As I write this the day before it is printed in our beloved Week on the Peak, it is Cinco de Mayo, the 26th anniversary of the founding of this congregation, and the 201st anniversary of the Baltimore Sermon. For those UU’s who aren’t familiar with the Baltimore Sermon, it is the defining moment where Rev. William Ellery Channing spoke for an hour and a half at an ordination about the meaning of Unitarianism and what it truly meant. It was groundbreaking at the time, challenging the more orthodox factions and declaring a more Unitarian liberal view of orthodoxy. It is the moment we truly declared that we believed in the doctrine of God’s Unity as Channing stated it and not in three separate divinities. It was groundbreaking and actually created factions then in separating Unitarians, Congregationalists and the Standing Order churches of the time. He became the defining leader of Unitarianism and is informally called the “Father of Unitarianism” and his sermon became known as the Baltimore Sermon.
This month our theme is Integrity and Channing represents integrity as far as Unitarianism considers it. In public debate, he withstood the highest criticisms from more conservative factions of Christianity and he not only weathered the tumult but thrived on it. Integrity is defined much by using the words, honesty, morality, ethical, principled, valued. When I think of integrity, it defines for me a way to live my life. A way to live honestly, ethically, in kindness and love, with regard to not only myself but to all others as well. During this tumultuous time, I am watching those without integrity create chaos in many cities across our nation. Where is the integrity to bring an automatic rifle to a rally to break the restrictions each state has set up? Where is the integrity to scream in the face of a police officer not wearing a mask in this day of the Covid-19 pandemic? Where is the integrity to blatantly ignore the regulations laid down by our Governors to ensure the safety of all? I am very bothered and angered by the behavior of some who for many reasons are frightened and angry and frustrated. That is not the reaction however that will ensure the safety of others. In fact, they are endangering others when they bring an automatic rifle to a gathering that is only meant to protest. And may I add that these are white privileged men getting away with this behavior. If they were people of color, they would be in jail. Can you picture an African American man screaming in the face of a police officer while holding a gun and not being taken down and arrested or possibly even shot? When I see these pictures and see what these white men are getting away with, it enrages me. Not only are they endangering the health of the police officers in front of them, their behaviors are flying in the face of our democracy and what this country stands for and possibly endangering the lives of others by spreading the virus.
As a people of integrity, what do we do when we see others acting without integrity? Is there anything we can do? I don’t have the answer to that right now. In the face of this pandemic, I am attending 3-5 Zoom meetings per day and must admit, I’m tired. I only seem to have the energy to get angry at them, but not create a solution. There may not be anything that I can do, especially now where I am intent on Sheltering in Place. So I lay these thoughts down for you today as food for thought, as a deliberation to consider and to reaffirm the integrity you all are keeping right now by Sheltering in Place. It is vital that we keep our integrity in the face of those who are not.
And congratulations Mission Peak UU for 26 years of being a united community! It feels like years ago that we celebrated the 25th, and yet one year ago we did. I know in my heart you will continue to grow, to learn, to love each other and to be the Unitarian Universalist congregation you are striving to be.
Oh, and I won’t even comment on Cinco de Mayo. That’s a whole other musing about appropriation I won’t even go into today.
Loving blessings to you all.