These last month or so has been full of heartbreak in the religious world, from the United Methodist Church’s decision to double down on their exclusion of LGBTQIA people, to the complicated conversation about the intersections of anti-semitism and sexism and islamophobia and racism surrounding Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments about AIPAC, to our own UU World’s publication of an egregious article that caused harm to our transgender/non-binary/genderqueer siblings, to last week’s appalling massacre of 50 Muslims gathering for prayer at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. My heart has been heavy and my stomach has been churning as I have watched the events unfold, and I’ve struggled with what to say to all of you as individuals and organizations far more eloquent than I have released the litany of responses and public statements that have filled my news feed.
So often, when major events like these happen, they feel far away to me from my own context here in Minnesota. Another denomination’s painful reckoning, a national debate about trans+ inclusion in UUism, a white supremacist shooting on the other side of the globe… They’re all shades of terrible, but what can I possibly do here, where I am?
I am reminded, yet again, that we always have the most power in the communities in which we are rooted, and in which we are the most connected. I’m also deeply aware that, as adrienne maree brown puts it in her principles of Emergent Strategy, “what we practice at the smallest scale sets the pattern for the largest scale.”
All of these horrific events have links to the interlocking systems of white supremacy, white nationalism, global imperialism, colonialism, Christian hegemony. All of them reveal how these ideologies of hate begin in individual hearts, and calcify into entire systems that cause violence against marginalized members of the community. And all of them compel us to create local responses right here, in our own state and in our own congregations.
We must think systemically as we work for collective liberation. But our “big picture” should never be an excuse to stay in our heads, nor should it keep us from seeing–and acting upon–the things in our own circles that we can transform here and now.
I’m including below a list of things to read, events to attend, and actions to take. Even though these things may seem disconnected from one another, let’s all remember that all systems of oppression are interconnected, and there is no single “issue area” that we can address without also looking at other injustices.
Beloveds, in these times that are so hard on our hearts and souls, may we all be both gentle and fierce. Let us each find our place in the struggle, and hold each other as we take shifts for the revolution and the repairing of our beautiful world.
In faith and solidarity,
Rev. Ashley Horan, MUUSJA Executive Director
A Resource List of Activities, Readings, and Ways to Plug In