Dear Ones- This month we will be highlighting our second UU Principle which compels us to “Justice, Equity, and Compassion”. The Rev Emily Gage, of Unity Temple in Chicago writes:
“Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations points us toward something beyond inherent worth and dignity. It points us to the larger community. It gets at collective responsibility. It reminds us that treating people as human beings is not simply something we do one-on-one, but something that has systemic implications and can inform our entire cultural way of being.
Compassion is something that we can easily act on individually. We can demonstrate openness, give people respect, and treat people with kindness on our own. But we need one another to achieve equity and justice.
Justice, equity, and compassion are all part of the same package. Just as the second Principle overlaps with the first, so it is related to the seventh Principle —the interdependent web of all existence.”
While I certainly agree with Rev Gage’s assessment, I believe our 2nd Principle also points us to something not in our other Principles- Hope.
Hope is in our DNA. Both the Unitarians and the Universalists believed deeply in hope. In fact, one book on Unitarian history is titled, “The Larger Hope”. Hope was the cornerstone upon which all the justice work was done. We are a people of hope. We believe deeply that justice, equity and compassion are possible. And that, by its very definition, is hope. After all, if there is no hope, there is no motivation for action of any kind.
But hope may be a difficult thing to come by at this time of year, when the world seems so filled with one calamity or another, when hatred seems to have the upper hand, when civility and respect- both for others and for ourselves, is sorely lacking.
At this time of year we hear the soothing sounds of “Peace on earth, good will to all”. That’s hope, certainly- the belief that peace is possible and that people will live together in harmony. But these things seem so far-fetched, so impossible to achieve, that they’ve lost their “edge”, their reality. We speak of peace, without really believing it will happen. We hope for good will to all, yet we see example after example of our species ability to be violent and oppressive.
But perhaps hope isn’t really about the soothing sounds of “Peace on earth, good will to all”. Or rather, perhaps it isn’t only about that. Maybe hope requires of us some greater action. Hope requires that we understand not only what the world can be, but what it is- with all its pain, injustice and inequities, and then it requires us to find ways of joining with others to mitigate those things and allow hope to enter more fully into our own souls and those of others.
As our friends at Soul Matters remind us: “In other words, hope doesn’t just promise us that change will come in the future; it also changes who we are in the present. When we believe that a new day is dawning, we don’t just sit down and wait. We get up and go out to meet the light. When hope convinces us that there are unseen forces working for the good, we begin to look around more closely, and in doing so we notice that darkness and pain are not all that is there. When hope’s holy impatience gets into our bones, we start acting as if we deserve that new day now. Which in turn changes others by convincing them that we all have waited long enough.”
May each of us receive “hope’s holy impatience” in our bones, and work diligently for that new day of peace, equity and compassion.
Wishing you peace, justice, equity and compassion,