The power to question is the basis of all human progress.

— Indira Gandhi

I became convinced that non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest.

— Martin Luther King, Jr., Autobiography

The hammer symbolizes power. In this session, there are opportunities to reflect on the power each of us has to work for good. Sometimes, when we see injustice, we can feel powerless to change it. We sometimes feel that the real power resides with an authority outside ourselves, such as the government. Yet, in fact we can find our own power and use it for good. This session explores the power to seek truth, the power to question authority or the status quo, the power to speak out against injustice, and the power to band together with others who share our values and goals to make a difference for what is good and just.

In leading this session, emphasize that power can be used for good or for evil. In addition, emphasize the distinction between strength and power.

Allow time for participants to engage with the idea of civil disobedience as a strategy to protest a law that is unjust.

Goals

This session will:

  • Help deepen Unitarian Universalist identity, ethical discernment, and understanding of Unitarian Universalist faith through reflection and discussion
  • Teach participants that Unitarian Universalism is a faith that will help you learn about the power you have and help you decide how to use your power for good
  • Demonstrate that Unitarian Universalism values the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large (fifth Principle)
  • Teach that Unitarian Universalism affirms that we are part of an interdependent web of all life (seventh Principle), and that when one part of the web suffers injustice, the entire web suffers injustice
  • Engage participants in the spiritual practices of chalice lighting, voicing of joys and concerns, and intentional discussion

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Connect the symbol of a hammer with the power for good
  • Hear a story about a Unitarian minister and a community of abolitionists who used their power to question government authority and defy the Fugitive Slave Law, contributing to the anti-slavery cause
  • Experience power and strength in a variety of games
  • Learn a song that uses the hammer as a metaphor for an individual's power to fight injustice
  • Reflect on the implications of using power, and how it can be used for good or for bad

For more information contact religiouseducation@uua.org.