Happy Valentine's Day: A Love Letter to UUs Everywhere
Dear Unitarian Universalists,
I love you. I really do. We've been together now for 22 years, and we've had our ups and downs, but I know in my heart you're still the religious group for me.
Now there’s been a lot of buzz about the new logo, and a lot of it has been not-so-positive. There have been negative reactions to the logo and then negative reactions to the negative reactions…
Well here’s my take on it:
When I first saw the "branding" proposal at a UUA all-staff meeting in September, to be honest, it made me queasy. Brands? Those are for corporations! Corporations are evil! Yuck, why would we model ourselves after Apple?
(Yes, this from the young woman who owns an iPhone, a MacBook Pro, an iPod and uses her partner’s iPad from time to time….hmmmm...)
But then, I saw the visual materials with lively communication about who we are, with snazzy images that could catch people's eyes in our media saturated world and I thought, "ok, I can dig this!" I like the logo, I like the colors, I like the simplicity, I like the ways it can be used on T-shirts, in email signatures, on iPhone apps. I like the potential for more effective outreach.
Yesterday, as the new logo spread around social media, I saw a few folks in my Facebook news feed react with flippant dismissal or sarcasm and that made me feel disappointed and frustrated, both as a UU and a UUA staff person. I got pretty down about it. I got to thinking about how hard we’re always trying yet how we always seem to be upset with each other in this tiny religion of ours.
But you know what? It actually wasn’t all that bad, at least from where I stand in the social media world. Most of what I've seen in my news feed regarding the logo has ranged from playful "what do you see?" Rorschach tests to nuanced and thoughtful reactions to gratitude with a side of important questions. I even saw an eloquent and balanced facebook status from fellow young adult and dedicated UU Shane Montoya, who apologized for any hurt he had caused UUA staff members with his social media postings.
And I found that heartening. Because here's the thing. We are human, we Unitarian Universalists. We are passionate and we have strong reactions to images and strong reactions to comments and to anything that has to do with our beloved tradition. We are complicated and we screw up and we are not as good at communicating our mission and building beloved community and changing the world as we'd like to be.
But we are also really dedicated to our faith. Last week I saw UUs in their Standing on the Side of Love Gear in a Buzzfeed article about "the massive progressive protest you didn't hear about this weekend." I thought that was funny because it was practically all I heard about that weekend! It was all over my Facebook page, how we were marching alongside thousands of others from a wide variety of religious backgrounds to stand up for the rights of all people to vote, to marry, to have access to education and healthcare and financial resources.
And also in this last week, I've talked to several UUs who are trying new approaches with young adult and campus ministry and making fabulous things happen with very limited resources. That’s far and away the best part of my job as Young Adult and Campus Ministry Associate, getting to connect with so many committed and creative leaders from Tallahassee, Florida to Wooster, Ohio, from Birmingham, Alabama to Geneseo, New York.
And this week in my life as a regular ol’ church member, I've had the opportunity to collaborate on a weeknight vespers service led by young adults at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland. There were folks of all ages in attendance, from the child who wondered aloud “is it over?” after I gave the benediction, to one of the elders who told me she was skeptical after the first vespers service, but was willing to give it another try.
All of this makes me glad, all of this fills me with hope, all of this just makes me fall in love with you all over again.
So Happy Valentine's Day, fellow Unitarian Universalists. And here's to many more!Love, Annie Gonzalez