Friday, May 29, 2015

"the most holistic and accessible movement for radical transformation"

"Unitarian Universalism should be the most accessible and holistic movement for the radical  transformation of our culture."

Start with the goal: we want the radical transformation of our culture. Just read our Seven Principles; they are a description of a social order that is very opposite of what we got: a democratic world community of justice, equity and compassion, peace, liberty and justice. We've wanted that for decades; there are strains within us that have wanted it for centuries.

There are many organizations who share those goals; but they are not like us. The progressive organizations and networks in this country are usually small bands of professional staffers who lobby, litigate, campaign and fundraise off a passive membership on a mailing list. Most have no public meetings and are almost impossible to participate in with your body. Even political parties have very little actual activity going on. People can't reach them.

We are accessible: we have 1000 organizations who conduct weekly events open to the public. They are all across the country, in most cities and and many towns. While some have poor practices of welcoming and strong cultural traditions that can be off-putting to some, we are learning to be more welcoming.

We have 1600 professional religious leaders who perform public acts and are a strongly trained, vetted, leadership body.

We are a holistic movement. We are for every age, every lifestage, every level of commitment, and concerned with every issue in people's lives. The people in our movement visit the sick, teach progressive values to children, study together, companion each other in times of grief, befriend each other, make music and art together, and participate in social movements together. There is room for the child, the young family, the midlife person, the young adult, the elder.

We are a holistic movement. We recognize that the society we live in defined by a series of interlocking and intersecting oppressions and systems of exploitation. Because our work for the last decades has been about welcoming people into our congregation, we understand intersectionality and the range of oppressions that people suffer.

And most of all, we are holistic in our work. We understand that social justice and personal transformation and spiritual growth are all connected. Social justice is not achieved just by external political struggles. Participation in social movements requires internal work, facing up to one's own social position and presumptions. It requires a willingness to change oneself. And we know that to engage in that kind of internal work requires a spiritual foundation: a looser grip on the ego, a willingness to be confessional and vulnerable, a faith in forces and powers not under our control and which we can only dimly perceive. And that spiritual depth is built and fostered by the practice of worship, song and word, and deep speech, together. We know that social and cultural transformation happens through Love, by people who have opened themselves to Love and can Love others in return.

This should be our vision of the next stage of Unitarian Universalism.

by Tom Schade

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