Interdependent Web: Populism gone bad, playground bullies, sources of hope

Interdependent Web: Populism gone bad, playground bullies, sources of hope

A weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism.


As Trump’s inauguration approaches, the Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg finds a seed of hope in the swings in American history, particularly the relatively recent swing toward religiosity.

Seeing how recently major shifts have happened can also embolden us to consider what major changes we can bring about in our present day.

We live in treacherous times, but there remain many reasons for hope. When the pendulum swings too far in one direction, the energy for resistance and resilience builds. (Pluralism, Pragmatism, Progressivism, January 11)

Doug Muder examines “how populism goes bad.”

Democracy does have a way of getting tangled in its own processes, and American democracy has gotten more and more tangled as polarization has increased. Back in October, I listed a series of situations where the country is stuck in a status quo that nobody wants: millions of undocumented immigrants living off the books, a budget process that yields perpetual deficits and lurches from one threatened government shutdown to the next, unfilled judicial vacancies, and a Medicare system that creeps ever closer to bankruptcy.

At some point, people stop caring about good process, they just want it all fixed. If a Julius Caesar can come in and make things happen, that sounds like an improvement. (The Weekly Sift, January 9)

The Rev. Jordinn Nelson Long writes that we “have an astonishingly hard time as adults calling out the playground bullies among us.”

The Playground Bully, in adulthood, does what they have always done. A shadow of fear is cast, and under its veil, loyalties are questioned, the meek are silenced, the hateful and bloodthirsty given rocks and small arms, the rules of civil engagement deemed worthless, and those marked “other” asked to get in line. To be closed out of the circle, pushed from the cliff, thrown off the raft, relegated to the other side of the wall.

Friends, the cure for bullying is the same as it's always been. Pushback, from the side of love. Upstanding rather than bystanding. (Facebook, January 11)

Andrew Hidas compares his family’s experience, as post-World War II refugees from Hungary, with the experiences of refugees fleeing Syria.

My parents were among those tip-toeing tenuously into a new country and culture, hopeful, frightened, acutely attuned to picking up cues on the mores of their new land. They were part of history’s seemingly endless diaspora, reflecting the dismal realities of humankind’s penchant for conflict even as it has revealed our countervailing qualities of mercy and brother/sisterhood.

Our world in 2017 could use quite a bit more of those latter qualities. The challenge to bring them forth is clear. (Traversing, January 8)

The Rev. James Ford thoroughly enjoyed the movie “Hidden Figures,” and encourages us to go see it to restore some of our hope in humanity.

The world in which this story takes place is not so far removed from where we live today both in time and in heart. A frisson of danger hangs around these women as they do their work and live their lives. There is a scary moment when their car breaks down and a police car pulls over. And even though we know John Glenn will make it, there were moments when I found myself gripping the arms of my seat and wondering if Glenn was going to blow up in a fiery ball. Many small and larger scenes giving power to the story. And, you know, I loved the strong men behind the strong women. (Monkey Mind, January 9)

The Rev. Erica Baron believes that stories and rituals are an important part of responding to climate change.

If every story we tell of light and darkness celebrates the light and fears or shuns the darkness, that is not balanced. If every story we tell of warmth and cold celebrates the warmth and speaks of driving away the cold, that is not balanced. In an age where heat and light have become so ubiquitous as to be dangerous, we need new stories. . . .

We also need new rituals, rituals that honor darkness and especially cold. Rituals that have as their explicit intention the return of winter to the world. (Nature’s Path, January 6)

John Beckett details his meandering journey of learning to read tarot, and passes along the lessons he learned.

Let the cards speak to you. The artwork will remind you of the standard meanings of the cards. It will also open your eyes to other meanings and other interpretations. Over time, as you see where you were right on and where you went down a dead end, you’ll learn to trust your intuition and the guidance of the cards. (Under the Ancient Oaks, January 8)

The Rev. Ken Collier shares a few thoughts on aging.

I love this life and this beautiful world. And even as I love it, I know that the time will come for me to leave it, to pass it on completely. I have swum through life in a sea of love and beauty. No matter how it is that I may die, I will die into that love and beauty. And that is enough for me. (The Colliery, January 11)

The Rev. Dan Harper discovers a new version of the hymn, “There Is More Love Somewhere.”

In any case — listen to the Bessie Jones version of this tune. Now that I have Jones’ version in my ear, any time I sing it I can’t help but remember that the song comes from the Gullah people of Georgia’s Sea Islands, people who managed to keep their direct cultural connections to Africa; that it’s a song of deepest spiritual longings and hope for the future; and that you don’t need to sing it like a commercially produced recording, you can sing it from the heart. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, January 12)