Interning in January

It’s hard to imagine times more in need of love. We were rent apart as individuals, communities and a nation by the horrific shootings in Newtown. I see from a CNN post the words of Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina; the appointee to replace Sen. Jim DeMint, who hinted that he may oppose any gun control legislation in the Senate, declaring that the greater issue is one of “moral decay.” He also apparently followed with the statement that “mental illness should be a major part of the conversation.”
Wow, as a committed UU and of a Universalist theological bent, it occurred to me that “moral decay” and “mental illness” have supplanted the notion of “original sin” from Christian theology. The early Universalists and many Unitarians in America were courageously and vociferously opposed to the idea of original sin–namely, that all humans have inherited Adam’s moral flaw. Many felt that God was too good to pre-condemn human beings. What if moral decay and mental illness, both of which are attributed to certain individuals in our society, serve as the new original sin? We tend to view these days many psychological conditions, such as Asperger’s Syndrome or psychosis, as inherited or biological flaws. Like Tim Scott, many of us would ascribe to the horrific to the marginal acts of “deranged” individuals, ignoring the systemic flaws in our society.
I believe that the social isolation, competitiveness and lack communal bonding that are rampant in America are the structural sins that feed chaos, despair and confusion, rather than differences in moral beliefs or susceptibility to psychological illness.
If so, then Universalism with its fundamental values of loving, respecting and dignifying all could be the antidote to fragmentation, could be a balm that soothes the rage and violence so prevalent in our culture today. A salvation of all through loving-kindness, instead of marginalization of a few through labeling.