The Beloved Community is not built by one brick or simply in one day. It is built by showing up for our neighbors with a casserole, a ride to the doctor or polls, or listening to one another’s concerns. It is about relationships with one another and our planet home. Small acts like recycling, shopping locally, or composting add up in each household that participates. We may not “Save the Planet” by planting one tree, but our individual actions multiply. We can make a difference by living into our values each day, and we don’t have to do it alone. I watch the news and think, ‘There are so many problems, what can I possibly do that will make a difference?’ The wonderful thing about life is that it isn’t just about me.
If I’m distressed, I might talk to my neighbor or congregation member regarding my worries about landfills or the treatment of undocumented persons in our country. Maybe I’ll find out about a rally or local city ordinance we can support together. By listening to our neighbor’s concerns as well as sharing our own, we build relationships and allies in our efforts to make a difference in our community.
As a Unitarian Universalist minister, my faith draws from diverse traditions. In worship or my spiritual life, I draw upon the Jewish and Christian traditions, world religions and the powerful witness of poets, philosophers, and great thinkers. So often we focus on how we are different, rather than the beliefs or principles that we share in common. I deeply appreciate the interfaith community organizing efforts of JONAH (Joining Our Neighbors Advancing Hope) because it reminds me how much different faith communities hold in common. Since 2007, JONAH has worked with people, agencies and organizations to help make our communities healthier, safer and better places for everyone to live and work. It is about building community and building capacity to address root causes of poverty and injustice.
Through activism with JONAH, I have made lifelong friendships and grown in my own faith understanding by working with people from other traditions and from diverse backgrounds. Whether we are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, or Unitarian Universalist, we are moved by needs for housing, the undocumented, sustaining our beautiful earth and so many problems that affect those who are marginalized. Through the organizing efforts of JONAH we join our voices and hands together to make a change, and we do not have to do it alone.
The ancient Greek Archimedes once said, “Give me where to stand, and I will move the earth.” Each of us can be a lever to move things to a better place, but our joint energy and leverage has that much more power.
I think many of us are hungry for lives of meaning. Maybe we understand at a gut-level that our values and beliefs call us to do something about pain, suffering, inequity, and discrimination. I believe justice goes beyond check writing and sitting in comfortable pews. It begins with work on ourselves. Justice begins with compassion, recognizing all persons are inherently worthy and sacred.
To move through the status quo, we aim to see our own lives tied with others. This Sunday from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at The Oxford, come celebrate “Homegrown Justice,” 12 years of JONAH work in the community. More and more people want equity, discover that they have the power to participate in decisions that affect their community, and understand that together we are better!
Speakers are David Liners from WISDOM, Zach Pappas from Earthbound Environmental, Susan Wolfgram and Judi Moseley on Affordable Housing, and John Wagner on Child Poverty). Tickets available at the door. For more information go to jonahjustice.org.