The following is excerpted from Richard McLeod’s sermon on January 6, 2019

Richard McLeodHere’s a broader and relevant question about your role as a member of this congregation: Who do you want to be as a Unitarian Universalist? Do you internalize AND operationalize UU covenants and philosophies? Do you recognize the value of The Seven Principles and adhere to them? Think about this new year, about where you are, about where we are, and relate that to where we are now and where we resolve to be in the coming year. I’m going to comment on our principles as found on the back page of your Order of Service, on our website, even in the front of our hymnals.
Principle One: The inherent worth and dignity of every person. Each person is entitled to his own opinion. Respect that; challenge only politely and through channels. Make your conversations about the other person, not about you. Compliment people; send thank-you notes. When you’re really sorry for things like being late, or hurting someone’s feelings, mean it, and don’t do it again. Recognize gossip, and avoid it. When disagreements boil over, take a breath, consider your reactions. Give people room. Remember that you may never know what burdens people bear.

            Principle Two: Justice, equity, and compassion in human relationships. Avoid racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and other phobias that choke us. Today’s social/political climate often pushes people over the edge. Be aware of the disparity between those who live in affluence and those who live in poverty. Nelson Mandela reminded us that relieving poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice.

            Principle Three: Acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth in our congregations. Appreciate and listen carefully to the variety of Sunday morning sermons and lectures that instruct and inspire. Learn about other faiths, and take value from their precepts. This may be, for example, your year to discover the value of meditation. 

            Principle Four: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Engage in and promote discussions on other viewpoints, even a polite debate. The Internet and Wikipedia are valuable libraries, but still own your own opinions, your own philosophies.

Principle Five: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and society at large. Become involved in, and contribute to any of our social action programs like immigrants, Black Lives Matter, Food Not Bombs, Transitions, Harvest Hope, Share the Plate. Get involved with Laura and our Social Action Committee to learn about efforts in our own community. Go to rallies and town meetings; be exposed to local, state, and national politics. Know your government officials and don’t hesitate to contact them. Stay registered and vote at every opportunity, knowing that your vote does count. You are fortunate to live in the United States, a country that has been the gold standard of Planet Earth. Evaluate what our leaders say; do not accept them or their version of the truth blindly. Be careful of fake or misleading news. Know the difference between FOX and CNN.

Principle Six: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. Educate yourself to understand global politics and cultures. The guarantee of human rights belongs not only to Americans. Be aware of the issues on immigration, the Mexico wall, and health care. Remember that what affects this planet also affects you.

Principle Seven: Respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part. I have a t-shirt I wear frequently that says “There is no planet B.” Linda and I were in Greenland last summer and witnessed how the melting ice floes increasingly limit the sustenance of the polar bears. Express your own opinion on global warming, foreign wars, the nuclear threat, and biological warfare. Do your part to keep our planet green. Join Kevin and the Green Team. In the social hall be careful about which can to place your garbage in. Remember that the fossil fuels we use to power our lives are in limited supply.

If you proclaim yourself a Unitarian Universalist, you need to pay REAL attention to these principles. Not only should you be able to quote them, but to integrate them into your life. Further, remember that you are not only a Unitarian Universalist, but a citizen of Columbia, of America, and of this planet. The real essence of the Seven Principles is Community—world community, national community, church community. We are interconnected AND interdependent. WE ARE the UUCC.

            Live long and prosper, go in love, go in peace. Amen.