My family and I recently moved to a new neighborhood. The past few weeks I have gotten to know this place on walks with my dog by taking particular notice of the trees: the tall tulip tree towering over my back porch; the oaks that feed squirrels with acorns beneath; the sugar maple leaves just beginning to turn red. Crab apple, walnut, elm, black locust, birch, and many evergreen species also live here. I am learning their names and listening to what each one has to tell me about their lives– about the other lives they harbor, and the gifts of shade, beauty, and oxygen they give to me and other people of this place.
Just as biodiversity is essential for a thriving ecosystem, so does multiplicity allow human systems to flourish. Holding diversity as a core value means cherishing difference, celebrating multiple expressions of being in the world, and sharing unique perspectives that enrich one another’s lives. Too often we miss the diversity that is right in our midst. We make judgments too easily, falling into easy stereotypes, or make broad generalizations that miss the important particularities of individual experience. We forget to listen to what other people have to tell us about their lives.
As Unitarian Universalists we seek to embody diversity. We must be vigilant not to mistake implicit cultural norms for the core of our faith. We are called to embrace a multiplicity of identities and expressions of race, class, age, gender expression, sexual orientation, religious belief, and more. Unity does not mean conformity. We can make space in one community for quiet meditation and shouts of Amen during sermons. We can embrace gospel and classical music, cantares de español, and English hymns. We can strive to create a community in which all people are not only welcomebut also celebrated and loved for who they are.
Let us seek to live our faith through unity and diversity– united by shared core values, expressed in many different ways that breathe life into our world.