
- Carolyn Pardue

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Shortest Route

There's something in human nature that wants to take the shortest route between two points.  That makes perfect sense when cutting across a field, and no sense at all when riding on surface roads that have been laid out with engineered precision.  But, we see the effects of 'shortest route' actions all the time.  Instead of going around the block to approach an imminent right hand turn from the proper lane, I've seen people cut across three or more lanes of traffic to get to the turning lane.  Sometimes that 'shortest route' results in a collision and multiple injuries.

It seems we often like to take the 'shortest route' in our thinking as well. How many times have you heard undocumented workers referred to as 'illegals.'  Not even illegal immigrants or people without green cards -- just 'illegals.'  I've read the word 'illegals' in media accounts, heard it on talk shows, and in personal conversations, too.   Admittedly it takes more time to reference 'people who are undocumented workers,' or 'the children of undocumented residents,' or immigrants without documentation.  But, this 'shortest route' doles out injuries every time it is used.  It turns people into 'criminals' with one word.  It ignores the dignity of the human beings referred to and short-changes their intentions.  Most of the people we've learned about in the course "Immigration as A Moral Issue" exemplify the phrase 'undocumented workers'.  They are working as many hours a week as they can at poorly paid jobs, hoping to support family members in the U.S. as well as family members back home where a lack of jobs makes it impossible to reach for the dignity of working for wages.

In this case, taking the 'shortest route' also does damage to people using the phrase.  It allows them to think they've captured the essence of an extremely complex problem in one word.  It allows them to place themselves in the category 'legal' without considering the long journey their forebears took to grant them that status.

The shortest route can be lovely when traversing a field of daisies, but, it can be an impediment to reasoned thought and debate when applied to complicated issues.  - Robin Gray