The principles: growing as we do

Like many Unitarian Universalists who grew up outside the tradition, I found our seven principles to be a powerful attractor. When I read them, I nodded along: here were the principles by which I actually tried to live, articulated by an actual religious community! I had never known such a close match between my own values and those of a religion. It was thrilling.

Like many white US Americans, I grew up with a fairly naive and simplistic understanding of race and racism, and have experienced significant shifts in this understanding over the past 10, 20 years. I had thought that racism was largely a phenomenon in the hearts of certain people; over time, I have realized that the far greater challenge is the ways racism is “baked in” to so many institutions, from car insurance to healthcare. I had thought of it as, if not gone, certainly mostly a remnant of a much worse past; now, I perceive how that past is still very much shaping our present, and I want us to move into a post-racist future once and for all.

Many of us white US Americans (and white UUs) have experienced similar shifts, as seen in the recent groundswell of anguish and action among us regarding police brutality, the racially skewed criminal justice system, race-based voter suppression, and the rise of white nationalism. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), too, has had an awakening, born of painful conflicts (such as the 2017 resignation of the UUA president after the inadequacy of the Association’s hiring practices was revealed), but giving rise to a hopeful renaissance of our commitment to dismantling white supremacy in all its forms, blatant or subtle.

In light of this greater understanding and commitment, the principles, while still beautiful and true, now seem to need something more. Like my childhood ideals, they speak of worthy things like equity and justice, but without a forthright naming of racism as the persistent enemy of these ideals, how well-equipped are they to defend them? So I am inspired by the proposal of an eighth principle, and excited that leaders of UUCPA have plans in place for us to explore it, consider it, and, when we are ready, vote on its adoption.

They and I have worked together to launch the project, as outlined in this new page on this website: The 8th Principle at UUCPA. I look forward to taking this journey with you.