Big Faith of Beloved Community; No Borders to our Love
In our work, we frequently draw on Dr. King’s definition of justice as “love correcting everything that stands against love.” Love goes way beyond a feeling. Love is a practice. A practice of correcting whatever stands against love: structures that exclude; systems that punish or silence; preferential treatment; destruction of Mother Earth.
Love as a practice informs all hopes and strategies for building right-relationship at all levels: interpersonally, institutionally, culturally, environmentally.
Love's Purpose Is Not to Win but to Heal
It does not fight against those who oppress or oppose; it seeks connection. It does not seek to shame others into doing the right thing, but seeks to remind each of us that the wealth of community is in the gifts by which we serve each other. “Love is the willingness to go to any length to restore community.”
Love Compels Us to Do What It Takes to Unite Across Separation
With this announcement, we introduce the Pacific Western Region readership to a new website: BetheLove.net. As stated on its home page, “Be the Love is a place of inspiration for living and building Beloved Community.” The site is a project of staff in the Pacific Western and the New England Regions. It includes:
- an explanation of our intention
- our best attempts to describe Beloved Community
- some history of the concept
- who we are
- an emergent set of slideshares [re]framing some key concepts
- a blog (please subscribe) and Facebook page (please “like”) to inspire continued engagement with the practices and concepts.
We have been a little slow in rolling out this website, in part because responses so far have run a gamut. Some people “get it” immediately. In fact, one man confessed to being so spellbound as he worked his way from page to page that he spilled his breakfast into his lap.
At the same time, a friend of ours says that he does not hear Beloved Community talk taking into account the culture of oppression and control. He hears us as saying, “Just love each other and the problems will disappear.”
We’re not talking about love without power. In the same speech quoted above, Dr. King says:“…we’ve got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.”
Love is a practice that applies as much to how we behave interpersonally as to how we structure institutions, make decisions, allocate resources, navigate differences of culture and rank, address histories of conflict, and return to sustainable life ways.
It Is as Much About What We Are Creating as What We Are Trying to Dismantle
The “Standing on the Side of Love” campaign invites Unitarian Universalists to stand with marginalized communities. To do so is a practice of love. The campaign invites us show up, speak up, protest, march, bear witness, get arrested, humbly serve. It invites us to do what we can to change oppressive policies and practices that give some people access while leaving others in the cold.
But to stop there is to miss love’s greater, deeply radical call: healing the rifts that prevent us from seeing and experiencing the worth and dignity of people on any “side.” Love remembers that we all and already belong to one another. Only love is radical and powerful enough to unify us across any divide we experience or can imagine.
As we work “against” forces of oppression both within and beyond our congregations, we must also be working into a time “beyond” systematized oppression. We must practice in this mean time the ways of Beloved Community, to build the collective muscle for living and being Love. If we don’t, what will happen to us if we “win”?
It is our hope and prayer that BetheLove.net can be one contribution toward inspiring us to remember, believe and practice living into “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.”