As I write this, it has been only five days since the mass shooting in Orlando. This tragedy is a prime example of how justice issues intersect: hate toward people who identify as LGBTQAI, racism and anti-immigrant sentiments (Latinos were the predominant victims at Pulse Night Club), gun violence, mental health issues, and Islamophobia.
How do we hold this brokenness? What do we do about it?
Several years ago, UU World Magazine included an article entitled Black Humanism’s Response to Suffering. (see http://www.uuworld.org/articles/black-humanism-response-suffering)
In it, the author said:
“Humanism tells us that suffering has two sources: human action (either through folly or malice) and the randomness of nature. Under this scheme, it is not God who has the power to end suffering but humanity. True, humanity might not be able to eliminate all suffering but humanity can at least limit much suffering… For humanists, particularly for black humanists, it is the creative imagination that provides hope to alleviate suffering…The end to suffering, or the elimination of the suffering we humans inflict upon each other, may not be possible. But the dream of it, a dream found in liminal spaces and our human fellows, can spur us to action. It can cause us to accept responsibility, as we can, for the wrongs of the world and seek, somehow, to right them. When the paralysis of inaction or despair threatens us, our imagination can provide the paths forward.”
Creative imagination seems hard to muster up when we are in shock and feeling grief, and sometimes I feel the paralysis and despair the author describes. So how do we spark our imaginations during this time? How do we spur each other to action?
1 – Recommit to spiritual practices. How do you slow down, get centered, connect to something larger than yourself, and reach a state of compassion? Whatever you do, try doing it daily.
2 – Notice what comes to you. When we get centered, connected and compassionate, we also get open and receptive. The Spirit of Life moves. Jot down those ideas when they come.
3 – Stick together and share your dreams. At the vigil organized by Out Boulder on Sunday June 12 th , over 250 people gathered to acknowledge the humanity of each other and those who had been slain the night before. Gay, lesbian and transgender folks told their stories. A member of the Islamic Center of Boulder spoke about how Muslims in Boulder are not violent or hateful. He said, “We are with you, shoulder to shoulder.” We promised to live authentically. We all promised to never to give up; to keep dreaming. The dream of ending suffering can be found in our fellow humans.
4 – Act. Dreams and imagination can spur us to action. In the coming year, our all-church social justice focus will be on the intersectionality of issues. Together, we will learn about this concept. We will act on what we learn, and we will reflect so we can keep our imaginations active and our dreams alive.
In times like these, I am reminded that I need church. I need a religious community that dreams, acts, and hopes together. I am grateful for all of you.
Love, Rev. Kelly