Over the past several weeks, I have been listening to and reading the many #MeToo stories unfolding in the news, in social media, in private conversations and in public ones. The conversations have been happening nationally, but also within Unitarian Universalism. I have been witnessing privately the anger, the pain, and the truth-telling, and through it have been reminded of my own “me too” stories. The courage of the conversations is an inspiration and challenge about how we are called to do better within Unitarian Universalism to build a culture based on models of power that are liberating, life-giving and that honor a multiplicity of voices and experience.
It is tempting to want to believe that sexual harassment and assault do not happen within our own faith tradition, among our leaders, or within congregations. But this is naïve and false. Just as we are being asked to confront the culture of white supremacy within and beyond Unitarian Universalism, we have much work to do to understand the way that patriarchy and sexism operate in society and in ourselves. In all of these forms of oppression, we see the ways that dominant forms of power – consciously and unconsciously – can discount, distort, and even seek to destroy those who speak truth in the face of abusive power.
As President, and as the first woman elected to the role, I am deeply aware of the spiritual and theological challenge before us in confronting patriarchy inside and outside our faith communities. I take the commitment to examine and improve our processes around sexual harassment and assault seriously. We also must not isolate gender, but take up this issue intersectionally, understanding the multiple layers of race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, and role, and how they serve to make it even more difficult for people to name their truth and be believed.
As a people of a living faith who value the search for truth and meaning, we can learn to listen with our full selves to the truth and the challenge that is being named and be willing to be changed by what we learn. May we also be bolstered by the resiliency and power of the human spirit, so profoundly on display in so many places across our faith and the world.
We have good work before us, and hard work too, within ourselves and beyond – to affirm and live and actively struggle for equity and dignity and honor for everyone. And we have a faith that is strong enough to hold us and keep calling us forward as we journey to create individual and collective wholeness, justice, and accountability.