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Readings: “What the Clamoring's For

In conversations about the initiative for greater diversity, our Unitarian Universalist Association-wide commitment to become more inclusive, one of the questions that inevitably arose was, ‘What do we want diversity for? What is our motivation?’...

Perhaps it is guilt. Guilt over the injustices of racism, heterosexism, classism. A commitment to diversity would ‘make me feel better,’ that is, less guilty. Perhaps it is a sense of responsibility. A sense of responsibility to deal with my prejudices and somehow participate in bringing greater justice. A commitment to diversity would hold us responsible, make us do the right thing. Perhaps it is that nagging call to seek wholeness. Given the partiality of all points of view; given the diversity of truth; given our calling to live our lives religiously...given these a commitment to diversity is nothing more or less than honoring the call to seek wholeness—in my life and in our collective life.

African-American feminist author/teacher bell hooks asks the question this way—what is all this clamoring after difference?

“...all the clamoring is about seeking wholeness. Guilt leads to angry denial and inaction. Responsibility leads to grudging good works. The call to seek wholeness has room for acknowledging feelings of guilt (and anger, frustration,) room for accepting appropriate responsibility and plenty of room for moving toward personal and communal transformation.

“...all the clamoring is for each person, each perspective, each truth to be granted sufficient respect so that we truly listen to those ideas and allow ourselves to be truly challenged by them.

“...all the clamoring is for us to recognize that our lives are intertwined, so intertwined, that each is accountable to the other. Each particular story/truth calls us to accountability, calls me to accountability for my life, my limits, my individual and our collective transformation...

“...all the clamoring is for truth—I need you—I need you, who you are, the experiences and perspective you bring, so that I may know truth beyond my partial truth.

“...all the clamoring is for justice—We need each other, and what we can all do together for justice.”


From a sermon by Tracey Robinson-Harris: “Truth, Wholeness and the Time to Seek Them” delivered at the Community Church of NYC on May 9, 1993.

Copyright: The author has given Unitarian Universalist Association member congregations permission to reprint this piece for use in public worship. Any reprints must acknowledge the name of the author.

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Last updated on Wednesday, February 27, 2013.

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