In the Interim: As To the Meaning of Words

It is spring, it is nearing the end of the church year, and our thoughts are supposed to be turning toward summer, rest, renewal and – at Follen – the operetta.  This year’s Gilbert and Sullivan production is called “Patience,” and it’s an apt descriptor for what I lack right now.  Yesterday we were assaulted – not for the first time – but a string of tweets from a famous comedienne and actor that were blatantly racist and filled with hate.  Was it supposed to be funny?  To anyone?  Hard for me to believe that it could be so.  Were we supposed to laugh off the posts?  Keep doing what we had started and say, “Oh well”?  Sorry, but I can’t.

These kinds of hate-filled comments are increasingly the norm, not only from politicians but from many others who have some kind of a virtual bully pulpit to stand on.  Because such behavior has become much more common, I get the sense that more of us are supposed to shrug and move on.  The stakes are very high so – sorry, but I can’t.

We – those who live in this country, in this Commonwealth; those who live in Middlesex County and these towns – what does Unitarian Universalism mean to us?  Here are the things we try to teach our children about this faith:

  1. Each person is important.
  2. Be kind in all you do.
  3. We’re free to learn together,
  4. And search for what is true.
  5. All people need a voice
  6. Build a fair and peaceful world
  7. We care for our planet earth.

Nowhere in those seven statements does it say “We can say whatever we want without regard for the dignity and value of another,” or “If you don’t like what I say – too bad.”  I’ve heard it said – too often – that being a Unitarian Universalist means that you can believe whatever you want.  Not so:  being a Unitarian Universalist calls us to a higher set of expectations, about God, about our lives, about who we are.  “One God, no one left behind,” was the way former UUA President Bill Sinkford described the faith.  I’d add, “With love and respect for all who share our most basic values.”

Words matter.  And our children and youth are listening.  Me too.  Let’s choose them carefully, with respect for those with whom we live in community, whether virtual or actual.


Deborah Weiner
Interim Director of Religious Education