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Minister's Corner - November 2022

October and November have taken on a new uncomfortable twist since childhood for me. The kind of moral pain only new awareness can create. I suspect that you have felt it too. It’s the challenge that we UU’s specialize in. I am, as you might imagine, referring to the change in the way most of us think about Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, and how they have morphed into Indigenous People’s Day, and how the myths of cooperation highlighted symbolically by Thanksgiving have been turned on their head.

It’s hard. The curtain has been torn. We now know how bad the white world is and how the people most of us white people can and should think of as our ancestors were. “Our” White European ancestors behaved abhorrently… period.

How does anyone even remotely enlightened about the abuse Native people experienced say any more without feeling like they are just emotively wringing their hands? I don’t. I don’t think accounting any more of those gruesome narratives is either new news, a challenge to our sensibilities, or very helpful.

I would like us to begin by agreeing that history is filled with humans doing the unthinkable to each other. And that generally if not always, the worst acts are done by those holding power and privilege. The aggressors, the more powerful, and the more ambitious usually start it, and to me obviously bear most of the obvious blame.

But, without wanting this to sound like an excuse, because it is not, back then we did not know…

  • we all shared the same DNA

  • we, the Europeans at least, didn’t know then that we would threaten a finite planet

  • we didn’t know then that given the vastness of history, Pocahontas and Cleopatra are virtual cousins

  • we didn’t know then that despite different hair and color, nearly all of what really differentiates any human from another is our varied cultures and experiences, not some innately different constitution.

  • we did not know that we all shared the same potential, and

  • we certainly didn’t know that from a God’s eye view we shared the same FATE!

Back then we truly appeared more different to each other. We had more myths, more illusions, and less of a history of interacting with each other. All that contributed to creating much more flamboyant “other’s” of each ethnic group. And when you “other” usually that is permission and a precursor to oppression

Jefferson, a brilliant and insightful human being who was forward thinking about democracy, and the false divinity of Monarchy as we all know had slaves. In fact Jefferson at one point believed sending slaves back to Africa was the best option.

And Channing the insightful initiator of Unitarians, one of the three great prophets that along with Emerson and Theodore Parker, brought us out of the theological closet believed that “the negroes” Channing believed that slaves would need some help and time, getting used to freedom, and should not be too quickly emancipated.

And you know what, I and likely you too, would have fallen prey to those now short sighted ideas too. We are all mostly products of our time. We almost, if we have inner integrity can’t think of ourselves as different than that, but we are wrong.

You, me, each of us are unique products of your time.

Someone who is ahead or behind “Their Time” almost never really is that much different than their peers. Life is like that.

All of this was rooted in a short-sighted sense of what human destiny was going to be. I think that spreading a different idea of what our Manifest Destiny is than the one that captivated our consciences back in the 1800’s might be the key.

I might have liked a big idea like that then, because I deeply like the sound of something being my divine Destiny. No doubt because it is clear, clarifying, and purpose creating.

Had I been born in 1800, I probably would have never held, as I do today, that a real morality, a real ethics always asks me, in fact pushes me to draw the circle of who and what I care about a little wider than even I am inclined. I like and believe a similar big idea like that now.

And for that reason, I don’t really have a lot of judgment for those simple people who bought the righteousness that either the Popes or explorers conspired in the 1400s to be selling, or in the 1800s what Polk was selling.

My big idea is that our ancestors jumped the gun on what “our” manifest destiny really is. See religiously, I am not such a nihilist, or skeptic that I don’t believe the truly “juicy” idea that we as a species are fated…. Have a destiny. Because, if you’re watching, humanity evolve, I think we do.

And call me a dreamer, but given enough time, I think it is becoming obvious, inevitable, dare I say “manifest” that a few things are true. But the funny thing is I do believe there is such a thing as a Manifest Destiny that we are a part of, and I think that the American experiment is a part of it.

I guess I am an old fashioned UU like that. I do think there is something of another destiny, a progress that is revealing or manifesting itself, even pulling us forward. I think it is destiny that we will conclude that what we call the “races” really are equal.

I think it is our destiny that we broadly as a species will come to believe that race is as we know it here, not a real thing, it is a construct, and that can never be said often enough, but I also think that it is increasingly clear …and that it will not be denied that men and women are each other’s equals too… and I believe, and see as part of my spiritual mission to conquer the long established domination of men over women, and just like it that white is better than black or brown, or red.

So for me it is destiny that that view, really the truth that we truly all are one will spread and become obvious.

It is not difficult to see that the inequalities attributed to different races, and most of the inequalities connected to gender are primarily rooted in oppression and an unequal access to the things we ironically demand people to have to garnish our respect.

While I am at it, It is becoming clearer and clearer that humanity will continue to see that “ones” sexual orientation or gender preference is not as we once assumed it, is even best described as a choice, as a given.

I take it on faith that there is something of a destiny that all those truths will spread. Just like it is our destiny that we will increasingly see ourselves as interdependent with the rest of earth’s flora and fauna.

And, that it is our destiny that we will realize our place on earth is a finite precious place we need to stop taking for granted and the only place in the universe we can really live in.

I believe also that it is something resembling a destiny that over time we will increasingly see that peaceful cooperation between and among the religious traditions as essential, and that it is fated that we will see each expression of religious truth as coming to offer “A”, not “The” version of depth, and sacredness.

See to me, those ideas are the real manifest destiny guiding or pulling us forward.

And as ironic as it may be, given this, I have faith that we will see “Manifest Destiny” and “the Doctrine of Discovery” that pre-ceded it, like we now see slavery, cannibalism, religious human sacrifice, and the idea the mental illness is caused by demons.

I think it is destiny that all that and a host of other backward thoughts will be seen as antiquated, ill-founded assumptions about our true place in the world and universe. And I think it is our destiny that those miss-truths will obviously pass away.

However, the easy thing is looking back and seeing what was wrong.

The hard thing is dedicating oneself and ourselves together to work to see that we make as much progress towards manifesting and discovering the truth that love and compassion and cooperation in all its political manifestations is our real destiny.



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