Jul. 30, 2018.
By Senior Minister Rev. David A. Miller.
Here we are mid-summer and there are so many things going on in the world. In the past and coming week, I have counted at least five requests to participate in vigils, protests, witness events or conferences based on the challenges and issues of the day. There will be more about some of these coming out in the announcements and look for something from me about the counterprotest against white supremacy on Aug. 12 in Washington, DC.
With all that and more, I have been thinking about one of the aspects of covenant, one of the dynamics of congregational life and one of the most important characteristics of a functioning democracy: Trust.
Trust issues are as old as relationships and have accompanied issues of power and privilege for millennia. And yet, it feels as if there is another assault on trust right now in the world. In a #MeToo/Trump administration/systems of white supremacy world, I can’t help but think there are ways we can support trust building to help address the many challenges we now face.
Based on these thoughts, here are some questions to ponder:
- Do we care about our collective best interest and the interest of others rather than just ourselves or our tribe? How do we move past rhetoric to actions and agreements of mutual accountability?
- How do we build bonds of trust with one another with such anxiety, animosity and acrimony present in the world? It’s hard not to let all of what is happening sink in and breed distrust. Can we learn ways of direct and respectful communication that help us break through projections and assumptions? Which leads to …
- What are we experiencing that actually speaks to valid feelings of distrust and what are we projecting onto others, perhaps rightfully so, that raises our guard? Just because we are assuming that someone isn’t trustworthy doesn’t mean they aren’t. It is important to set clear and appropriate boundaries, and also to understand that not everyone is motivated by what we think they are motivated by.
- In a world where truth is painted so often as a relative interpretation, how can we find common understandings of truth? Such a hard question to answer. I believe evidence supports climate change being a factual truth. However, it is clear that my truths are not everyone’s. Though we may often claim our truths as truth, can we look for the nuance that calls for engagement, discussion and openness to growth?
- What challenges to our comfort might we experience to build trust where trust has been a struggle? Being comfortable feels good. We actually strive to be as comfortable as possible in our daily lives. However, in a world with so little compromise and so much division, I also wonder who is willing to blink first in order for real transformation to occur?
These questions challenge me, and I hope they open up some dialogue in and between you all as well. Seeing this UUCF community as an experimental modeling space in trust building may not solve all the problems in the world, but it may help them move a little further along a healthier path.
May it be so.