The Sixth Principle

Last two, then I’ll have to find something else to post about. I’m sure I’ll find something. Wee bit of housekeeping before I move along to dissecting the Sixth Principle, I’m changing from posting on Fridays to posting on Mondays. Seems like that is what is happening anyway, so rather than fight life, I’m going with the flow. I now have a smart phone and it is a blessing. That little thing is keeping me organized. And it does so much to make my life easier and help me learn new things.

The Sixth Principle of the Unitarian Universalists is: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. That is rather large and most likely, unattainable. Rather than being a drawback, it’s size and inability to be attained make it so much more powerful and forceful. Anyone can work towards something easily attained, we do it all the time. This principle on the other hand, calls everyone to be in right relation with everyone else. There are no exceptions, period. Think about that, it’s pretty radical. It always reminds me of the First Principle, the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and the Second, justice, equity and compassion in human relations. Sounds like it’s already been covered, right?  No, this is taking it up a level, making it bigger and more forceful.

This Principle is worthless without the First. The First Principle lays the foundation of the Sixth. The First Principle is why there must be justice and liberty for all. If you really respect everyone, it follows that you must want liberty and justice for all and you must treat everyone with compassion. If you want justice, equity, and compassion when you’re dealing with others, then you simply must have respect for everyone.

The difference between the Second and Sixth Principles is one of scope. The Second deals with individuals, where the Sixth is talking about groups. The Sixth follows from the Second like it does from the First. You can’t want liberty and justice for all if you don’t want justice and equity for everyone. If you do want justice and equity for everyone and you want to see everyone treated with compassion, liberty and justice for all flows from those.

Let’s break this down some. Justice for all. This is something Christians really ought to be trying to bring about. There are numerous calls in the Bible for justice. It’s easy to be cynical about that, but the Bible calls for justice for everyone. And this is in the Old Testament, with the God who strikes people down and destroys cities. Yet, there it is. Justice is holding people accountable for their actions.

Liberty for all. That sounds big and impossible. This is because you are holding people accountable. If they aren’t free to choose their actions, then they cannot be held accountable for them. Everyone, regardless of who they are, must be given the freedom to become who they are without apology. Even if don’t like who they are, you must still allow them to be who they are.

Now for the biggest one of all, world peace. This is one we’ll likely never see, yet is very important. World peace will only be achieved by treating everyone with compassion and equity and seeking freedom and justice for all. No other way will lead to a stable peace. Even though we’ll never actually get there, it is important to try. Each step closer to world peace means fewer people being killed and maimed, fewer people who have invisible scars, and more resources available for the health and welfare of the people of earth.

Transgender People and Prison

Seeing an article about a local trans woman having issues with the county jail has made me realize how poorly trans women are treated in prison. She is being denied HRT and was being housed in a men’s prison. When they don’t put us in the wrong prison, they put us in solitary confinement. There is no need for this. There is no need for trans people to be treated so poorly.

Hormone Replacement Therapy is a medical treatment used to effect desirable physical changes in those who are transgender. It also tends to produce positive mental effects. Stopping this treatment suddenly can have severe physical and mental repercussions. Among other things, sudden stoppage can cause extreme dysphoria which can lead to suicidal ideation.

I know this one is a bit short, there really isn’t much that I can say other than we really need to rethink how we think about those who are in prison. We need to get rid of this idea that whatever happens to them in prison is their fault. We are responsible for their well-being. Honestly, we need to move past this idea that these people need punishment. What they need is a reason to not go back to a life of crime and tools to do so. This is even more true for those who are trans. Often, what happens to them is considered to be their fault for being trans. This attitude of ours must stop and it must stop now.

 

Fifth Principle

On to the Fifth Principle. It is: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large. This one is another two parter, only this one seems to have two parts that don’t really fit together. They sort of, kind of, go together, but I really think they should have been separated. The first half pertains to individuals and the second to congregations and is how Unitarian Universalists seek to have society operate.

Well, let’s look at the first half first. It’s really short, only four words, but it is very powerful. Everyone has the right to act according to their conscience, however; that doesn’t mean we get a blank check. Oh no, we are responsible for our actions. I really think care must be exercised with this because we are responsible for what we do. When our conscience pulls us in a direction, it is up to us to make sure that it is our conscience and that we are prepared for the consequences of the actions of our conscience. We must make sure we have sufficient knowledge before action is taken. We must also make sure the action we intend to perform is truly in accord with the result we intend. Our intentions need to be questioned, so we know if they are truly what we want.

The second half is all about using the power of democracy to run things. There is an assumption that using a democratic process is always better than any other approach. I’m not so sure. I am not fond of statements that say there is only one right way of doing things. It has been my experience that such a way of thinking leads to the continuance of bad ways and the prevention of good ways of doing things. I have seen one problem with the democratic process, it can be used to make it look like everyone is being heard when there are people who are not. On the other hand, I have seen an autocratic process have true inclusivity, not that I am, in any way, suggesting that autocratic processes are better, only that sometimes different approaches are best.

I want to explore that a bit more. There is this idea that the only way to include everyone is to take a vote. If we waited for the majority to come around to ending segregation, we’d be waiting an awful long time. One of the big problems with democracy is that it silences minorities. As an example, my current church is in the process of replacing the pews with chairs. The minister has the power to make that decision and force it on everyone. Instead, he is taking the time to hear what others have to say about the change. Whereas, in my previous church, there was an issue where the majority rolled over the minority and created some really bad feelings. There was no real attempt to listen to those who thought differently. None of the leadership sat down with any of them to simply listen without judgment. Why?  Because of the belief in the democratic process. They believed that by simply allowing people to come to meetings, that was all they needed to do to include both sides. It tore the church apart.

So, I guess what I’m saying here is don’t take anything to extreme. Don’t fill your toolbox with nothing but hammers. If you do, then you won’t have the tools needed to address the situation. Sometimes, one person needs to be the one to run the show, other times, you really want many people.

The Fourth Principle

While I no longer identify as Unitarian Universalist, the Seven Principles are still very important to me. The Fourth Principle is, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. I rather like this principle as it has two pieces that I find really important, being free to find your own meaning and being responsible during your search.

What is truth?  I mean that really. Is truth something that is dependent on the person seeking it?  Is it absolute?  Does it even exist?  If you think I can answer this question, you are crazy. I don’t think we will ever be able to truly know what the nature of truth really is. The important thing is that we are able to determine what our truth is. However, one thing to keep in mind is that how you perceive things affects others. That is where the word responsible comes in. You are responsible for your search and where it leads, so you have to be careful during your search. I see so many people who don’t think they need church because they have their own spirituality, their own practice. It is very easy to start down a road that isn’t good for you if you don’t have anyone to check in with you. That is why worshiping with others is important. It doesn’t have to be constant, but checking in with someone on occasion, just to make sure you aren’t headed off a cliff is a good idea.

Meaning, what does that mean?  Well, I think it means what we see as our purpose in life. What are we meant to do with the little bit of time we are allotted?  We aren’t given instruction books when we’re born, so we have to find our own meaning in this world. Since each person must find their own meaning, each of us needs to be free to embark on that journey. Not only to embark and navigate our own journeys down the river of life, also to pull up on the shore and say we need a rest.

The responsible part really jumps out at me. There are a lot of people who want the free part and most people will let others have that freedom. One of the problems I see is how people don’t want to be responsible for their beliefs. And others mostly don’t want to hold others responsible for their beliefs. Without being held responsible for your beliefs, you can have some beliefs that run counter to your core beliefs. That is why I like trying to explain my beliefs here, that way I can dig out those beliefs that are contrary to my core beliefs.