Sunday, 12 February 2012

Love, understanding and a supportive hand

The Unitarian spiritual community extends beyond our own congregational or local boundaries.  All local communities are part of a wider district and are all members of the General Assembly.  We take our place within international networks like the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists.  What allegiance do we owe to any of these? Should we be compassionate in our actions and our words towards those we would call our spiritual bedfellows (or such like!). 

Facebook is a means of discussing issues with fellow Unitarians and those who are interested in it.  You might be forgiven for thinking that what goes on in the UK Unitarian Facebook group is a reflection of UK Unitarianism as it has 315 members but there are probably no more than 30 active, regular commentators.

In recent months we have lost some contributors because of the way that discussions have gone or what particular people have written.  Sometimes it is difficult to keep the faith when people make quite pointed or judgemental comments towards individuals - in particular if that individual is you.

I awoke this morning to find one particular post entitled 'This is the *rubbish* Unitarians say' thread. What should be in it?'  The word wasn't rubbish but let's gloss over that.  A fairly high profile Unitarian was inviting others to be critical of their fellow Unitarians. What was the purpose to this?  Was it to build community?  Was it to express compassion to our fellow Unitarians? Was it to explore what people think, to try to understand?  Was it a marketing ploy to increase the number of people attracted to Unitarianism?

It appears that what a question like this does is create a Unitarian universe where there are us and them.  Us - we - are good, forward- thinking, the saviours of Unitarianism in the UK today.  Them - they - are the ones who have questionable ideas, say bad things and are driving Unitarianism into oblivion.  This is a dualistic world.  This is a world of conflict.  This is a world where we look at the mote in everyone else's eyes but do not look at the mote in our own.

Thankfully only six people participated in this thread. One actually said, 'Every point of view is valid in its own way, whatever size.'  However this is an open group - anyone who has a Facebook account can see it.  Is this really what we want to be showing to the world - is this how we want to be 'marketing' Unitarianism?  'Hey, come join this group of people - some of whom talk rubbish and others who like to think that they don't and point the finger at those who they think do.'

I believe that I have said some startlingly daft things in the past and continue to do so.  I believe that I am full of contradictions and prejudice.  I believe that working in community I can become a better person.  Because I believe that about myself then I believe that about other people.  I do not grow by being sniped at or put down.  I do not grow by people picking on one thing that I have said and rubbishing that.  I do not grow by having those who consider themselves better than me lecturing me.  I grow when people show me love, understanding and a supportive hand.  

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