Dear WUUC Community,

I’ve been thinking an awful lot about this divided country we live in, and how the divides and polarization seem to be happening at every level; certainly, we see it at the national level, in our congress and senate. It’s happening at the state, county, and municipal levels, too. So it would be silly to think that our communities and families aren’t also affected by it.

I’m trying to understand the dynamics behind all of this divisiveness that, sadly, all too often results in distrust, hate, and violence. Why and how is this happening? How can we do things differently so that this is not the result?

One thing I’ve noticed is an inability (or an unwillingness) to tolerate someone who thinks differently than we do. We each seem to have our particular issues that we use as litmus tests for determining whether we can include a person in our life (if a person doesn’t agree with me about Y, then there is no room for them in my life). I agree that our time and energy are limited resources, and we must be mindful and intentional of where we invest them. But I am somewhat worried that we are experiencing a tendency toward surrounding ourselves with only those who think like we do, and intentionally excluding from our life and experience those who think differently. I find this worrisome because I believe it is exactly the opposite approach to what my faith tells me is necessary to build the Beloved Community.

I have heard many Unitarian Universalists (here at WUUC and in other places and congregations) share that they enjoy belonging to “a community of like-minded folks.” I like that they like their community, but I worry that the source of that feeling of belonging comes from like-mindedness. I worry about this, because what happens then when we come to something we disagree about? Is that it? One of us has to leave the community? Our basis for acceptance of one another cannot hinge upon whether we are like-minded. Can we shift, instead, toward being like-hearted? I am reminded of the quote often attributed to Unitarian Francis David (but likely actually came from John Wesley, a Methodist; either way, it’s a good quote):

We need not think alike, to love alike.

I hope we can sit with this, and see how it affects us. See if what I’ve been observing you also are seeing. If you are, and if you are as troubled by it as I am, I wonder if we can consider making a shift from being like-minded to being like-hearted? If we can start by accepting the person, even if we don’t accept all of their ideas? My hope is that this is the shift that will change the trajectory of our divided nation. And it starts, not at the top, but right here in our homes and communities. Grass-roots, not trickle-down. I don’t know if it will work. But I’m hopeful, and that hope inspires me to try.

Will you try with me?

Peace and Blessings,