I am in a quandary. I have taken on the opportunity as well as task of blogging from a Unitarian Universalist perspective. Each Sunday that I preach, I also wonder what I might have to say that is significant, moving, challenging, or supportive. And, each week I somehow am inspired by events or people or nature to speak from my heart, head and soul. Whether I am effective…well, that is up to the listeners to determine.
So, my perspective on blogging will be somewhat similar. I will write about what touches me, what I feel needs to be said. I will write from my religious point of view as a minister of a progressive faith; I will speak from my religious consciousness and my belief in my moral, spiritual and ethical obligations. I will NOT be representing my congregation as a whole. Our polity (governance) is founded on the congregation having the sole right to represent itself. What I say is meant to open dialog, evoke thought, and perhaps incite action. But, I represent myself while I know that I am grounded in the Principles and Purposes of Unitarian Universalism.
UU’s (the abbreviated form of Unitarian Universalism – quite the mouthful…) are non-creedal. What that means to us is that in order to be a member of a UU congregation one need not espouse a particular set of beliefs. That does not, however, mean that we don’t believe something. As a framework for our religious community we ‘affirm and promote’ our Principles and Purposes. Over the course of my blogging I will discuss our Principles. They explain in large part who UU’s are and why we chose to live in the world the way we do.
Our first principle is one which drew me to UUism. It says that each and every person inherently has worth and deserves respect. It doesn’t say that we are entirely good nor that evil does not exist, although there are some that might interpret it that way. What it means to me is that at our core we as human beings are naturally inclined toward the positive. Asked why, if people are inclined to be good, is the world in such a mess? I respond with the fact that sometimes the negative overcomes the positive and sometimes those in power with great influence have somehow submerged the good of the whole to the good of the individual. It is, however, my world view that ultimately good will triumph and that good people will be the catalyst for that triumph.
That leads me to the concept that the good of the whole needs to trump the needs of the individual. Democracy is built on that foundation. We as a nation believe in a representative democracy. It says that the will of the people should determine what laws and regulations should be passed. It says that 1% should not determine the benefits of society. It says that money and the power that money can buy should not be the primary determinant of government policy at whatever level of government.
Democracy assumes that people are quite capable of figuring out what is appropriate policy. This goes back to the first UU Principle – the worth and dignity of every person. This principle believes we are competent, capable, and willing to make decisions and choose representatives who reflect our values and understand our needs.
I am not trying to be partisan here although the intersection of politics and religion is broad and abundant in our times. What I am trying to suggest is that no matter the political party, our representatives appear to have lost the concept of actually representing those who have elected them. Instead, they tend to represent those whose money has funded their election. So many representatives today respond to the needs of the few leaving the good of the whole in the breach.
In my humble opinion, it is time for us as moral and ethical individuals to gather together and let our elected representatives know that we can no longer support a system that caters to the wealthy and powerful at the detriment of so many. This is not a religious battle although I can frame it in religious terms. Loving one’s neighbor is the equivalent of a ‘commandment’ in most world religions. To love one’s neighbor means that one takes that neighbor’s needs into account. It means that we need to care for the poor and those who for whatever reason are down on their luck. If we do ‘for the least of these,’ we do for the greater good.
We should not assume that someone else will stand up for us; we need to be participants in our democracy. It is important to vote; to let our representatives know what we think, what we value and honestly, what we expect them to do about our issues. I may not agree with the majority of people, but it is my belief that in the end the majority will get it right. Democracy assumes participation; our moral and ethical principles also demand participation. If we want a world of peace and justice and love, then it is our responsibility to work toward that – together – as worthy and worthwhile people.