Day Two: Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
Yesterday I wrote about LBGT issues, and so I won't repeat that today, although there are a lot of justice and equity issues there. However, the agency I'm donating to today is the Human Rights Commission. This donation is in honor of my mother, who has been a consistent advocate for LGBT rights for many years, in church, educational, and workplace settings, and who is an inspiration to me.
But to talk some more about justice, equity, and compassion....
This has been a year when we've talked a lot about equity at our church, particularly about the lack of equity caused by racism. And racism has been a subject in the news a lot this year, too. Obama's winning the presidency is, admittedly, a huge triumph, and a large step towards equity in our society. People are talking about Obama as a "post-racial" figure and this as a post-racial society.
But we're not there yet. In gaining our first African American president, we lose our currently only African American senator. When McCain called him "that one," it almost sounded like there could only be one.
So yes, we're not there yet. And our community, in paricular, lags behind. It's one of the reasons that Jackson Justice Watch was formed here following our commUnity forUm on racism in Jackson. There was a definite sense at that forum that justice was not being given equally to black and white in this community. I don't know what the Jackson Justice Watch has found in that regard, but I do know that lack of equity exists in other areas. One only has to drive a few blocks from my house towards the east to watch how as the poverty level increases, so does the percentage of African Americans in the area. It's true everywhere across this nation.
Meanwhile, there was also incredible sexism in the campaign for the presidency. Hillary Clinton saw it. Sarah Palin saw it, too. And lest we think we're immune as UUs, there's talk about racism and sexism in the UUA presidential campaign season, too, in this blog post by Suzie at "Echidne of the Snakes" I found cited by the Interdendent Web. Suzie points, and rightly, I think, to the existence of acts of domestic violence against women among members of our congregations as evidence that "there are liberal men who have such twisted feelings about women that they brutalize them" and asks:
Shouldn’t we be taking “authentic steps of transformation” to stop domestic violence and other forms of abuse and discrimination among our members?Following our second principle means doing just that. But how? Our congregation has voted to support the Aware Shelter. It's one of the agencies we routinely pick for our quarterly collection. Members have talked passionately about how important it is that we support them. But there's not much that we've done lately, other than talk and a once-a-year basket. It's time to reaffirm our connection to them and do something deeper. I once went to them and asked to volunteer on a regular basis, but found that they only had the training for new volunteers twice a year, and I had just missed it. Perhaps it's time to ask again.
To return to the principle, it's interesting to me that our principle combines justice, equity, and compassion. I think compassion is the key. Too often I hear a lack of compassion for others, a lack of empathy. We harden our hearts against injustice, against the lack of equity. We're in survival mode. It was true before the economy started heading south, even. Too often we act like scavengers in a scarcity model. It's why we don't have nationalized healthcare yet--too many people have been convinced that universal healthcare means that they'll have to wait too long for a necessary procedure, and that puts the fear of death behind the hoarding of resources. It's why our schools are suffering, too, if you ask me--hoarding of resources.
If we only have compassion first, we can move towards justice and equity.