Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast
Reaching Out ( February 2009 )
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Although many of us were understandably concerned when Obama chose Rick Warren, the
Christian conservative minister, to lead the prayer at his inauguration, I greatly appreciated the
clear message he was sending ... that the divisiveness of the past eight years is over. Obama's
reaching out to welcome in all the people that opposed him will help start the healing and the
coming together for the major sacrifices and reconnecting America so desperately needs right
We liberals find ourselves in a much different position now. In a way it was easier being on the "outside," challenging all that was happening. But now we are in charge, setting the direction our country takes. How will we lead? ... how will we treat those with whom we differed for so long?
Despite the blush of Obamamania sweeping the nation, we must not forget that 47% of America voted for McCain. We have an incredible opportunity now to heal the rifts and differences that were created and to build on what binds us together.
Obama is setting a standard, but as he says, real change only comes from the bottom up.
How many Republicans do you know? ... how many conservative Christians? ... how many "Joe the Plumbers?"
While it's human nature to build our associations with those who are "like us," we hurt them, ourselves, and our common future when our connections become limited. For those whose beliefs and lifestyles are different from ours, reaching out, connecting, and sharing our human commonalities works wonders in breaking down the fear, self-righteousness, and isolation that is the root cause of divisiveness.
But our reaching out offers even larger benefits. Meaningful connections with those whose beliefs we disagree with challenge and open us: we may well have become all too pat and comfortable with our own beliefs; we need regular exposure to other people, with widely different perspectives and ideas, to stay growing and alive.
It's helpful to always remember that each person is always doing the best they can . . . with what they've been through, with the resources they were given. What have they experienced that brought them to this place? Is there value here for me?
We UUs celebrate diversity as a religious principle. But we thrive when it becomes an active, living force in our lives. We can trust that their differences are, ultimately, their gifts for us. We only need to invite that exchange.
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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