Friday, 04 November 2016 00:00

The Reverend's Reflections - November 2016 Featured

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As the year progresses towards the end of my ministry at UUFCO, people are frequently asking me why I, as a Canadian, choose to serve in the United States. Aside from the fact that there are far more UU congregations in the States than Canada (hence more jobs), it is simply a better fit for me. I have spent my life crossing back and forth across the border and since the election of Ronald Reagan, I have been increasingly aware of the impact of the U.S. on Canada and beyond. The perspective I bring as an outsider who has an understanding of this culture is welcomed and relevant to people. Little did I know how provocative and fractious this election cycle would be,

or how divided and anxious people would be. Regardless of how ‘things go’ in the election on November 8, we face a lot of uncertainty about the future – uncertainty that goes well beyond this country’s borders.

UUs speak of the interdependent web of life, physically, socially, and spiritually, a view of reality that I hold personally. We are all connected. And yet we cannot live in healthy ways without boundaries. Sometimes we need to draw boundaries to manage differences between people. Good fences make good neighbors, as the saying goes. Sometimes having different views doesn’t matter much, but sometimes the differences are important and need to be worked through to some new agreement or reconciliation because the relationships, agreements or boundaries

  1. were not properly agreed upon in the first place
  2. are no longer seen as just by both sides (if they ever were)
  3. are no longer seen to serve the common good

Exploring our important differences requires us to be respectful of one another’s values and feelings, and honoring our own at the same time. It’s not something our Western culture is particularly well known for. Western culture is better known for adversarial approaches to difference, with a winner and a loser, a party in the right and a party in the wrong. Being right feels a whole lot better than being wrong, and it appears we will go to great lengths to feel right and good, even if we know we aren’t actually right.

As I write this, over 300 clergy, including over many UU ministers, are traveling to Minnesota in response to a call from Episcopal Church leaders to take non-violent action in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who are being treated in a heavy-handed fashion by militarized police from 5 states. Despite the order to halt construction by three federal agencies, DAPL construction has encroached approximately 17 miles into a 20-mile voluntary exclusion zone. Clearly there are ‘important differences’ in this situation; differences that need to be talked about, not simply bullied into oblivion and bulldozed over. This is one of many dialogues that need to take place to ensure our collective future, not only for Americans but also for all of us as the interdependent web of life.

Limits, boundaries, differences, relationships and agreements are the stuff of life in community, and the choices are rarely as simple and clear as we may be used to thinking. Yet if we invest the time in listening to one another, building relationships and trust, we can find reprieve from our uncertainty, anxiety and need for simple answers. As November unfolds, let us be gentle and compassionate with one another and all around us.

Reverently yours….

Rev. Antonia

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