Unitarian Universalism is not really about making each of us feel good about ourselves. It is about encouraging each of us to make good of ourselves. It is about growth, at whatever pace, and being aware of when we hold still for too long.
The I Am UU page posts things that make people uncomfortable. Often these things are what get shared the most, as UUs are often very happy to challenge their more conservative friends and neighbors. “Disturb the comfortable, and comfort the disturbed” has been quoted to us many times.
Other times, we share something focused internally; something meant for our fellow UUs. We share such things to challenge our own community to rethink how UUs operate. We do so with pride, because we have a duty to disturb our own, too, to encourage growth. People who are comfortable rarely feel the need to grow or change. We share because we care, and we want to be a good example of Unitarian Universalism; encouraging spiritual growth and a responsible search for truth and meaning. (At times, this even costs us some fans, and we’re alright with that; we care more about depth than breadth in our reach.)
What we hope for most is that these post lead to conversations. We hope the conversations lead to mutual understanding and growth. Honest communication has to focus on listening as much as talking; admitting one’s limited perspective. The object should never be about winning, but about reaching consensus. Being understood so that each side has learned something.
We cannot make people engage in conversations, and we can’t make them do so honestly and with an open mind. We are still proud to host those conversations, because we know that they sometimes work as we hope; some people have grown because they heard an idea in a new way.
Some UUs are in a comfortable place; a place of privilege or of inertia. They need us to encourage them to occasionally re-examine their beliefs and perspectives. We need to introduce new ideas and have deep conversations about them. Our principles require us to exchange ideas and urge us to doubt our own inclinations, probing them for bias and unfairness. We do this together, in love and esteem for each other.
The thing about that quote, about disturbing the comfortable, is to remember that they immediately become the disturbed, whether they are fellow congregants, old friends from college, or fundamentalist family members. If we bring in the idea that upsets their world view, we need to consider whether we can then help them understand it. We need to be prepared to offer our time, or at least further resources. We need to know that growth can be scary, and when we leave people disturbed, we run a real risk of leaving them unwilling, even unable, to grow in a healthy way. We can even make it harder for them to do so later.
Our Principles call for a more just world, but also a more compassionate world. We cannot let people fear that they will be left behind from that beloved community. We can’t get there without them. They deserve to know that.
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