Belonging: That Bumper Sticker

Some time ago, I was walking into the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett’s building from the parking lot, and my eye was drawn to a bumper sticker on our minister’s car.

 The most radical thing we can do is to introduce people to each other.

That was weeks ago, and I find that message continues to appear in my mind, constantly asking me to consider what is so radical about introducing people to each other.

Simultaneously, and perhaps not so surprisingly, I am confronted with daily examples of what strikes me as deep fracture–within our country and within individual people themselves.  Most recently, I learned of a movement within Congress to repeal aspects of the public support for lunch for children caught in poverty.  That the wealthiest nation on earth would begin to withhold food from children in its public schools is an incredible breakdown in our sense of the common good.

My jaw fell open as I read a friend’s posts on social media recently.  Eight memes in a row offered what I would call consoling Christian messages of love, forgiveness, service and compassion followed by one vile and malicious meme about a particular politician (and it really doesn’t matter which politician).  The fracture between the Christian memes and the political meme was stunning.

Right now both of the two major political parties in our country, each of which yearns to be in power and lead our country for the next 4 to 8 years is fractured.  The one has effectively boosted to nominee status a man who defies all of the historical principles of the party and American democracy in general, and the other has the two potential nominees feeding on each other, each sending out attack emails and adds against each other daily.

The deeply radical thing would be for us to try and acquaint ourselves with each other in this country.  The radical thing is to introduce people to each other–I am more convinced now than ever.  In fact, when I begin to think about how that happens, I am largely at a loss.  The fracture in us is so deep that we find it difficult to even speak with anyone who is not already “on our side.”

So, the really radical thing for me today:  where can I facilitate a conversation today between people who are not listening to each other?  And that may very well include me as one of those people.

Bob Patrick

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1 Response to Belonging: That Bumper Sticker

  1. Margaret Townsend says:

    Excellent, Bob. I would add the importance of listening…really listening and maintaining civil discourse. A tall order..but we all need to try!

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