True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice. — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This session begins the program's exploration of the Blake covenant phrase "to dwell together in peace". The story spotlights Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., two prophetic leaders who worked tirelessly for justice and change through nonviolence, and traces their inspiration back to Henry David Thoreau, a prophetic voice from our own Unitarian Universalist heritage. A Unitarian and a Transcendentalist, Thoreau demonstrated and wrote about the power of civil disobedience. His example has led generations to seek change through peaceful means. Participants will explore ways they might act on the examples of Thoreau, Gandhi, and King.

Henry David Thoreau belonged to the Transcendentalist movement, a generation of people struggling to define spirituality and religion in the decades prior to the Civil War. Affirming each individual's ability and right to commune directly with God or the Divine, they favored intuitive and experiential expressions of the spiritual. Transcendentalism also affirmed our responsibility for social reform, embodied by Thoreau's concept of civil disobedience.

Goals

This session will:

  • Examine the phrase "dwell together in peace" as one expression of how Unitarian Universalists can be tied together in beloved community
  • Demonstrate how the concept of civil disobedience links Henry David Thoreau, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Demonstrate how prophetic love can span generations, geographies, and social justice issues
  • Teach that promoting nonviolent communication and seeking social justice and political change through use of peaceful means are part of our Unitarian Universalist heritage.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Enact "dwell together in peace" in a community-building game, Tug of Friendship, which inverts the competitiveness of Tug of War
  • Understand the connection between the Unitarian Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau and two, great, nonviolent activists of modern history, Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Practice nonviolent communication
  • Explore how nonviolence and civil disobedience exemplify Unitarian Universalist values.

For more information contact religiouseducation@uua.org.