Beyond Red and Blue, Waves and Splashes

By Carlton Elliott Smith

This Sunday will be the first time many of us will gather together with our fellow Unitarian Universalists after the mid-term elections.

As your Southern Region team, we know of the diversity that exists in our congregations, across the South and across the continent. While collectively and individually we affirm our Unitarian Universalist principles and their ideals, we can have very different ways of interpreting them, from congregation to congregation, from family to family, from person to person.

In this month in which our hearts turn to what we are grateful for, here are some aspects of our shared life where we might share thankfulness, given our overarching commitment to those principles:

  • Over 100 women are going to serve in the next House of Representatives, moving the nation in the direction of more balanced gender representation at the highest levels of government;
  • Some of the qualified, popular candidates who reflect our faith’s values were successful in their election pursuits, while others came very close without succeeding, a few head into run-offs and still others are holding out to ensure all votes are counted;
  • Florida’s Amendment 4 passed, restoring voting rights to roughly 1.4 million people who were previously convicted of felonies;
    • Several historic ‘firsts’ were voted into office, including the first openly gay governor; the first Muslim women elected to Congress, and; the first indigenous women elected to Congress;
    • More people participated in this mid-term election than any other mid-term election since the 1960s, and;
    • A new group of candidates energized the electorate, and many constituents became very active participants in those campaigns, as well as campaigns of more seasoned candidates;

Thousands of people will talk during hundreds of coffee hours at our UU congregations about what happened November 6th —what worked and what didn’t, who won and who lost, whether there was a “wave” or a “slash”, which precincts, districts or states turned red, blue or purple. For those disappointed by the results, there will be fault-finding missions —This or that group failed us/is morally bankrupt/supports oppression.

In these anxious times, may we be those non-anxious presences in our congregations, our families, our communities and our places of work, building bridges of understanding that transforms hearts and minds.

In these polarizing times, may we be true to our deepest convictions while also affirming and promoting the humanity—the inherent worth and dignity—of every person we see.

In these dangerous times, may we yet be willing to step out of our comfort zones, our waves and splashes, our bubbles of red and blue to speak truth to power, as those who went before us have done so that we can be where we are now.

The night after the election, the nation suffered another terrible and terrifying mass shooting, this time at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California. The communities there are also in the grips of raging wildfires that are cutting a broad swath of destruction, compounding the grief and the loss.

This Sunday and every Sunday, let us remember to be kind and patient with one another, to practice our Unitarian Universalist values. Regardless of any election outcome, we are all still here together in our beautiful, blue boat home. Thoughtfully and prayerfully, our times together can be moments of refreshment, renewal and sustenance in the midst of life’s storms.

Your Southern Region Team

About the Author

Carlton Elliott Smith

Rev. Carlton E. Smith is the Regional Lead for the Pacific Western Region. From 2013 to 2020, he was a member of the UUA Congregational Life Staff Group serving in the Southern Region....

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