At a recent meeting of the Faith Development Team, someone made reference to the “grease” required for social interaction. We played with that idea for awhile and coined the word LUUBE to express Unitarian Universalist interaction with the world at large. We all tend to interact with people who are like us. Our friends are similar to us, which is why they are our friends. Too much sameness, though, can dull the heart as well as the mind, and we become fearful of things that are not like us.
According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and other books, we actually benefit more from people with whom we have only a few overlapping interests. Gladwell claims that we are more likely to find jobs and partners through our connections with these acquaintances because they are outside of our usual circle of connections. The ways in which we differ are important.
The Rev. Charles Sheldon was the minister of the Central Congregational Church of Topeka, Kansas in the early part of the 20th century. He believed that education was the way out of poverty, and persuaded his congregation to start the first integrated school in Kansas for the children of an African-American community located near the church. He wrote several fictional works about Christianity, including In His Steps-What Would Jesus Do? And while his phrase has been embraced fully by the conservative Christian movement, Rev. Sheldon was very much a liberal, one whose belief in evolution strengthened his faith in God.
The WWJD? phrase sparked a memory, and I went looking for and found my bracelet, made 7-10 years ago by the youth in our Faith Development program here. The beads are WWUUD? What would UUs do? It is always good question to ask. Does our faith support our actions? Do our actions support our faith? We have a wonderful foundation of faith to stand on. We can take the tools of belief in the inherent worth and dignity, the interdependent web, and the search for truth to become co-creators of a world in which we wish to live and leave to the children. Our faith provides us with the grease necessary for social interaction, to navigate that slippery slope of dealing with people not like us. And I think our compassion will show us the way.