Training the Next Generation of UU Social Justice Leaders

The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of California (UULMCA) is paying attention to training the next generation of UU Social Justice leaders.  This fall, they launched a 10-month internship program for passionate, idealistic, and entrepreneurial young adult leaders. Under the direction of Rev. Sonya Sukalski, the program aims to build leaders who are healthy in spirit, mind, and body. They will engage with current campaigns and leaders while also discovering how to sustain a lifelong commitment to social justice via theological reflection, community building and personal spiritual practice. The SALT program flyer invites you to follow adventures of this year’s 16 SALT Fellows on the website of the UULMCA, and to look for them at Justice GA in Phoenix!

“Com-passion:” A Theological Foundation for Intergenerational Worship

Why do we do justice work?  Theologically speaking, we are guided by ancient tradition and covenants that teach us to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”  A more contemporary articulation for Unitarian Universalists would be that to honor the inherent worth and dignity of every person means advocating for all human expression whatever the situation.  Such advocacy is how we honor that worth.  But when we’re crossing cultural boundaries in doing our advocacy work, we need to be mindful that our efforts do not patronize nor our expressions become misappropriation.

In my own anti-racism and anti-oppression work over the last decades, and especially in the early days of that awakening in me, I came to appreciate a way to understand “compassion” more fully.  I am thinking here about the Latin roots of the word compassion:  the prefix com meaning with, and passion meaning to feel.  “Com-passion” equals “feeling with.”   I’m not writing about some action where one in privilege reaches down to alleviate the pain of someone less fortunate.  That is a vapid, empty devaluation of the word itself.  But I am talking about discovering ways to identify with those whose positions we advocate, so that their concerns and their struggles become ours in the most intimate, intuitive ways. (more…)

The Deep Well of Appreciation

To rise, to rise each morning

with the faint glow of starlight on our backs

as we head into the joys, the surprises, the challenges of each day

sometimes with awe and wonder, perhaps expectation,

perhaps dread…

 

To rise, to rise each day peering over waterlines,

sandbags, walls, garbage, bunkers…

in wind swept deserts and streets

lined with sweet smelling olive trees alike

What a gift we are given when we can rise

in freedom, of some sort, to some degree. (more…)

We Are Not Guests

A Reflection by Rev. Alicia Roxanne Forde

 

Am I a guest here. Here in this House. Are you?

Are we guests here. Here in this House. And, whose House do we inhabit?

In the small world of our lives

the borders between us: easements, fences, gates, hedges – serve to delineate,

to separate us. To remind us of where my property begins and ends.

Where your property begins and ends.


If you cross over: you are a trespasser or a guest in my house.

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Enacting Justice: Questioning the Paradigm

Whatever the issue area, be it Occupy Wall Street, immigrant integration, or how we are together in religious community, whether we’re conscious of it or not, a paradigm is operative.  A paradigm is a mindset or set of assumptions, often unexamined, about how things happen. It’s the way we shape and understand information; it reflects our perceptions and approach to problem-solving.

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Changing Ourselves: Theological Reflection for All Ages

Immigration justice work is complex. We Unitarian Universalists sometimes think that we have the solutions to complex problems, that we know how to make things right. But our belief in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning implies that there is always more we can learn and additional layers of meaning to uncover. Can we find a multigenerational approach to justice work that focuses not just on solutions to complex problems, but also gives us opportunities to reflect on, and be affected by, the work we do? As we do justice work in our congregations, we need to help one another keep open hearts and be willing to be changed by what we learn, what we see, and what we experience.

It’s not sufficient to study the facts of the issue. Facts engage our minds, but that’s only a part of the picture. It’s not sufficient to tell the stories of those who come to this country and then struggle with the language, underemployment, access to housing and education for their children, prejudice. Stories engage our emotions, but that’s only part of the picture. In our congregations, we must engage in theological reflection to engage our hearts.

Are children and youth capable of doing theological reflection? I think so. In 2003, the Institute for American Values published a report by the Commission on Children at Risk. The report said: “… a less definitive but still significant body of evidence suggests that we are hardwired for meaning, born with a built-in capacity and drive to search for purpose and reflect on life’s ultimate ends.” The report suggested that an answer to this crisis of children at risk might be found in “authoritative communities…groups of people who are committed to one another over time and who model and pass on at least part of what it means to be a good person and live a good life.” Our churches and families can be authoritative communities, offering people of all ages opportunities to reflect together on issues of meaning and purpose, including immigration justice. (more…)