Gus Speth, former Dean of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies at Yale, once said: “I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and climate change, but I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy.” Speth went on to say that “to deal with those issues we need a spiritual and cultural transformation—and we scientists do not know how to do that.”
I believe we know how do to that. We have the power, and we have the light. We are the ones to lead a spiritual and cultural transformation. This is, “the power of we,” that was the focus of the recent Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Spokane, Washington.
The “spiritual and cultural transformation” begins with the one human activity we have the most control over – my own activity. It begins with honest and rigorous self-examination of the ways in which my activity, as well as my inactivity, at times, reflects selfishness, greed, and apathy.
Recognizing these qualities in ourselves is not easy, and we need to approach this work with self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-forgiveness.
And we need to have a balanced approach, recognizing that while we can, at times, behave in ways that are selfish, greedy, and apathetic, we can also behave quite differently, making sacrifices for others and the earth, and acting with great generosity and compassion.
A healthy congregation provides a safe, accepting, and supportive environment for all people, while holding one another accountable to behave in right relationship, encouraging us to restrain our human tendencies that cause harm and nurture our human potentials that contribute to flourishing and thriving.
The quest to harness the power of we begins with myself, and expands to the groups where we have influence. These groups include this congregation, and the larger Unitarian Universalist Association. They include the towns and state in which we hold residency, the nation in which we hold citizenship, and organizations to which our nation belongs, like the United Nations.
This month I invite you to join Unitarian Universalists around the country in a deeper conversation about “the power of we” by considering the following six questions:
- What sustains you and your faith community in efforts towards inclusion, equity, and diversity?
- What limits you from living out our faith’s promise towards liberation and transformation?
- What should we expect of ourselves and one another in living out our covenantal relationships?
- What is a time that you felt the power of we in Unitarian Universalism?
- What is so important in Unitarian Universalism that you feel you would be willing to sacrifice for it?
- What will it take for Unitarian Universalism to fully embody the power of we?
We will discuss these questions during Sunday Services in the month of October.
See you on Sunday,