Hello, Starr King family and friends.
I write this on August 14th, 2011. Seventy-six years ago today, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. It was a great humanitarian piece of legislation and makes me proud. Yet, the shouting controversy over Social Security (and economic justice generally) has never much abated and today the system seems ever more acutely endangered, politically and financially.
Seventy years ago today, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced the Atlantic Charter, establishing a vision for post-World War II settlement.
Among the Charter’s assertions were that all peoples had a right to self-determination, there was to be global economic cooperation and advancement of social welfare, the participants would work for a world free of want and fear, and at the conclusion of the war, the aggressors and all parties would pursue a common disarmament. Eight European nations, the Soviets and the Free French quickly signed on.
This Charter seems to accord in spirit with several key UU principles. Yet Churchill and Stalin pressed the idea that the “self-government” clause applied only to Axis aggression, and not to English (India) and Soviet (Balkans) occupations. Roosevelt, for wartime expediency, accepted these distortions of the Charter’s plain language.
Sixty-four years ago today, with the end of British colonial power in India, Pakistan and India divided into two states, predominantly Muslim and Hindu respectively. The partitioning was hasty and widespread rioting resulted. Yet both nations were seeking legitimate self-rule and freedom of religious expression – can’t argue with that, right?
Alas, they’re still arguing, and killing, and oppressing and being oppressed.
I’ve been pondering the juxtaposition of great and generous humanity, the striving of the human spirit for freedom, the zeniths of loving-kindness of which we are capable, with the cynical selfinterest, theological rigidity, short-sighted social perspectives and sometimes just downright cruelty of which we are manifestly likewise capable. Indeed, great humanitarians are not without hurtful error and oppressors to some may be genuinely affirmative to many. We are humans with deeply primitive needs and sophisticated, soaring creative intellects; either or both can be expressed. As are humans, so are nations. And religions.
I love Unitarian Universalism because I see it as accepting the challenge of our perverse personal and social fallibilities. It seeks integration, forgiveness, self-government, love and an “arc of history that bends, inexorably, toward justice.” I can’t think of a community more supportive of the ideas I cherish as we swim together in these turbulent seas. Yet I know I too have error, even hypocrisy, and I suspect that we as a religious community are so afflicted also.
To state the point succinctly, do we live as we teach? Do I? Infinite strands of this great interdependent web respond to our own vibrations. I seek to be nurturing, loving and compassionate, ever clear-sighted about my own biases, selfishness and incivility. I make a big difference! You do too! May our presence each day bless this world.
Our Back to Church BBQ/Potluck kicks off directly after worship on September 11th, 2011, a tender anniversary for our nation. But what better day to gather together and affirm our deep pleasure, in that moment, in having one another?
I look forward to seeing you there.