Friday, July 31, 2015

More Than Slayers of Social Justice Cause Dragons?

I Am UU posted a series of writing challenges, one of which was to write an elevator speech (how you would explain your org in a few sentences, as if you were on an elevator with someone and only had that much time to explain) about UU. She/he said:

The idea is that we want people to see us as a positive force in the world. We want people to join us and be with us, and not just against some other thing. Most importantly, we want to have a mission that extends beyond any one goal. If our mission is to slay some dragon of injustice, then we have to about redefining ourselves once it is dispatched. 
We need to be more than a series of social justice causes.

Two things I appreciate about this: 1. The accurate description of how we see ourselves (myself included) as slayers of "some dragon of injustice," and 2. The implication that some of us and/or other people view UUs as "a series of social justice causes." 

I've been thinking/wondering about #2 for months, and then this week, the UUA announced the common read for 2015-2016: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.

Don't get me wrong -- each book that I've read in the past 5-6 years has been great. One of the questions the UUA wants you to ask before nominating a book is:
  • How relevant is its theme to Unitarian Universalism at this particular time?
The selection committee does a good job of choosing books relevant to UU at the time. Consider past reads:



I've been a UU for awhile now but perhaps am still wearing rose-colored glasses suitable for dragon-slaying. My faith was shaken a bit when trying to organize an area-wide forum on the undocumented with a nationally-known speaker, and invited every area UU minister and congregation, sought radio, newspaper,  and TV interviews; and very few people came and none of the major media outlets wanted an interview.

Many UUs in my area went to Arizona before and for Justice GA. We cared about immigration injustice and the undocumented trying to come to the US. Then we cared about the injustice in American courts and prisons, and the disproportionate numbers of blacks in prison. Now we care about Black Lives Matter and we accept racism as a problem/failure of whiteness.

Has one dragon of injustice replaced another? I know that if we had hosted an area-wide forum on Black Lives Matter, hundreds would have come. I'm not making judgments as much as asking: what does this mean?

The same private prison corporations that incarcerate blacks incarcerate the undocumented under the guise of detainment. Undocumented people are found dead in their cells in detention centers. It is not just blacks who are incarcerated, it is children.

When I put my glasses back on, it is so clear to me that in many cases, one cause is not separate from another; one cause is another. How many dragons are there really and what does our faith call us to do?

Read I Am UU here:

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