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Spirituality Essay:

Reconciliation 2 of 2    ( December 2004 )

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As I write this, the day before Election Day, who our next President will be is unknown. It may well be, with all the challenges and states too-close-to-call, that that will be unfortunately still true when you read this.

I am one of the many who emerged from this past election with many concerns. The internet discussion of widespread fraud, the worry about "in your face" right-wing political/religious agendas, and the polarization of our country are strongest.

We UUs, I believe, are in a very unique position to help heal the wounds this election wrought.

The distrust, fear, and animosity between the red states and blue states (promulgated primarily by the conservatives, I believe) has grown to a very unhealthy level, based on each side's fear that the other is out to force its values and beliefs down the other's throats.

There are many reasons for this . . . beyond what I can write here . . . but prominent among them, I think, is an increasing isolation from others with different views. The absence of real interaction and dialogue helps turn the others into stereotypes, demons even . . . we lose sight of their essential humanness, their struggles, the many commonalities we share together. I'm reminded that John Kenneth Galbraith (a far left liberal) and William Buckley (an acerbic conservative) were best of friends. And Ted Kennedy and Orin Hatch are reputedly good friends as well.

Do you have any "friends" of a different religious-political persuasion? It's a wonderful thing, I think. A broadening, opening, humbling

(not-taking-yourself-so-seriously-and-righteously), and truly caring experience seems to unfold . . . and is so healthy -- for both sides!

Consider inviting someone "of the other persuasion" you know to coffee, getting to know them more as a person, finding out some of the

areas you both agree on (like the importance of family). It never seems to work trying to change their views, but gently trying to understand why they believe differently (for their beliefs are effectively meeting their view of reality), as you explain yours, works nicely.

I do believe we UUs are especially suited for this important task. Beyond the UU first principle, which affirms "the inherent worth and dignity of every person", we approach this from our wonderful Unitarian liberal spirituality foundation . . . to create a life that is always: 1) seeking, discovering, learning, and growing; 2) improving our ability to give and receive love; and 3) being of service to humankind.

Finding ways to connect with those we disagree with can help reduce our country's rift, and equally beneficially, produce wonderful spiritual fruit in our own gardens.

This is one in a series of essays on spirituality by Rick Childs, lay leader of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast. You may want to:
Read more Spirituality Essays
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