On our first day of training, we student assistants were given staff name tags, ID cards to give us platform access, REALLY attractive blue smocks, and instructions: we may not accessorize these symbols with pins, scarves, or T-shirts from any advocacy groups. As representatives of the GA we must appear neutral. Difficult as this is, I understand, and I now appreciate what it does socially -- conservatives don't IMMEdIATELY look at me askance.
Last night my job was to run pc-biz Session Sync, a computer program that allows commissioners and observers alike to be updated on the business before us in real time. To do this I was seated ON STAGE (!) and sans smock, to be in plain view of the assembly. I sat there through assembly actions on Arizona's SB 1070, on our marriage/civil union taskforce's report, and through the completion of unfinished business on G-6.0106b's ordination standards. Being of plain view, of course, my neutrality was of even heavier importance. No raised fists (as i could do backstage), no jumping for joy or consternation (as it may be), not even a sympathetic nod or visible gasp. I watched our moderators. They poker-faced it. They do have opinions, i know, but their sole job is to facilitate the conversation. They cannot sway it.
Being a very physically expressive person this was torture for me. I splurted a few tweets out to relieve some of the pressure, but mainly I tried to channel the Zen that our moderators appeared to convey. I like the challenge. And it will be so necessary for civil discourse. We do not applaud when our favorite overture is passed. We do not groan when it fails. We say silent prayers. Joy. Sorrow. Petition. Over it all, empathy.
We sang today to Christ:
Thou hast the true and perfect gentleness;
No harshness hast thou, and no bitterness.
Lord, grant to us the grace we find in Thee
That we may dwell in perfect unity.
we're far away -- but in trust we pray -- let it be so.