BOARD PRESIDENT’S NEWSLETTER COLUMN – JANUARY 2017
I dare say that many of us in our little community are beginning 2017 with a sense of relief – at least 2016 is over! We experienced real losses this past year, both within our congregation and more distant ones. And for those surprised by November’s election results, reactions have included fear, confusion, anger, even depression.
Unitarian Universalism is guided by seven principles, among these the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process; the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; and respect for the interdependent web of all existence. Based on the electoral campaign, it may be fair to assume that these UU principles are not at the heart of the incoming Administration.
I find comfort in problem-solving, so like many others initially I took to Facebook. But it didn’t take me long to be reminded that Facebook is not activism. While social media can be useful for making us feel connected with others, this connection is something of an illusion. Post-election reports abound on how social media limits political discussion to likeminded others, is based on algorithms that limit exposure to diverse news, and is responsible for spreading fake news. While defending your position on social media might be a conversation, it is not action. Instead, it is an echo chamber, validating our own views as we put them in writing, and alienating us further from those who disagree with us. Because it’s not face-to-face, it’s impossible to actually hear one another and we simply become more entrenched.
Change is frightening, but even change in the wrong direction may have long-term benefits, like shaking up a population that has become complacent and perhaps taken democracy for granted. In this election, almost 93 million people – 40% of eligible voters – did not vote. If you were unhappy with the election results, it may be time to get involved in the democratic process.
For those inspired to get involved in promoting change, please consider talking to your Social Justice Committee. Chalice has laudable social justice goals, but at present we only have enough hands to take action on a fraction of these. The Social Justice Committee is working on some great group events, so talk to Committee Chairs Deb Coon and Rev. Elizabeth for information.