Braver/Wiser : A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion
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Honk If You Love

By Lindasusan Ulrich

“The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.”
—Dr. Robert McNeish, “Lessons from the Geese”

Driving along a commercial corridor near my house, I noticed that one of the used car dealerships had changed the message on its sign. Instead of touting a holiday sale or good financing rates, the block letters read:

HONK
IF YOU
LOVE

I was thoroughly delighted! I remembered how encouraging it felt whenever drivers beeped their support as they passed a demonstration or protest march I was part of. It felt like this message addressed those actions’ deeper motivation: love for our fellow beings, which sits at the core of all social justice work. I imagined cars whizzing past this roadside pulpit of sorts, people smiling as they tooted their horn on behalf of humanity.

Cue the abrupt record scratch.

As I drew closer to the sign, I noticed that under the word LOVE was an American flag, previously indistinguishable. Apparently, boisterous love was reserved only for the United States. Suddenly, the acknowledgment of our wide and profound connectedness had been reduced to affection for one narrow sliver of the human population. I felt diminished.

I’m better off taking my cue from Canada geese than used car dealers. Geese fly much further as a group than they ever could alone. When a goose has been injured, two or three others stay with it on the ground until it recuperates. And as the skein migrates, they honk to remind their fellow birds that they’re nearby, ready to help, encouraging each other through the long hours of flight.

“If we have as much sense as geese,” as Dr. Robert McNeish wrote, then our hearts must be moved by more than parochial interests. If we hope to foster a more compassionate world, we must practice caring for one another with joy and over long distances. If justice is to be realized, then our voices must speak loudly—even boisterously—of love.

Prayer
That Which Causes Our Souls to Take Flight, encourage us in these difficult days. Remind us that those beyond our circles, our borders, our walls are embraced by the same immeasurable love by which we are held. Help us demonstrate kindness in all that we do. And grant that we may, indeed, have as much sense as geese.

About the Author

Lindasusan Ulrich

Rev. Lindasusan V. Ulrich is a minister, writer, musician, and activist dedicated to a vision of radical inclusion in both language and action. She currently serves as Assistant Minister at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor.

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A flock of gray geese, one of which is in mid-honk.

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