At the Edge

By Connie Goodbread

If we start fighting amongst ourselves, we are doomed.

- Remus Lupin (Order of the Phoenix, JK Rowling)

I will add that if we keep fighting amongst ourselves, we are doomed. If we cannot get clear on the big picture and stop fighting over the irrelevant and the petty, we are doomed. If we cannot understand that our work is to transform the world, we are doomed. If we cannot understand that we transform the world by being the people we say we are and by working for love and justice, we are doomed. The color we paint the vestibule is not the real work. Fighting over the color of the vestibule is merely work avoidance.

Here we are at the edge. Will we join together in all our differences? Will we put aside petty grievances and fight for loving justice? Will we stop blaming, making fun of and insulting others (including each other) so that we can come to empathy? Will we strive to understand first, before demanding that we are understood? Will we listen? Will we begin to behave as the covenantal people we say we are? Will we begin to claim our own reactivity and choose to not be offended? Will we?

Here we are at the edge. We can see the pit below and the sky above. Will we choose to fall or to soar?

Here we are at the edge. The path that we thought was the way is being dismantled. What on the path had real merit? What left others out? What is at the center of creation and must be saved - because it is worth living for?

Here we are at the edge. We can see that there is a lot of pain. Whose pain is the pain we take seriously? Whose pain will we choose to care for? Who will we heal and who will be made to endure even more pain?

Here we are at the edge. Who will we criticize and make fun of for trying something - anything - that might be helpful? How does that kind of ridicule discourage people trying to do something to make a difference?

This is a new year. Our ministry is clear. Yes, here we are at the edge. We no longer have the luxury of squabbling over the irrelevant. If, at this moment in time, we could be the people who, stand, roll, fight, live and breath on the side of love, we can have a great impact on what will happen next.

There will be many many people who, in these next couple of years, will come in search of all of the values that are at the heart of Unitarian Universalism, the values that are worth living for - hope, love, justice, courage and joy. They will be highly prequalified to be members of our congregations. We need to prepare the table now. We need to be who we say we are. We need to set boundaries around behaviors that are community breaking. We need to proclaim who we are, why we exist and what we are called to do. We need to look evil in the eye, emboldened and filled with courage. We need to stop the fake fights and face the real fights that are present here at the edge.

In this new year, make sure that your congregation gets all of the communications that will be coming both from our UUA and from the other congregations. Be sure that you have gone onto and updated your contact information. Be sure that you include email addresses for your leaders. This is the only way we have of connecting with you and your congregation.

We are so much stronger together and we need one another now more than ever. I have never been happier to have found this faith and each of you. The edge can be a pretty scary spot - glad I am not alone.

About the Author

Connie Goodbread

Connie Goodbread is serving Unitarian Universalism as HOPE for Us Conflict Engagement Team Director. Connie served as Co-Lead of UUA Southern Region for three years.

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