I have spent much of today making the rounds and checking in with people on my campus I thought might be reeling from the results of the election, and from the responses to those results that compound the hurt they experienced during this long and bitter campaign season. And while I hoped I might be of some help to people who are hurting, I find that the act of reaching out and connecting has been balm for my own bruised soul. I’m glad for the respite from social media, even as I am mindful that this virtual space too is my mission field. So I’ve made my way back here with some thoughts and words that had until now been hard for me to find.
To all my women friends, and my LGBTQ friends, and my black and brown friends, and my immigrant and international friends, and my friends from various faith backgrounds (including Christians) or from no faith—I know many of you are hurting right now. I know that many of you experienced this result as a grievous and wounding attack on your very persons. For you, I know, this decision goes way beyond politics and policy and law and government—goes directly and painfully to whether there is a place for you at all in the new nation we all woke up to. And I hurt because you’re hurting.
Thanks to my walkabout earlier today, though, I know more than that. I know that you are amazing in your beauty, power, resilience, and dedication to the well-being of each other and of our community as a whole. I know that however much you might be reeling from what’s happened, you are absolutely and emphatically there for each other—and for me. I’m honored and awed by the privilege of being in ministry with you and to you and on your behalf. And I’m pledging to you right now that I will never stop standing with you and fighting for you and working to bring about the vision of beloved community we share.
At United Campus Ministry, where I am called to serve, we have always held ourselves accountable to the scriptural ideal that the justness of our community is measured by how we treat the widow and the orphan and the stranger, how we treat those on our margins. We have always dedicated our heart and soul and mind and strength to loving our neighbors—all of our neighbors—as ourselves. We have always concerned ourselves with speaking truth to power and with bringing the voices of those whose voices have been disregarded to the ears and the hearts of those who hold and wield that power. These things we have always done are who we are, and there’s no way we’re going to stop now. Because you—all of you—deserve nothing less.
Click on the link above to see a very special message from former UCM intern and Saturday Lunch champion, Shannon Stewart! And here’s a special message from Saturday Lunch founder, Joe Buzzelli!
Join us on October 15 at 1pm to celebrate 10 years of Saturday Lunch, UCM’s 2nd weekly free meal which, along with Thursday Supper, provides more than 5,000 meals annually, hundreds of service hours for students and others, and a unique opportunity to bridge and the build the Athens and Ohio University community!
We are raising $10K for 10 years to renovate our kitchen and dining room. Visit our YouCaring site to donate now through our secure paypal account or send a check to UCM, 18 N. College Street, Athens OH 45701.
Join us in honoring the following community and student activists and organizations:
Recently at Ohio University, a graffiti wall that had been painted by our Black Student Union with the message “Black Lives Matter” was painted over with a different kind of message, which you can see here. The result has been a resurgence of racial tension, an intensification of discourse around race, and renewed demands that university administrators take action to promote an inclusive community on the campus and in the town.
Predictably, there have been backlash-y reactions to it that highlight the continuing problem of racism in this country (as for example here–although if the “f” word bothers you, this will be a risky click). Much of the backlash revolves around the question, “but don’t ALL lives matter?” To help unpack this conundrum, our campus minister, Rev. Evan Young, offered this explication:
I’m a Unitarian Universalist. And the first principle of Unitarian Universalism is that we “affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” So yes, all lives matter. And Unitarian Universalism as a faith community has embraced the#BlackLivesMatter movement, encouraging individuals and congregations to stand with people of color against the systemic and systematic oppression visited on black people in our society. Our actions speak most clearly about what we as a people believe–and our actions as a nation and a society have been saying, for centuries, that black lives matter less. Because I believe that all lives matter, and because I have seen and recognized that our society treats black lives as somehow less valuable, less worthy of respect and equal protection, I must as a person of faith stand with the oppressed, and I must proclaim with them that black lives matter. That’s what justice looks like; that’s what a just community would do in the face of such injustice. So when people say “black lives matter,” the only response I believe can be made with honesty and integrity is “Yes, they do. Let’s start acting that way.”
At UCM, we stand with those who continue to proclaim that Black Lives Matter. And we commit ourselves to building a community, a culture, and a world in which we all act that way.