Readings on Love & Justice

“Without justice and love, peace will always be the great illusion.” Archbishop Hélder Pessoa Câmara

“By acting compassionately, by helping torestore justice and to encourage peace, we
are acknowledging that we are all part of one another.” Ram Dass

“We are called to embody interdependence, to give our principles substance through our actions and the physical world in which we act.” Keith Wilkinson, CUC Board of Trustees

As Canadian Unitarian Universalists, we envision a world in which our interdependence calls us to love and justice.
The crux of this new vision is the recognition that our lives are bound up with all other life on this good green earth.
This is a bold theological statement of utmost importance. And frankly, it’s a turn away from the fierce individualism that has at times dominated Unitarian discourse over the past two centuries.
It is an affirmation, in the deepest possible sense, that what touches the life of one of us, affects us all.
When we take that to be true, when we accept that as the central reality of our being,when we truly know this in our bones,we are called to a way of life that demands a great deal of us.
We are called to increase the sum total of love and justice on this earth—
not simply in some lofty, theoretical sense for people half a world away,
but in the very day-to-day moments of our lives: in our city, at our work, on our block, in our homes, and within our hearts.
As Canadian Unitarian Universalists, we envision a world in which our interdependence calls us to love and justice.
It sounds so simple. It’s just one sentence.
But it’s what our religion is for.
Trying to live into it—faithfully—will keep us busy for a long time to come.
In truth, it is the work of generations,each building upon the commitments of those who have gone before in the sacred hope that we might bend the long moral arc of the universe ever onward to justice.
Rev. Shawn Newton

We can either emphasize those aspects of our traditions, religious or secular, that speak of hatred, exclusion, and suspicion or work with those that stress the interdependence and
equality of all human beings. The choice is yours.
Karen Armstrong, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

Amory Lovins says the primary design criteria he uses is the question “How do we love all the children?” Not just our children, not just the ones who look like us or who have resources, not just the human children but the young of birds and salmon and redwood trees. When we love all the children, when that love is truly sacred to us in the sense of being most important, then we have to take action in the world to enact that love. We are called to make the earth a place where all the children can thrive.
Starhawk, The Spiral Dance

This is a time of trial.
But if we are among the love people, the folk called to be part of changing the world without hate, we have much work, much spiritual, legal, practical, and relational work to do.
Love is not about drawing in and drawing smaller circles. That does not keep hate out or turn hate away. Love asks us to be bold and risky and vulnerable and faithful to these amazing promises we have made.
We’re still in this together. Our neighbors are still everyone in the whole world, those neighbors we are called to love, including the ones that are angry and afraid or that we who have suffered violence from hatred have learned to fear.
How do we go forward? Same as before and also more: more organization, more effort, more faithful risk especially to create sanctuary and protect those most in danger. Love and Justice have been our calling in other times of hatred in the past, one that we often struggled to embrace because this is difficult and painful as well as astounding and beautiful work. Love and Justice were our calling in the middle of hate made manifest before this election. Love and Justice are our calling now.
Love unite us, guide us, strengthen us, encourage us for the way ahead.
Love hold us, comfort us, & help us risk making way & welcome for all in need.
Love challenge us each & every day to meet hate & challenge & change it.
Love carry us on & let us be your voice singing as we work for change.
Love carry us on & let us be your hands making a more generous world.
Love carry us on & let us be part of the way of healing & hope now & forward.
Rev. Naomi King, (adapted)

It is a trying time for those who follow a liberal Unitarian faith.  We who prefer the open hand of welcome to the closed fist of alienation are being challenged like never before.
There is so much violence in so many places around the world – Dallas, New Orleans, Baghdad, Nice, and countless other tear-stained places where the forces of hate and hurt are lashing out.  It is such a test to keep our arms open when it might feel so much easier to bar the door and hide safely behind the walls.
But we must keep as open as we possibly can.  Our first Principle reminds us that we affirm all people.  Our Seventh Principle reminds us that we are part of an interdependent web, even when we hide behind walls. And those Principles remind us about justice and fairness and all those other compassionate practices that make liberal religion a force for positive change in the world.
Let us remind ourselves that the world is progressing in our direction despite these terrible setbacks.  By every measurable standard, the world is a safer place in the 21st century than it was in the 20th.  Let us hold true to our Principles and stay strong in our faith. Our deep understanding of our interdependence calls us to love and justice, to keep our arms wide open and hug the hurting world.
Rev. Brian Keily, Unitarian Church of Edmonton

“A commitment to love and justice demands the transformation of social structures as well as of hearts.” Mary E. Hunt

Sometimes, it is tempting to think about justice only as something “out there,” something that is about causes and actions and social change. But justice is also about how we treat ourselves and the people around us and in our families. The way we treat people individually has a big impact on those larger issues, even if it’s hard to tell right away.
Dr. Cornel West tells us, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” You can tell yourself this quote too, to remind you of why justice is so important. When we work for justice, we are embodying love in our communities; this is how we change the world!
from Quest for Meaning

Like every human being who hungers and thirsts for justice and peace, Dorothy Day had periods of complete exhaustion, sorrow, and pain. I was told that she would then withdraw and cry — for hours and days. She would sit there, talk to no one, eat nothing, and just cry. She did not withdraw from her struggle-filled, active life for the poorest of the poor. She never ceased to look upon war, and preparation for war, as a crime against the poor. But at certain times she wept, long and bitterly.
When I discovered this, I understood better what pacifism is, what God means in the midst of defeat, how the spirit comforts us and leads us into truth. I understood that comfort is not had by giving up truth, that one does not happen at the expense of the other. That Dorothy Day cried for days on end means for me that the Spirit’s consolation bears, at the same time, its own inconsolability. With Dorothy Day, we can learn to pray for the gift of tears.
Dorothee Soelle

This spiritual journey is often characterized by an intense passion for justice and liberation, especially in the face of exploitation and deprivation. The desire for justice is motivated not merely by the plight of appalling suffering, but by a deeper sense that love and well-being must prevail in the end.
Diarmuid O’Murchu

Let the good in me
connect with the good
in others,
until all the world
is transformed through
the compelling power
of love.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

“Look more deeply, and you will see yourself as multitudes, penetrating everywhere,
interbeing with everyone and everything.” Thich Nhat Hanh

“Justice that love gives is a surrender; justice that law gives is a punishment.” Mahatma Ghandi 

Longer Reads

From UU World magazine, an essay by the Rev. Kimberley Debus on the importance of love in Unitarian Universalism

Tim deChristopher is a Unitarian Universalist who lived out his sense of love and justice. He shared his story with Terry Tempest Williams in Orion magazine.

In an On Being column Omid Sadi writes of the necessary connection between love and justice.

Political activist Van Jones on responding to the Trump presidency with his Love Army in an interview in Yes Magazine.


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