The Church that Built My Politics

by Alexana Carter 3 months ago in opinion

Growing Up UU

The Church that Built My Politics

Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote seven principles that act as strong values and moral guides.

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
  • Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth.
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within congregations and in society at large.
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

My life in the church began not with a Baptism or Christening, but with a Dedication. This was the joining of my family and my congregation in their mission to look after my wellbeing and raise me in these seven principles. In the church I grew up in, differences were celebrated. Learning about differences allows our understanding and knowledge to grow in the search for truth and meaning by expanding our view beyond ourselves and our own experiences. It also is how we are able to truly and openly communicate with others.

That is a skill that is missing in a large portion of American society. People in every party, and not just the big two, need this skill. We all need this skill. We have forgotten it since our school days, or perhaps never learned it at all. Instead, we have learned to reject any reality that doesn’t align with ours. We have shut our ears, minds, and hearts to these other stories. We say that other viewpoints are false because we have not lived them, experienced them, felt them. We have lost the ability to understand and work together because we have lost the ability to listen.

Even as I write this, I recognize that I am also not perfect in this sense. While there are many issues I am willing and open to hearing other viewpoints on, there are issues so close to my heart that I am unable to empathize with a differing view. I am constantly working on keeping my heart, mind, and ears open to these other viewpoints, even if there are views I will not budge on. Those views form our values.

This is what America is missing. The corruption, name-calling, bickering, and stalemating in our politics has seeped into our entire society. Our values have been split and changed by the rhetoric of all our leaders. We are no longer unified in our values or views for this country.

There’s an idea that America once had this unity, though I’m not sure when. This country was founded on the freedom to have differences, but our history and our present both seem to be riddled with the oppression of differences being realized and fought over.

I dream of an America where differences are celebrated. Not everyone does, and I think that comes from a view that they won’t be celebrated among these differences. I think it comes from a fear that manifests as anger. It takes recognizing this within yourself to realize that celebrating all differences means everyone gets to celebrate who they are every single day.

There are two things I could share with someone to explain my hopes and dream for the world. Both come from the church I grew up in. The first is their affirmation.

“Love is the doctrine of our church;

The quest of truth is its sacrament,

And service is its prayer.

To dwell together in peace,

To seek knowledge in freedom,

To serve humanity in fellowship,

To the end that all souls shall

grow in harmony with the divine—

Thus do we covenant with each other.”

The second is the doxology.

“From all that below the skies

Let songs of faith and hope arise.

Let peace on earth, goodwill be sung,

From every land by every tongue.”

These were two of my favorite parts of church service growing up, and they’ve shaped my world view and values. They’ve shaped how I communicate. They’ve shaped my hopes, dreams, and life choices. They’ve shaped what I want America to be, which is true to the dreams it was founded on.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..."

Freedom, for all.

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Alexana Carter

Hi, I'm Alexana. I'm 23. Trauma survivor, dog lover. Depression and anxiety thanks to genetics. CPTSD thanks to life. Wife of a disabled veteran due to Crohn's Disease.

See all posts by Alexana Carter