|Dear First U,I’m guessing that many of you, like me, are dismayed but not entirely surprised by the events that occurred in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. While it is simultaneously shocking but somewhat predictable that such audacious behavior would come from (or in this case, be sanctioned by) a President whose mental functioning is questionable, it is profoundly disappointing and disconcerting that so many members of our nation’s governing body would placate these activities and the leader under whose shadow the activities were carried out.
The failure of security enforcement at the Capitol Building is a metaphor for a much larger issue in our country. This physical structure housing our elected officials represents the institution of democracy, and it was indeed democracy itself that was laid siege upon. Wednesday’s events were a culmination of four years of such a siege, architected at the White House, appeased by many legislators, and lauded by a large portion of the public. It should be no surprise that such seeds of toxicity would bear this week’s poisonous fruit.
These events underscore the need for our UU values to be lived in the private and public domains of our lives. Never before has the significance of our 5th Principle been so evident: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.
As people of this living faith, we are called to actively step into our Principles…rhetoric and idealizing will not bring forth the change that this this attack so clearly highlighted as necessary.
We must find our voices and speak out against the misuse of truth. It becomes easy to roll our eyes with complacency when lies become the norm. “That’s just Donald being Donald” should never have been an acceptable response. Left unchecked, a terroristic action such as the storming of the Capitol Building by Trump supporters is the inevitable result. The question shouldn’t be “How did we get here?” but instead “Why didn’t we see it coming, and what can we do to ensure that it never happens again?”
Actively looking for opportunities to speak the truth and to hold our elected officials accountable is imperative. Hearing liberal Sunday morning messages and shaking our heads within our own progressive circles may be inspiring and therapeutic, but no change will come when democracy and justice-upholding values are contained within our walls.
In the aftermath of what occurred, the disparity of law enforcement response to the mostly white mob versus responses to racial justice activities where many protesters are people of color was apparent as it was appalling. As citizens of Louisville and members and friends of this congregation, we know all too well that the pepper spray and rubber bullets utilized here were conspicuously absent earlier this week. Consequently, black commentators repeatedly observed that centuries-old racial injustice hasn’t really changed at all in this country.
There is truth in their observations. While the increased attention of the white public to the issue of racial injustice since the murders of people such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor is encouraging, the road to justice remains a long and uphill one. We need to look back no further than two days ago for a reminder.
And thus, ours must be a response of clarity, determination, and action. Like never before, let us heed the requirements of our Principles to build community, democracy, justice, respect, and truth, with our commitment to spiritual growth being the foundation of our efforts. May we embrace the relevance of Wednesday’s Epiphany celebration of revelation and light to carry out this work of being co-creators of a truly changed and enlightened world.
In hope and with love,