Hopes and Dreams in the New Year

by Craig Rock, Editor, Co-chair UUCT Social Justice Council

A few weeks ago I delivered the sermon on Human Rights Day at UUCT. I spoke of hopes and dreams in the context of Celebration, Remembering, and Resistance. I talked of the plight of human rights defenders around the world who put their lives at risk defending their neighbors and neighborhoods. Most we never hear about. They live in small villages, towns, and cities of faraway places fighting for a better life for the local people, clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, decent education, housing, food, and health care. Their lives are sometimes cut short because they stand up to gangs, cartels, and corrupt government officials.

Most of us will never have to stand up to gangs or cartels, but maybe to corrupt government officials. But in a way, all UUs are human rights defenders. Our spirituality, to one degree or another, is based on our seven principles, ranging from recognizing the inherent dignity of all people, to recognizing the rights of our fellow congregants in their pursuit of truth and meaning, to respecting the interdependent web of all existence of which we all are a part. And really wrapping it up, another one of our goals is creating a world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.

We wouldn't be true to our principles if we skipped the part about recognizing rights of other UU members in their search for truth and meaning. Complicating all of this is the aging population in many UU churches including ours. Many of us have health challenges that we must deal with if we want to stay reasonably healthy. And yet many of us want to see something accomplished before we depart this rather complicated planet called Earth.

We are no different from many UU congregations. "While it's true that UUs have been active in justice movements for decades, it seems to us that UU leaders and many congregations have embraced justice work as central to our movement in ways not seen in a long time - and in ways that some UUs are experiencing as unsettling or disruptive," the introduction reads in the current issue of UU World ("Do You Have to Be an Activist To Be A Unitarian Universalist? Six UU leaders reflect on activism and religious identity in a racially and politically charged era"). No matter what you think, you'll find support for your philosophy from one or more of the six people cited. For example, I especially liked the comments of Reverend Marilyn Sewell (Minister emerita of the First Unitarian Church of Portland):

"Not all UUs are inclined by personality or temperament to be activists. But do UUs need to care about social justice? Yes. That said, few UUs are people of color and I expect even fewer are working class, so it's difficult for most of us - or for most mainline Protestants - to identify with oppressed people: we are simply too comfortable.....(we) prefer circles of conversation, dabbling on the margins, rather than doing the hard work of social change, which requires getting in the street, witnessing at city council meetings, negotiating with the police chief, sitting on the railroad tracks and blocking the oil trains..."

But whether we are activists or members of the choir or armchair philosophers, or a combination of the above, we are all in this experiment called Plant Earth together. We all need clean air to breathe, safe water to drink and all the rest mentioned above. We need dreams and hopes. To read the entire UU World article, click here.

Just a few days ago, I came across a Bill Moyers' interview (2013) with Wendell Berry on his hopes for humanity. The video I'm sharing here includes readings by Berry ranging from "The Peace of the Wild Things" to "A Poem of Hope." Berry's thoughts are as relevant today as they were back in the days of Henry David Thoreau*, a major of influence on Wendell Berry from the mid 1800s.

Hope (by Wendell Berry)

It is hard to have hope. It is harder as you grow old,

for hope must not depend on feeling good

and there’s the dream of loneliness at absolute midnight.

You also have withdrawn belief in the present reality

of the future, which surely will surprise us,

Click here to read the full poem or click onlisten to it on the above video.

*Richard Higgins writes in UU World (Summer 2017), "Thoreau, who was baptized and raised a Unitarian, was, to put it mildly, one of our wayward youth. He never returned to the meetinghouse, but now, improbably, 200 years after his birth, the meetinghouse has come to embrace him. Unitarian Universalists today teach and celebrate the liberal religion he championed more vibrantly than ever. (Click here to read an interesting article on this earlier period of Unitarianism.)

The monthly newsletter of the

Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson

4831 E. 22nd Street, Tucson, AZ 85711, 520-748-1551, www.uuctucson.org.

To view previous editions of the newsletter, click here.

Newsletter editor: Craig Rock at newsletter@uuctucson.org.

Send us your editorials, stories, poems and photos.


Table of Contents

Page 1 - Hopes and Dreams in the New Year; Non Violent Communications Workshop; Poem: Release; Wendell Berry Interview.

Page 2 - Finance Report; Kafka Film; Announcements; Welcoming Potlucks; UURISE; Share the Plate.

Page 3 - Literature of the Borderlands Class; National Alliance on Mental Illness; MLK Breakfast; Class on "What is Politics."

Page 4 - Border Festival at Good Sheperd UCC; Uranium Mining Ban in Grand Canyon; Articles on Attacks on Public Lands.

From the UUA Website - Poetry by Peter Friedrichs


I wish I were like the trees,

Who let their leaves go

gracefully, without regret.

Or the tumbling stream

that flushes silt to sea,

Exchanging murkiness

for blessed clarity.

Or the dandelion,

who bows its head

to the subtle breeze,

Unleashing its future

without fear or loss.

Instead, I drive white-knuckled,

defensive, as we were taught,

Tense and guarded for

what may come my way.

I keep a death-grip

on my life.

If you asked me for my dying wish

It would not be for

ten more wishes.

It would be to let go

of wishing any more.

Wishing I’d made different choices,

and that I hadn’t hurt you

as I did.

And to forego these old and dusty

grudges that I keep like pictures

in a shoebox beside my bed.

I long to embrace my life

with a lover’s touch,

or as you would an injured wren:

precious, tender, true.

Instead, regret and fear,

twin anchors, hold me fast,

close in against the shore.

“Cast off! Cast off!”

I hear them call

from the open, exotic lands

my heart yearns for.

But the waters in between

my here and theirs

hold unknown hazards,

unlike this dark familiar port.

This day, a prayer:

To ease my grip

on what once was,

or what is meant to be.

That I may find

Myself content

To drift and float

Upon life’s boundless sea.