Hello WUUC Community,
I keep hearing (and only halfway in jest) that folks are done with 2020; that we’ve already faced more than a year’s worth of corruption, destruction, oppression, depression, cancellation, and frustration. And not only have we been dealt a horrible set of circumstances (a pandemic, social isolation, economic turmoil, hurricanes, fires, etc.), but I am finding that perhaps more than the circumstances themselves, I am disappointed by the unbelievable responses to these conditions that some people have chosen: not wearing masks, or refusing to follow other common-sense (and very easy) health practices; believing baseless conspiracy theories; and generally rejecting basic truths and demonstrable facts. And much of this is to justify hateful and dehumanizing attitudes and behaviors.
How did we get here?
When studying the Holocaust in middle school, I wondered how so many people could be convinced to participate in or go along with something so obviously evil. I couldn’t understand how an overwhelming majority of folks at the time didn’t just stop it from happening.
Well now, as we face our current circumstances, I find myself in a dark moment of reckoning with my beliefs about the nature of us humans. I long ago rejected the Calvinist theology of human depravity and original sin; instead, I leaned more in the direction of original blessing, a term coined by Episcopal priest Matthew Fox, and a belief in the inherent goodness of humans. But this current moment has me reconsidering our human capacity for good and evil. Our goodness is certainly not a given. The agency we possess as humans, our free will, means that we have the ability to choose evil. To choose hate. And sometimes, we do.
But while this is true, so is the opposite: any human goodness in the world is because humans choose goodness. In difficult times (such as these), my optimism comes not from believing that we will always do good over evil because we are predisposed to do so, but that good is an option for us to choose. We have that option. We can choose goodness over evil. We can choose compassion, justice, and love. All of these are resources that, in the words of pre-eminent 20th century theologian and Unitarian minister James Luther Adams, “are available for the achievement of meaningful change [and] justify an attitude of ultimate optimism.”
We have what we need to make the world better. Now we must decide to do it. After all, we have other options.
But even now, when many seem ready to give up on 2020, I will choose to do everything I can to ensure it ends better than it started. My Unitarian Universalist faith tells me it is possible.
Will you join me?
Peace and Blessings,
 Adams, James Luther. On Being Human Religiously. Ed M. Stackhouse, Beacon Press, 1976, p 19.