There is a common question that those who believe in (or who have never been exposed to ideas other than) a judgmental or outright vengeful creator love to ask Universalists (Unitarian, UU or otherwise):
If you don’t believe in Hell, why bother being good?
.Many of you laughed a little at the thought. “Why be good if no one makes you?” just isn’t the way most Unitarian Universalists think. There is a story that Hosea Ballou, a famous Universalist of the early 19th century, was questioned about the issue of eternal damnation by Methodist colleague:
Said the Methodist, “if I were a Universalist and feared not the fires of hell, I could hit you over the head,steal your horse and saddle and ride away, and I’d still go to heaven!”
Ballou answered, “If you were a Universalist, the idea would never occur to you!”
That is the real message of Universalism that we don’t talk about enough. We don’t have to worry about what comes after death, and so we focus more on making the very best of this life. For those of us who believe in a loving creator, that love inspires us to be loving and to aspire to mimic the being we place our faith in. For those who believe in a detached or absent creator, or in none at all, it is more likely that our thoughts are of making this one life as meaningful as possible.
Whatever your version of the Universal fate that awaits us all, it is that belief that fosters our message of love in the world. We are all going to the same place, and it isn’t too early to figure out how to get along. It isn’t too soon to show the world what love and hope can do. We feel an urgency about justice and peace, because now is the time we control; this is all the time we have to live up to our values.