Our Unitarian Universalist principles describe the highest ideals that we wish to see flourish in the world. They describe a world to which we aspire, a world where:
-The inherent worth and dignity of every person is affirmed and honored
-Every person has the ability to experience the fullness of life
-All people have access to democratic processes
-People are free from oppression
-There is peace.
Right now in Ukraine, in Texas and here in Florida, we see leaders taking actions that are moving things in the opposite direction of where we want them to go. Instead of actions that support peace, democracy, freedom, and the inherent worth and dignity of every person, we see leaders taking actions that support war, suffering, injustice and oppression.
In Ukraine, Russian president Vladimir Putin has launched an immoral and illegal invasion, causing immense pain, suffering, death and destruction. Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine, to those who have lost loved ones, those who have been injured, those who are fleeing violence, and all who are suffering because of the evil of war. We hope and pray that the people of Russia will find the courage to stand up for what is right and just. We hope and pray for a global movement to hold Russian leaders accountable.
In Texas, the Attorney General and the Governor announced that affirming a transgender young person’s gender identity could be considered “child abuse” under Texas law. This has already had an incredibly harmful impact on the mental health of transgender youth throughout the United States. As Unitarian Universalists, we affirm the inherant worth and dignity of all transgender youth. This is a time to recommit ourselves to protecting and supporting them. It is a time to resist efforts to oppress, harm and marginalize them.
And here in Florida, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would prohibit “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in the state’s primary schools. It has been called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics. Seventeen year old Florida student CJ Walden, who is gay, says “This bill will lead to more pain, depression and suicide and self-harm. To make students have to hide who they really are will just make our schooling experience more challenging for them.” Students across Florida are fighting back with letter writing campaigns and protests. As Unitarian Universalists who affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all LGBTQIA+ people, we are called to resist this harmful legislation.
There is such a huge gap between the beloved community we wish to see flourish in our world, and the current actions of leaders that are leading to violence, war, harm, oppression and marginalization. I feel weary just describing the situation as it is playing out in the news headlines.
So I want to lift up the beauty, the importance and the great value of our Unitarian Universalist congregations as places where we can heal our hearts and heal our world. We can care for our hearts when we experience the spiritual pain of seeing so much oppression in the world. We can come together with others to resist the forces of hate and oppression and work for peace, justice and compassion in human relations. In our worship services, small group ministries and so many other places, we tell our stories of pain and heartbreak so that we can heal and move towards wholeness together. We nourish our spirits with music, beauty and stillness.
And when we see the gap between the world we want to see and the world as it is, we can come together to take action to help bring about that better world. We can remind ourselves that we are not alone in longing for justice, peace, freedom and compassion. We are not alone in lamenting the oppression, the violence and the suffering we see in the world. We mourn together, and we fight together. We have work to do, beloved friends. There are a lot of problems in the world right now that demand a response. But we are not alone in figuring out how to respond and how to resist. We can come together in community to make a bigger difference together than we can by ourselves. I look forward to working with you to resist hate, side with love and help bend the arc of the universe towards justice.