December 18, 2016
Oh, the Trump train is boarding, and all the powerful schemers are climbing abord. They are going to a land called America Great Again and they think we all will go with them. But they are confused, most of America is confused, about where they are actually going. They believe that America is Great is where each generation has more money, more financial opportunity, than the generation before.
For example, The New York Times just published an article (“The American Dream, Quantified at Last,” by David Leonhardt) which begins with the fact that historian James Truslow Adams coined the term “American Dream” in his 1931 book The Epic of America. They quote his definition of the American Dream as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”
The problem is that they use this definition to only focus on income, as revealed in income tax data. But Adams went on, immediatly after the words quoted, to say that the dream was not just about income and because of that people msunderstand the dream. Adams said, “It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
That sounds like the UU dream, the one that causes to wake up to the social order of the day. We see the social order does not recognize people as they are, or empower them to attain their fullest stature. Instead, the social order uses the sugar of income to ensure the oppressing, alienating, degrading and marginalizing of so many of us. We wake each tme we mark the Transgender Day of Rememberance, or stand with those who say “Black Lives Don’t Matter Enough Yet.” If we are moved by the True American Dream, and relize it is still only a dream, it moves us to leave the Trump Train and seek instead the most holy and beautiful, Peace Train. The dream causes us to wake up and “stay woke” as my allies put it.
Please, join with me in making America “woke” again, seeking not the dream of money and cars only, but also the dream of peace, love justce and compassion.
In the coming years, we know that the fight for environmental justice, and the struggle to unwind American racism, and even the work to end homelessness, will be more difficult and complicated. How do we appoah these struggles peaceully?
Recently I was given the privilege of talking with Brian Hovis on Panorama TV about how to deal with divisiveness after the recent national elections. I hope you get a chance to see it and talk to others about my ideas of peacemaking. However, to underscore a part of my thought I want to share what a great Texas writer and sharp wit, Molly Ivins, once wrote:
“It is not the symphony of voices in sweet concert I enjoy, but the cacophony of democracy, the brouhahas, and the donny-brooks, the full-throated roar of a free people busy using their right to freedom of speech. Democracy requires rather a large tolerance for confusion and a secret relish for dissent. This is not a good country for those who are fond of unanimity and uniformity.”
This is also true of our UU religious communities which value democratic processes highly. For example, though a minority, there are many UUs who are very conservative on some issues and who back politically conservative candidates. Sometimes they feel they must hide their thoughts in UU congregations for fear of alienating others, or of being ostracized. Part of “opening minds, filling hearts and transforming lives,” is seeking mutual understanding. We must have a willingness to not only disagree on some things but to be open and honest about understanding why we sometimes disagree.
Further complicating the situation is the fact that it is against US law for any religious organization to support a particular candidate for election, or to affiliate with any particular political party. However, we religious communities are supposed to take moral stands, even on politically charged issues, legislation, and laws. Thus, despite minority opinions to the contrary in UU congregations, we fought for marriage equality and celebrated the US Supreme Court’s decision as a moral victory for us as well as for all people.
In the coming years, we know that the fight for environmental justice, and the struggle to unwind American racism, and even the work to end homelessness, will be more difficult and complicated. Let us open our minds and hearts to one another, and may we hear within the cacophony of democracy the deeper harmonies of Peace.
With Wishes for Wellness,