The Buddha taught that when all the conditions were right, a thing would happen. This little bit of wisdom can be applied to everything, great and small. For example, a thin piece of paper comes at just the right angle, just the right speed, toward my finger, and suddenly without any evidence of a cut, blood flows. A paper cut. We have all had one. When it happens for more than the first time we know it, and plead: oh no, why me. And yet, we all survive paper cuts. How did that happen? Why me? Because all of the conditions were right.
Bigger things happen. Presidential elections. Why this? Because all of the conditions were right.
And this: A crisis within the Unitarian Universalist Association over the systemic obstacles to People of Color arising to positions of leadership. Documented. Witnessed.
Why this? Why us? Why now?
Because all of the conditions are in place. “Right” makes it sound like it’s a good thing. This is not a good thing, and it has not been for a long time. It’s a good thing that it’s finally happening, but it’s not a good thing.
I’ve been listening to the issues as they arise, and I’ve assembled a few thoughts for consideration about this set of conditions that are happening now, among us:
1. All religious community dialogue that is genuine will cause disturbance. I offer that as an affirmation and not a complaint.
2. When we are disturbed, we must ask: is this disturbance one that can expand me as a person or one which I must oppose because of the clarity I have? If it’s the latter, one can then stay and be the prophetic voice, or choose to leave the community. However, leaving because one is disgruntled is not a sign of deep community. It’s a sign of shallow community.
3. We often think of democratic process as if it is “simply” majority rule. For me, this is an area that is too much unexplored in our community and likely in Unitarian Universalism as a whole. You do not need religious community for simple majority rule, and even in our nation’s constitution there was a solid attempt to protect minorities from that kind of abuse.
4. If we choose not to discuss anything that makes anyone uncomfortable then eventually we really cannot discuss anything, and we really are not community in any imaginable way.
It is very painful to me to lose anyone from community–especially if they are angry and even more especially if they are angry, remain silent, and leave. That benefits no one. Having said that, I’m like everyone else: I don’t enjoy the discomfort that comes from difficult issues. I can do avoidance like anyone else. Unitarian Universalism invites me into something else.
Unitarian Universalism invites me into this very real thing: all things are possible. That thing which made me so uncomfortable is my next invitation into the next thing that can be possible. And I need a minute to live into that.