From the UUA President: Unitarian Universalist values call us to audaciously imagine a world where no one is disposable and where everyone can thrive. They also call us to the struggle that brings these ideals to fruition.
The Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association
Our democracy in the United States is fragile. We have reached a watershed moment that will determine how we move forward as a nation. Despite its founding principles, we have never lived up to the promise of justice for all. “We the people” has never fully included everyone. It was only fifty-six years ago when the Voting Rights Act finally expanded and protected the right to vote for Black Americans. And it was only realized because of the prophetic leadership, organizing, and sacrifices of those in the civil rights movement.
We recognize it is no small endeavor to create a truly democratic society. Unitarian Universalists’ commitment to justice, equity, and democracy is not just political or moral, it is fundamentally theological. It grows from our affirmation of the inherent worth and dignity of every person and the knowledge that we are all interconnected. It reflects the fact that our theology is not so much concerned with the afterlife but is accountable to human experience and the conditions of people’s lives here and now. Human dignity and interdependence are the foundation of our commitment to a multiracial, pluralistic democracy.
True democracy is inclusive, and we each have a stake in helping to determine our country’s future. We launched UU the Vote in 2019 knowing how much our democracy was under attack. When I first imagined the campaign, I hoped we could reach 1 million potential voters. I also wondered, could we really do it? In the end, we reached over 3 million people! We played a critical role in the largest, most accessible, transparent election in history! (See “Our Community Has Power,” page 8.)
UU the Vote was a strategic campaign rooted in a vision of a more just, equitable, and antiracist society. It was intended to strengthen partnerships between our congregations and organizing efforts led by Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people and directly impacted communities.
Living the values that Unitarian Universalism calls us to is not easy. They call us to audaciously imagine a world where no one is disposable and where everyone can thrive. They also call us to the struggle that brings these ideals to fruition.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the significant challenges before us in addressing the pandemic fairly; in combating white supremacy; and in defending democracy against attacks that persist in myriad systemic forms, including new restrictive voter suppression laws. This is why we must stay engaged and organized to defend and expand equity for everyone. It is the reason why this special edition of UU World focuses on democracy.
Let us draw strength, joy, and hope from one another and all we have accomplished. May it inspire us to keep dreaming big, to keep moving forward, to keep organizing for liberation, and to keep answering the call of love and justice.
Please note: newsletter on hiatus
The Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray is the ninth president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. She was elected in June 2017 to a six-year term after serving congregations in Phoenix, Arizona; Youngstown, Ohio; and Nashville, Tennessee. She lives with her husband, the Rev. Brian Frederick-Gray, and their son.
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