Unitarian Universalists have a core theological tenet that we got from the Universalists. The Universalist sentiment was “God loves everybody, no exceptions.” Our kids sing it as “It’s a blessing you were born” and our principles call us to live it as “we affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”
Earth-relating and Gods-relating indigenous, family, eclectic and revivalist traditions also have similar assertions such as “an it harm none…” I see that same commitment in Shinto-infused films like “My Neighbor Totoro” and in the last two lines of the “Druids’ Prayer”: “And in that love, the love of all existences; And in the love of all existences, the love of God.” I see that same message in Santeria’s “Iwa” (moral character), an instruction to treat all creation with respect and reverence.
That theological affirmation is well and good, but it needs to be acted upon.
When I served on the board of trustees for the UU congregation in Ithaca, NY we had an “empty chair” at all meetings. An artist on the board even created a beautiful sign to hang on the chair that said “empty chair.” Our practice was to remember that the chair not only held Elijah, Reason, Love, and laughter, but also brought diversity to our council. Because the board itself didn’t hold all the diversity of human experience the chair was there to remind us to listen to people who were deaf and hard of hearing, who used walkers or wheelchairs, who didn’t fit the gender binary or whose families didn’t look like those in “Dick and Jane.”
The empty chair reminded us that people of many races, ethnicities and cultures belonged in the conversation and that the very young, very old, very poor and very rich were members of our beloved community. We kept trying to draw the circle larger. It was a good practice. As a spiritual director I still keep an empty chair in the room. It isn’t so different. This one is for divine love to occupy. As a panentheist, I am pretty thrilled at the idea that all these people, marginalized people, people who need to be heard, are also divine love incarnate. Thou art divine.
Recognizing the inherent worth of everyone requires concrete action. It can be hard to draw the circle wider. It might mean reviewing and changing some hymns or stairs or favorite foods. It might mean tolerating baby noises while you are adjusting your hearing device to hear the sermon. It might mean spending extra time grading a path to the labyrinth or letting go of gender-binary imagery for the divine and changing the rites that honor the divine.
It also means taking notice of the calls out on the streets and hospital corridors and homes in your neighborhood: requests to “stop murdering me.” People of color are killed by guns and by lack of access to education, housing, and jobs. Disabled kids are murdered by their caregivers and parents. Poor people die younger and “live sicker”. Incarcerated people experience a civic death as they are disenfranchised. Transwomen are murdered and die for lack of healthcare or simply care at soul-killing rates.
The machine that has been built, that has been allowed to be built by the inattention of the people, mows down precious lives, and destroys the souls of those who are complicit. Police officers suffer from PTSD, soldiers are trained not to feel, overwhelmed mental health workers see “problems”, not people and those who administer the dwindling safety-nets, such as SNAP and AFDC, struggle to treat their clients with respect in a system that treats them as “free-loaders” and “failures.”
I think that the shocking violence we’ve been seeing, the massacres, are a part of the same destructive process. Those who were bullied come to school to shoot the bullies, those who were othered strike out randomly at a mall, those who were colonized strike back at those who colonized, those who are trained to hate, express that hate in a church or nightclub, those who are trained to expect privilege strike back at those who they experienced as disrespectful by shooting women…
Our democracy continues to fail, operating more and more like an Oligarchy (government by the rich and powerful, for the rich and powerful.) This isn’t a very hopeful blog post. Which is completely uncharacteristic for me. (I was trained well by my nice, middle class, white, mother to see the bright side, to look for the hope, and to be cheerful at all costs.) I do see a lot of hope. I’m humbled by the reality that people of color have, almost universally avoided striking out in violence. I’m excited that my ministerial colleagues are grappling with how to live our theology. I’m blessed by the love and truth-telling from the members of my family. The divine love that sustains me holds me and reminds me that we are not alone. So, yes, I feel hope, and maybe the circumstances don’t call for cheerful, niceness. Maybe it is time for some serious magic.
The demon machine that has been created has taken on a life of it’s own. We need some powerful magic to banish the demon and restore justice, peace, and love.
The machine that has been built is rolling over all of us, though some of us are able to still be in denial about the harm we are experiencing. The capitalist, white supremacist, heteropatriarchy has colonized our land, bodies, brains, and hearts. We need to cleanse and bless our house. We can do that through ritual, through spells, through intention, through paying attention. We can do that through small changes in our own lives, in the lives of our neighborhoods and places of worship. We can do that through changes in our cities and towns.
Dion Fortune said that magic was the art of changing consciousness at will. Now is the time to change our own and other’s consciousness as we will. Our will is to create a world where it is a blessing you were born, God loves you, no exceptions, none are harmed, and we affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
Here’s some banishing spells: http://www.lunasgrimoire.com/cleansing-spells/, http://wiccanspells.info/category/exorcism-and-possession-spells/
Here’s some places to help change your self http://www.bustle.com/articles/76762-11-ways-to-be-a-trans-ally-according-to-transgender-people-themselves, http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/11/things-allies-need-to-know/
You might want to review, also, the CUUPS statements for
- Black Lives Matter
- Consent Culture
- Climate Justice