When a member of the UU Fellowship of Plattsburgh, NY came to the board of trustees and asked that they make a public statement regarding Syrian refugees, they decided to write a letter to the editor to their local newspaper. They were all greatly dismayed by the things presidential candidates and governors were saying about banning Muslims from our country and from being settled in certain states. Nancy Lewin and Kathy Sajor began the draft statement for the 12/10 Board meeting. It was circulated among Board members and others so that the final statement reflected the input of many concerned members. They hoped that it would be run in the “In My Opinion” column but were initially told that only “experts” were printed there which they were not, and that the paper might print it on the Religion page, but even that presented them with some conflict. In the end, the board was greatly pleased that it was printed on the editorial page and on New Years Day.
The Press Republican has the article on their website and we've included it below:
In My Opinion: Taking the Side of Love
Friday, January 1, 2016
By the UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST TRUSTEES OF PLATTSBURGH
We're living in what feels to be the most dangerous of times.
Images and words swirling through the media overwhelm our senses with ideological and bloody conflict — images of horrific carnage at home and abroad.
Our very foundations feel shaky, unpredictable and unreliable.
Millions of people have been set adrift, their homelands unlivable because of war, natural disasters, poverty and persecution.
Civil society seems on the verge of breaking down, with violence erupting instead of dialogue about differences.
We may feel totally disoriented with the upheaval of what we have come to know as our world. We can be confused or feel like we are losing our compass of order or control.
There are forces at work that intentionally fan the flames to ignite fear and unleash passions. These are the weapons of terrorism.
We are meant to react by forgetting our moral codes and following “leaders” who impose their personal versions of order.
Terrorism takes many forms: It might come from people with weapons in hand or strapped to their bodies, but it can also arise from a well-groomed person armed with words that ignite fear and hatred.
In the end, it has similar effects — directing us away from our humanity.
These are clearly dangerous times. However, crises are also magnificently rich opportunities for change — doors open for transformation.
What if we do not allow ourselves to be cowed into submitting to fear and hate?
What if we filter out the angry talk that fills our media and listen, instead, to our higher selves?
What if, when confronted with challenge, we choose to act with bravery, honor, inspiration, compassion and love?
We are not powerless. We can choose to embrace change as an opportunity to exercise our best selves and aspire to the greatness of those who came before us.
Living in a land of immigrants, how contradictory is it for us to deride or demonize the “homeless tempest-tossed” that liberty invites to its golden door?
How can we, whose origins arose from those seeking religious freedom, now invoke a religious litmus test?
And how do we respond to images of boatloads of people adrift in the seas, children washing up on shore, families turned away at borders and train stations?
If we are truly alive as human beings, not numbed by language that stokes our fear, we respond with open hearts, open minds and helping hands. We lift our lamp beside the golden door. We do not judge people by class or religious affiliation.
We can see ourselves in the stories of each of these families searching for safety from a war-torn home.
This is the moment we can act as one people sharing this one planet. Our fate is interconnected, our future is together.
Muslims, Catholics, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, humanists, atheists — we are all in this together.
As Unitarian Universalists, we believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
We believe in justice, equality and compassion in human relations.
We believe in the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process.
We believe in the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.
We respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
We invite others to join us in action.
Let’s stop tuning in to the constant drumbeat of fear-inducing and hate-inspiring words and images and listen instead to those truths that reside deep within, where we have unity of mind, heart, spirit and the will to act.
Let’s stand up to fear and support the processing and resettling of refugees desperate to save their families from chaos and destruction.
Let’s construct a better course for this world with an ethically healthy foundation based on respect for each other and the principle of freedom.
And let’s unify our efforts and build a global community with peace, liberty and justice for all.
The trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Plattsburgh are Ursula Jones, Jerry Bates, Henry Morlock, Julia Giltz, Kathy Sajor, Jeff Hornibrook, Nancy Lewin and John Neuhaus.