Newsletter: May 2015

New England Region UUA

LOVE'S RADICAL CALL 

by Hilary Allen and Meck Groot

In our work, we frequently draw on Dr. King's definition of justice as

"love correcting everything that stands against love." 

 

By this definition, love is not a feeling so much as a practice -- a practice of transforming the things that get in the way of love and divide us from each other. This includes structures that exclude, systems that punish or silence, preferential treatment, destruction of Mother Earth. Love is the practice of building right-relationship at all levels: internally, interpersonally, institutionally, culturally, environmentally. 

 

Love's purpose is not to win but to healIt does not fight against those who oppress or oppose us; it always aims for connection. It does not seek to shame others into doing the right thing, but seeks to remind each of us that our wealth is in the gifts by which we serve each other. 

 

Dr. King also said, "Love is the willingness to go to any length to restore community." Love therefore compels us to do whatever it takes to unite across separation.

 

With this newsletter, we introduce the New England Region readership to a new website: BetheLove.net.

As noted on the home page, BetheLove.net is "a place of inspiration for living and building Beloved Community." The site is a project of staff in the Pacific Western and the New England Regions. It includes

We have been a little slow in rolling out  this website, in part because responses so far have run a gamut. Some people "get it" immediately. In fact, one man confessed to being so spellbound as he worked his way from page to page that he spilled his breakfast into his lap. At the same time, a friend of ours says that he does not hear talk of Beloved Community taking into account the culture of oppression and control. He hears us as saying, "Just love each other and the problems will disappear."

 

We're not talking about love without power. In the same speech quoted above, Dr. King says:

 

"...we've got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic."

 

Love is a practice that applies as much to how we behave interpersonally as to how we structure institutions, make decisions, allocate resources, navigate differences of culture and rank, address histories of conflict, and return to sustainable life ways. It is as much about what we are creating as what we are trying to dismantle.

 

The UUA's "Standing on the Side of Love" campaign invites Unitarian Universalists to stand with marginalized communities. To do so is a practice of love. The campaign invites us show up, speak up, protest, march, bear witness, get arrested and forge strong partnerships. It invites us to do what we can to change oppressive policies and practices that give some people access while leaving others in the cold.

 

But to stop there is to miss love's greater, deeply radical call: healing the rifts that prevent us from seeing and experiencing the worth and dignity of people on any "side." Love remembers that we all and already belong to one another. Only love is radical and powerful enough to unify us across any divide we experience or can imagine.

 

As we work "against" forces of oppression both within and beyond our congregations, we must also be working into a time "beyond" systematized oppression. We must practice in this mean time the ways of Beloved Community, to build the collective muscle for living and being Love. If we don't, what will happen to us if we "win"?

 

It is our hope and prayer that BetheLove.net can be one contribution toward inspiring us to remember, believe and practice living into "the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible."

 

RESOURCES TO SPARK FURTHER REFLECTION ON THE PRACTICE OF LOVE

In 2013, Al Sharpton performed for The Moth Radio. In his story "Conviction," he reflects on what it means to be "convicted" to one's deepest values. After an attempt on his life, he learns how much is asked of us when we are truly committed to being in right-relationship.

 


Link to the video

In this Yes! magazine article, Grace Lee Boggs writes about rethinking the concept of Beloved Community and its importance for social change work. She asks, "Might events have taken a different path if we had found a way to infuse our struggle for Black Power with King's philosophy of nonviolence?" 

 


Link to the article
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