Affirming justice, equity and compassion in all our relations
Nate met a 1%er and it wasn't pretty. In this confessional sermon, Rev. Nate Walker struggles to live his own ideals. He says:
"We, as one strong body, are required to lead by being. When we feel the impulse to be the interrogator we must choose to be the generator of visions larger than ourselves. When we feel the impulse to be enraged we must accept the invitation to be empathetic and no longer make people the object of our aggression. When we feel the impulse to be furious we must be curious. When we feel the impulse to be righteous we must transform our soapbox into a music box. Let us dare to be powerfully playful."
"What does justice-making look like, feel like, when we receive hostile communication? Are we hostile in return? Or is something else required of us? What we choose to do is a reflection of who we believe ourselves to be. It all depends on our beliefs about power. I once believed it to be powerful to condemn wrongdoers. I believed it right to tear down another's unexamined assumptions and vaporize those whose presence was not worthy of my attention. I believed that others were the cause of my aggression: others were to blame for my feelings of despair, disappointment and righteousness indignation. Rather than anger being used as a signal it became the solution to all my problems. I felt good to fuel the addiction of righteousness. I was doing justice. I was doing justice. But! I was being an asshole. I am merely five years into my ministry and have long since mastered the art of being an asshole. I have spent far too much energy using the public forum as a battlefield, annihilating those perceived to be my enemy. I have armed myself with faithful friends, so that each time we walked into a room, those present would shade their gaze and whisper in dread, 'The UUs have arrived.' I used to believe that being feared was powerful. I used to believe it was my duty to free the oppressed, but when reacting with righteous anger, guess who became the oppressor? Thich Nhat Hahn says, "I came to set the prisoner free only to realize the prisoner was me."
"We, as seekers of freedom, are required to make justice not simply a product but a process: just actions are the means by which to achieve a justice society. When we observe oppression let us develop strategies that free not only the oppressed but also the oppressor. Those who use their power to deny freedom to others are also imprisoned and are also worthy of care. Do not let their unjust actions inspire us to justify employing cruel means, or else we'll soon become what we set out against. The challenge is this: take up the miseducation of justice making by stripping your conscience of images of equity that claim to manifest through condemnation, through humiliation, through shame and blame and righteousness indignation. No. The craft of justice making begins by marrying a just thought with a just action, inspiring us to collective action: daring to free both the oppressed and the oppressor, for which know what it's been like to be both. Don't get me wrong, stand we must; stand strong and bold, but rather than shoving our foot on the oppressor's neck let us instead reach out a hand, and show them, and even ourselves, a new way of leading by being. I do not know what this new way looks like, yet. But hopefully together we can figure it out."