Some of my friends have asked my opinion about actions to take in the face of an America we don’t recognize anymore. The pain many of us feel is very real. It has less to do with a shift in political ideology and much more to do with an atmosphere we sense around us. Hate crimes have skyrocketed since the election. Some of our fellow citizens feel warranted to freely express hateful feelings and thoughts and call them “refreshing” and “honest.” Children are being bullied in school—in what by every right is their safe space. Kindness, compassion, fellow-feeling begin to seem like quaint throwbacks. Even worse, actual facts and evidence are throwbacks too.
What to do? My own suggestion is to start by nurturing community and connections where you are. The empathy gap thrown into sharp relief by this election cycle demands a response. Too many of us rely on the echo chamber provided by our online communities. Our outrage builds but so does our sense of helplessness. Let me suggest that individual activism in community with others can be a powerful expression of resistance and a way to protect the vulnerable among us.
Now is a time for ingathering. In my spiritual tradition of Unitarian Universalism, ingathering happens every fall as the season deepens. Ingathering is a homecoming. We celebrate the covenant that binds us together and look forward to the work of the year. Ingathering is a deeply introspective and creative time. It recognizes that in the sere darkness of the longest nights of the year, a tiny light will persist and grow.
My experience of Unitarian Universalism is always filtered through our First Principle: the inherent worth and dignity of every person. This idea has always been my guiding light; when I first found Unitarian Universalism in 2001, it felt like coming home in large part because of the First Principle. Ingathering is an opportunity to ground ever more deeply in it. We have an opportunity now to look in the faces of those who surround us, to listen to their stories and better understand where we’re going together. Now is the time to build on our strength in preparation for whatever is to come.
In the depth of darkness, we gather to call the light. Join us.