Ah the Holidays! Traditions that give our existence in the United States a meaning that goes beyond the words we know as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year. And meaning is so very important to the human species…We all know these dates exist in earthly time, and attached to these dates there are national as well as religious and family traditions, but reverence is definitely the central theme for them all.
Reverence is a showing of deep respect. The Holidays during November through December allow us to set aside time in our lives to dwell on this deep respect. But what or who are we to be respectful of or to? Think about this for a moment, if we secularize these special days then why would respect ever enter into any part of a holiday’s recognition or tradition? The truth is, these are holy days and the secular has no place in them.
Oh sure, Thanksgiving can be about turkey, Christmas and Hanukkah about lights and gifts, Kwanzaa about community, and New Years about starting anew. We can even give a “sinister” new meaning to them as Thanksgiving has unfortunately acquired because of our ability to associate current human progress with past human realities…Hindsight is always 20/20.
But a nation needs its traditions in order to build upon its positive communal spirit. And the best way to build a positive communal spirit is to give joy and love to our gatherings. God as the “Great Creator” is the silver lining of our most profound loss and the essence of everlasting Love. To revere God is to give the greatest gift of all which is compassion. A nation that builds upon Godly traditions is at its most compassionate. Secular traditions eventually become divisive because there is no unifying principle to humble the communal spirit. Turkeys, evergreen trees, presents, candles and ball-drops are not unifying principles!
Because God is forgiving, God is for giving. Our nation’s year-end celebrations are meaningful because God has shown us the way. May we be blessed enough to know this Love, respect it, and share it always.
Being human takes a lot of thought. We humans don’t know this until life embarks on its discontented journey…We each have our own road, and if we are thoughtful enough, we use our free will to make some good choices. These thought skills take time and practice to perfect.
Freedom enables the best use of our free will. Even if we take for granted this freedom, our free will aught to be used with ample discretion. But humans rarely understand the many boundaries that exist within life’s framework to use discretion properly which is why communities of humans have rules.
When a human breaks the smallest of community rules there is need for justice. How many of us will honestly apply this standard on a daily basis, be thoughtful about it, and understand the burden of repairing each rule we break with humility? Probably quite a few of us practice it regularly. Yet we cannot assume that everyone will. As Alexander Pope once said, “To err is human…”
Rules usually apply in family, workplace, and organized group situations. We get good practice in these settings. Penalties for rule breaking are meant to cause brief shame. Our chance for redemption is pretty high if a sincere apology is accepted and we correct ourselves through active example. Shame becomes respect in this way.
Laws, however, are much more strict. This is necessary in the broader context of human interaction because we gave up tribalism long ago…Systems of governance are used between and among towns, counties, states and nations so that all people can move about and interact peacefully. The development of laws takes time and practice, and thoughtful governments try to improve upon their implementation continually which is the basis of justice.
Currently I see many people turning to tribalism to obtain “justice”. Law and order has been eroding which undermines any form of peaceful process toward desired justice. Dignity must be bestowed upon all humans no matter their race, religion, gender, sexual preference and even job choice. Harm directed at one of us is harm to all of us. Over the past centuries humans have already done too much harm to each other in the name of justice when in actuality the ulterior motives were more or less “spiteful revenge”. Where does this spiteful revenge come from? I believe that political forces cause us to lose sight of our human capacity to be our best selves.
In our goal to seek proper justice we must use empathy and humility. Peaceful protest in the public common is a fine start, but leadership must be identified and goals must be adopted. Positive change is a result of carefully measured action steps through our democratic process, otherwise we can fall prey to tribes using vengeful tactics.
Realize this though, political leadership quite often enjoys the use of oppression and injustice through political constructivism. If your intuition suspects that your government is not working for you or your community’s best interest, you have the power to change things! It is not your government’s responsibility to make change because if it was then we would always be waiting for change…Sound familiar?
What have politicians or other people in positions of power (this can include church figures too) constructed for you? Emotional and tribal barriers are burdensome to the soul. When a politician says that they can “change the soul” of your community, watch out! That is a political construct using their will to manipulate your free will…It crushes souls and demeans the spirit. Laws are then changed to suit their purpose of power over you. They will push examples of social, gender, and racial constructs to justify their use of power to take away freedoms.
What burden does you soul and spirit carry within you? Does it reflect the barriers that exist outside of you? You are responsible for discovering the truth that sets you free…Do not delegate it to a tribe or a politician. Forgive yourself for not understanding this before, and move forward in your life in humble purpose that includes all your acquaintances. Your light will reflect onto them and harmony with each other will be achieved.
“To err is human, to forgive is Devine.” – Alexander Pope
I left my faith two years ago. Before that time I was very committed to the faith of my birth, Unitarian Universalism. Ever since my children were born I served my church in various roles: teacher, membership chair, governing board member and past president, personnel committee chair, leadership facilitator, and docent of its historic site.
Unitarian Universalism is described as a liberal religion characterized by a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning”, open to all persons, and without a creed. Long before gay marriage became legal, we affirmed this right of passage and performed many of these unions. Born out of the Judeo-Christian traditions, the faith now preaches that Love is their doctrine.
I have come to see that my church has lost its way during this time of racial upheaval and that it is trapped in today’s climate of identity politics. It started after the 2017 presidential election when the Unitarian Universalist Association began to promote the “Resistance”. During that time the Faith in Action Committee became heavily focused on social justice issues like the Black Lives Matter movement and White Privilege re-education. Now they march for the Poor People’s Campaign, everyone’s right for employment, and sustainable living wages.
The members of Unitarian Universalism have a long tradition of being inclusive and justice seeking which aligns well with the faith’s democratic governance structure. This method of “doing church” helped me to ground myself in governance models that are inclusive and sensitive to just action. These models I easily applied to my role as a city councilor, and I was able to create needed change in my community of diverse hearts and minds. However, “doing church” and “creating communities of justice” is not the same as “worship”.
Worship is the feeling and expression of reverence for a deity. One should not worship money, a privilege, or a social cause in place of God…this will cause emotional suffering when one comes to understand that the object replacing the worship of God is fallible. I see this happening in our larger cities…Government is expected to solve all of humanity’s problems. The more troubling thing is that most if not all churches now are misguided in their worship practice.
Like Jesus turning the tables of the greedy and manipulative money changers at the Temple, we must shake ourselves awake to our true purpose as caring individuals spreading the Good News that God wants us all to know; our Creator loves us and our prayerful good deeds lead directly to Him. This would be my church and my proudest affiliation. Does this worship experience exist for me here on earth without racial creeds or social justice dogma? Like Jesus, each of us must find our direct link to The ever loving God.
By all accounts George Floyd of Minneapolis was not afforded the dignity that a human being deserves during a policing situation. His killing by a police officer was unjust and reprehensible.
To make matters worse, the young people who demonstrated through acts of destruction brought the wrong attention to their cause of ending police brutality to people of color. If the pillaging of neighborhoods and city centers is justified, then be prepared for what comes next…
– communities that lack food and housing security,
– mom and pop businesses that will struggle to rebuild,
– City resources limited by insufficient funds,
– further break down in trust.
If the problem is about police brutality to people of color, then why is destruction of community the answer? It is not! Without an identified leader to communicate a cohesive and principled message of action on the issue by using peaceful means and clarity of purpose then this destruction does not end, and unfortunately anger through fear remains the only message.
There are two sides…The police department is one side, and they are represented by the local city government and their union. But who is it that comprises the other side? This other side should not be known as a “leftist fringe” group because that is not who they really are. This other side must be comprised of concerned citizens who have respect from the community members to act on behalf of their best interests.
Let me suggest a six point plan to de-escalate the present condition and create a move toward progress:
1) Select 65 Minneapolis citizens comprised of five members from each of the thirteen wards…These citizens would not be from the active leadership of government. These citizens along with a respected and trained facilitator would convene a community meeting with the Mayor and City Councilors to address police brutality concerns.
2) The agenda for this meeting would be to identify 3 measurable goals toward solving police brutality concerns and to select a committee of no more than 13 volunteers from the original 65 citizens (one person from each ward).
3) This citizen committee should identify their mission and put forward a vision.
4) A trained facilitator would work with the committee and the City Council to identify the measures of the three goals which the city would then be charged to implement.
5) Progress is assessed quarterly, and new goals are identified annually.
6) The model is repeated in every U.S. community that wants to see changes made to policing (or any other city activity) in good faith.
I guarantee that trust would be strengthened in all aspects of community life. This is a similar model that I have used within my community. It has the added benefits of teaching improved communication skills and training new community members for future leadership roles.