Interdependent Web: Law and order

Interdependent Web: Law and order

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


Law and order

The Rev. Lynn Unger acknowledges the human desire for “law and order,” but reminds us that it’s easier said than done.

Your ability to impose order is simply never as complete as you would like it to be. Anyone who promises you that they are able to impose order on a complex human system is almost certainly lying. People have a way of stubbornly refusing to do what you think is right just because you beat them into it.

The appeal of “law and order” is that it offers a simple solution. We are right, and we simply have to impose our will on those who are not right. Believing that this works, in the face of mountains of evidence, is one of the most common of human errors. (Quest for Meaning, July 19)

Doug Muder suggests that liberal policies, such as those in Nordic countries are a real “pro-police agenda.”

I suspect a lot of American cops envy those Finns who only had to fire six bullets in a million emergency situations, or the Icelanders who only had to kill one person in 71 years.

That’s not some magic of the Northern climate, it’s democratic socialism. It’s the best public school system in the world. It’s mental healthcare integrated into a national healthcare system that interacts with schools and businesses. It’s tuition-free universities. It’s an economy where your parents’ income doesn’t decide your caste. It’s a political system not dominated by money. It’s refusing to segregate poor people into dysfunctional communities.

We could do all that here. And if we did, the United States would be a much easier country to police. (The Weekly Sift, July 18)

The Rev. Madelyn Campbell suggest that everyone would be safer, including the police, if we taught de-escalation instead of escalating.

[Just] maybe, if we started to see each other as actual people, then maybe we would be less inclined to shoot 12-year-olds with bb-guns, or men lying on their backs with their hands in the air. And then maybe, if the police weren’t shooting people all the time, then people wouldn’t be so hyper vigilant around the police. And then everyone would be safer. (The Widow’s Mite-y Blog, July 21)

Serious magic

The Rev. Amy Beltaine writes that a Universalist understanding of human worth is hard work—and serious magic.

Recognizing the inherent worth of everyone requires concrete action. It can be hard to draw the circle wider. It might mean reviewing and changing some hymns or stairs or favorite foods. It might mean tolerating baby noises while you are adjusting your hearing device to hear the sermon. It might mean spending extra time grading a path to the labyrinth or letting go of gender-binary imagery for the divine and changing the rites that honor the divine. (Nature’s Path, July 18)

The Rev. Brian Chenowith admits that the candle of his hope is struggling to stay lit, and he invokes the power of ritual to energize us for the work of justice.

As someone serving as a Unitarian Universalist minister, but influenced by the broad spectrum of Paganism, I am hopeful that all the stories of gods and goddesses, all the rituals of illumination, all the circles and spells and sacrifices– all these things and more – can empower us to be allies, be siblings to the oppressed, and be committed to the long haul ahead. It would be foolish of us to think that our rituals, however elaborate or simple, are enough. Are the continued prayers of politicians and pundits enough? Most certainly not. However, let them open the way to concrete action and awareness. Do not let your own prayers (or rituals) be the end. (Nature’s Path, July 20)

Hope is a default position for the Rev. David Pyle.

I am surprised to find I still have hope. Because I have not lost faith in love. I have not lost faith in the ability of love to transform human hearts. I have not lost faith in the power of one person connecting with the humanity of another person, and that disarming hatred and indifference.

Love will not protect you. If anything, love puts you more at risk. To show love, to be love requires you be vulnerable. Spiritually, emotionally, and even physically vulnerable. Love can make you easier to kill. Love is not magic. (Facebook, July 15)

Lazy lies

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern responds to the white supremacist lies of Representative Steve King, who claimed this week that everything of value in the world comes from white, Western countries.

I remember when an English professor at my college asserted that the syllabus of his early-American lit class was composed of white male writers because others just hadn’t contributed. Students started posting flyers all over campus: “Professor, have you heard of:” followed by a long list of African-American and female writers of the time. I don’t know if it changed his views, and I doubt very much that such a stream of “people you should have heard of” would change Rep. King’s. But that list changed me forever. So, not for King but for the sake of anyone who might be thinking, quietly, “He’s right . . . ,” please comment with some of the greatest contributors to human thought and culture who were not “white people.” (Sermons in Stones, July 19)

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein responds to the fat-shaming photos and comments by Playboy model Dani Mathers, suggesting she needs more mental and spiritual exercise.

You need to work out your mind, girl. I feel obliged to inform you that that’s all you’re going to have to support you when your body isn’t young and fit or suffers ill health at any point along the way.

Here’s a mental exercise you can do while you’re at the gym or anywhere else. As you notice people around you, focus on them and really see them. They are a collection of fascinating individuals. Try to imagine them as a tiny baby, then a toddler, then an elementary school age kid, and so on up the life path to elder years, and then end of life, and then death. Remember that you, too, will die, and that none of you knows how, where or when. Let humility touch your heart. As you breathe in and out, breathe in, “I am grateful to be alive in this moment.” As you breathe out, think, “I wish everybody around me the wellness that they, too, seek by being here.” (PeaceBang, July 15)

Personal journeys

The Rev. Dr. Nori Rost just completed the Camino de Santiago, in part to grieve her brother’s death.

This Camino is over but in my heart I carry the journey itself, and that will never end. Neither, I know, will my grief; that, too is a pilgrimage that will wind its way down whatever terrain my future takes. And that’s okay. That's how it should be. There will always be beautiful questions to ask of it. (sUbteXt, July 17)

The Rev. Karen G. Johnston begins a series of posts about journeying with her mother through dementia.

I am offering these writings in hopes that they might be meaningful beyond my own personal echo chamber. I hope that someone struggling with a family member with dementia might stumble upon them. Or that you, dear reader, might send them to your friend or co-worker who is in need of the companionship I offer here. It is my hope that they – which is to say, you — recognize themselves, and feel emotional validation, or a whisper of calm in their own personal storm this disease wages upon us mortals, or just a little bit less alone. (Awake and Witness, July 20)

The Rev. Linda Barnes describes the loss involved in transitioning from life on her beloved family farm, to a new, eagerly anticipated life as a parish minister.

While we have been preparing for our lives to change for five years, leaving our farm was heartbreaking. Walking through the house we had so lovingly brought up to date and made our own was like a death. I remembered grief comes in waves so I steadied myself for those waves, which did come. Leaving our home with little knowledge of where we would land, how it would feel, who will we be – this is transition. Trust is not always my strong suit, or is that faith? I don’t like feeling out of control. Perhaps it takes faith in our own resourcefulness, faith that we will be received on the other side with warmth and friendship, faith that our son will find his own way. I’m not sure. (Facebook, July 18)