Return Again: Our Principles–1

In Unitarian-Universalism, we gather ourselves and our faith around seven Principles. Our Principles are not religious dogma in content.  They are ethical principles in that they embody rather explicitly the things we value.  They allow us to bring stories and content both religious and otherwise to them to help us reflect on how to live their wisdom.  As such, they are or can be points of return for us. I think of points of return as those places, ideas, people and memories to which we return to find our center, to find our moorings, to find the clarity we need in order to make decisions, to move forward, to create.

1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person

Imagine how our world, especially the world of people and human relations, might shift if human beings could return to this principle often.  We might often think that this or any other of the principles are supposed to be applied to how we treat others, and ultimately, they are.  I believe, however, that their application belongs first to how we see ourselves. Do I look upon myself as one having inherent worth and dignity?  If that is my immediate returning point, it will help me navigate other human relationship–what I am willing to negotiate with another (on any level) based on my own sense of worth and dignity.  As a result, my return to this principle then allows me to negotiate how I will work with, see, treat, think about and interact with other human beings because they each are persons of inherent worth and dignity as well.  This principle means that I am, can be and even should be my own best advocate.  It also means that I am, can be and even should be a good advocate and ally for others.

In many situations, we find ourselves wondering:  what should I do here?  Let us return, again, to the first Principle and allow it to reframe the question:  how is human worth and dignity at stake in this situation?  How do I as a person of worth and dignity, move forward?  How do I stand with and stand for the other person’s worth and dignity?

Bob Patrick

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