Portland, Oregon feels far away. The events unfolding there feel foreign and unreal. However, it is vital that we remain connected, that we pay attention, and that we speak up for justice. What is happening in Portland could soon happen in Chicago or Detroit.
I’ve lived here in Mount Pleasant for almost a year now. I’m starting to get a sense of this community…its rhythms and its relationship to the wider world. Because of our location, we can feel isolated. Yes, major U.S. cities like Detroit and Chicago are a few hours away by car—but a few hours north or west brings you to wilderness, forest, beaches, open water. This geographical fact of our location means that we can choose to orient either toward civilization or away from it. We have been blessed with relatively few cases of the coronavirus, and the counties north of us even fewer—but the Detroit area, and recently the Grand Rapids area, have been hot spots. Therefore we could be complacent or concerned, depending on which way we direct our gaze.
Locally, we had our moments of protest for Black Lives soon after the killing of George Floyd. The protests in Portland, which have continued since then, seem far away. But we should be paying attention to the deployment of federal police forces there, sparking further violence and unrest. We should be paying attention to the imminent expansion of those police tactics to other cities. This is a time unlike any other in this nation, a crisis of public health and of civil rights in the waning days of a presidency founded on racism. While we stay grounded in our central Michigan home, we must be connected to neighbors both nearby and far away. We must renew our vigilance and stay engaged.
Unitarian Universalism is a faith of action and engagement. It is a faith concerned more with this life than with what happens to us after this life is over. Our principles include the use of the democratic process; justice, equity and compassion in human relations; and peace. And our principles include spiritual growth.
I should, therefore, walk in the forest and enjoy the river in this place I call home; and I should support those protesting for racial justice and denounce those who are assaulting them anywhere in this nation I call my home. Both of these are in harmony with my religious principles.
Spirit of Life and Love, may the people of Boston, and of Miami, and of Mount Pleasant, and of Portland be united for love and justice. May all of us look within to find the instinct for loving our neighbor; for celebrating the freedom to be who we are in our beautiful diversity. May we nurture within us this fierce love that says everyone is worthy.
And may we, all people of good conscience, keep our eyes open to acts of evil, acts of fear, acts of violence, acts of hatred. May the strength within keep our sight clear so that we see when someone moves to harm our brothers, sisters, siblings, cousins. May the strength within give us courage to speak and to act to protect all who struggle for justice in the name of love.
May it be so, in my community and across this nation.
Aho. Amen. Blessed be.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
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Rev. Andrew Frantz
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