If Unitarian Universalism stands for love, it is wed to freedom. Freedom invites vision. Vision leads to change. Change causes anxiety. Anxiety awakens resistance. Abolitionist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper sought freedom from bondage for blacks and suffrage for women. Mary and Joseph F. Jordan sought to free blacks from poverty through education.
Freedom begets vision. Vision leads to change. To embrace change means welcoming someone with an open mind and responding with interest to different behavior or beliefs rather than with a raised eyebrow, frozen smile, and silence. See that reaction for what it is—a sophisticated way of masking fear. Hold that fear at bay and let your heart lead the way. Change means discomfort, and because of that discomfort, some people will leave.
They have in the past and will again. Let them go. For those who remain and commit, the discomfort becomes bearable when we recognize that it is for our benefit, that transformation is its result.
Healing the systemically transmitted virus that is racism is nothing less than grace. Grace—the moment when we sense within ourselves that something broken has become whole—cannot emerge without freedom. Stasis and control are fear’s bastion. Welcoming change means being open and adventuresome. It asks us to celebrate the breadth of theological and social diversity Unitarian Universalism already encompasses, and then to reach beyond it. It means recapturing the excitement we once felt about the new: the wonderment, the curiosity, the openness we knew as children before fear shut it down. It means seeing diversity as a gift we cannot wait to get our hands on.
Change will come whether we work for and celebrate it, or distrust and resist it, or simply wait. Our history says it will come whether we want it or not. For that we can be thankful.