Today I participated in a ‘town meeting’ at the UU Church where I’ve been attending Sunday services. For those of you who do not know about Unitarian Universalist Churches, well, let’s just say many of them are very, very open, liberal, accepting of anyone from any religion, race, ethnic, political background or sexual orientation. They also tend to be socially active, and by this I mean “civilly active”–they give back to the community in a positive way. At least from what I’ve experienced.
So I came in late to the discussion about whether to hang a “Black Lives Matter” banner on the Church grounds so passing cars could visibly see it, but on the property so the city wouldn’t give us grief about it.
The decision must be a consensus of the congregation before it can go up–and as you can guess, there has been heated discussion.
From what I saw today, the main conflicting arguments seem to be between fear (don’t put it up) and standing up for equality and social justice (do put it up). All participants today came to this safe space to voice their deep and real feelings on these very current issues.
Fear, of course is one we can all relate to given the daily bombardment of news media relating story after story of innocent lives being taken by terrorists. Or even just hearing about people disagreeing with someone’s point of view and having them march into a place of worship and gunning down the parishioners. Fear is real and I definitely could identify with one woman’s heart thumping angst about hanging this sign, then picturing the aftermath. What if, what if….??
But what about all the Black lives? I had been personally very ignorant about the movement and said so, only knowing about its early beginnings. What I had heard in the beginning had turned me off because it had seemed too violent and militant for my taste. I have always been more of the same mind as Martin Luther King Jr. honestly–you don’t fight violence with violence….
I was told, though, I should go to the website and read it–that I might change my mind. So I did go, and now feel very differently about the movement. It was never that I doubted that Black lives matter, but I needed to be educated on what they were trying to propose and their credo. It made sense to me upon reading it.
So the real question is: how much is each person willing to risk for a personal belief? I stood outside with another woman who was also in favor (like me) of hanging the sign and we both felt that if the worse happened and we were killed for this, then we died for the right reason. Better than of cancer.
She still couldn’t understand why others didn’t feel the same way. Having always played the diplomat, the ‘bridge’, the peacemaker–I tried to explain that people have a right to their fear and their opinion too–especially as UU’s! Our ages took us through dark times with race inequality and in our own personal lives we had faced prejudice. So this shaped our decisions. But we all have our own story that creates our fears, our choices and our banners to wave.
So, we must continue to talk.
And this was the best part of the whole idea of hanging the banner in the first place: the dialog, the way it made us look deep within ourselves and how it makes us bind as a community. The ideas that surfaced and the commitments that came out of this meeting were so valuable too.
We must remember that even if the congregation votes no, it was not for nothing.