Ten Thousand: A Reflection on Privilege, Gratitude, and Responsibility

Sometime today, maybe even before this post goes live, the I Am UU Facebook page will hit 10,000 Likes. 10,000 people who have chosen to identify with this project and its goals.

As I sat so often, the I Am UU project is not part of the UUA; it is not run by a congregation, cluster, or region within the UUA, either. It is a private ministry run almost entirely by one very fortunate person. That would be me.

I am lucky that I was born (and then adopted) into the situation I was; a white person who was comfortable in his body and with no real attraction to those of my own gender. I was smart, and I was given an education. I read well and I have learned to write with some skill. I live in a place where I have access, and indeed regular exposure to people who look, sound, and think differently than myself. In short, I have a lot of privilege in the world.

I am grateful for all of that, though there are some places where I still struggle. I have a learning disability; I have kids with special needs; I do not come from wealth, and I do not have my own so far. Still, I recognize that overall, my success has come in large part because I was lucky and I hope that over the past 10 years, I have started to take advantage of that luck and using it to better the world around me.

You see, it was 10 years ago that I realized that I had a responsibility to use my good fortune and the skills I had acquired to do something that mattered; something that made the world better. I thought I could use the internet to make the world a little more just, more compassionate, and more full of wonder and curiosity. I looked at the growing influence of social media and I jumped in with both feet. I met some amazing people there who helped figure out the strokes (to continue the swimming metaphor); they showed me how to keep my head above water and make the biggest waves without splashing anyone in the face accidentally. (Splashing people on purpose is another thing.)

It did take another year to come to Facebook, and a couple of years more to start to become the ministry that it is now. All the while, I was learning to bring even more skills and talents to bear on the project, devoting more and more of myself, my time, and my energy in an effort to make the best possible impact on the world. I wanted to share my gifts and allow them to help others.

When one understands that one has been lucky and that one has any degree of privilege, I hope we each come to understand that the best way to show our gratitude is to use whatever we have been given to make the world better. That we all have a duty to assist those who struggle more than we do by making the world more just. That we can shape our institutions so that they are easier to share, and so that every person is encouraged to be their own best self.I have been given a gift, and each and every one of you is part of giving that gift. I hope that you all feel my profound thanks for your time and energy. I hope that the attention you give to my work is never wasted; that it always feels like an investment that pays off in some way. I am lucky, and I hope that I have succeeded in living my gratitude.

 The I Am UU project is a lay-led, crowdfunded, grassroots effort to connect Unitarian Universalists more deeply with their faith and to spread the ideas, the values, and the understanding or liberal religion in the world. We could not do this without the support of our community; our success depends on the community for  feedback, for sharing our work, and for financial support.

Please consider becoming a Patron on Patreon. Even $1 a month would mean a great deal, as we hope to eventually spread this burden out over hundreds of people.

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