The View From Here – October 2017

It occurs to me that the paradigm of either/or is quite useless. It sets up a false sense of only two choices in this world: You are either right or wrong. You are either a winner or a loser, liberal or conservative, a city slicker or a country bumpkin. You are either my friend or you are a stranger and perhaps even an enemy.

Either/or works fine when we are choosing between pumpkin or pecan pie. But wouldn’t you rather have a sliver of both?

Reality is far more complex and mysterious than either/or suggests. The challenges facing us as a society and as global citizens require us to sit with conflicting opinions and feelings, trusting that more than one solution may work, and that most situations cannot be processed or addressed with an either/or paradigm. For example, there are people who believe that health care is a right, and therefore should be free, and not be influenced by income or prior conditions or geographical location. Others see it as a privilege, and a service for which individuals should pay something, much like the social security program.

I see the merits of both arguments and wonder why we, as a society, cannot solve this seemingly intractable political stalemate. There are many very experienced and smart people in this field; I have to believe that we have the capacity to figure it out. Can’t we believe that basic health care is a right of our country, much like free public school education? Can’t we also believe that paying for some part of what we receive is fair and right, much like the fact that our taxes help pay for firemen, firewomen and the police?

One of the things that blocks us is this idea of either/or. So many of our representatives will only engage with people in their own party. So many of our friends will only engage with people in their own very small sphere. Can’t we disagree on some issues and find agreement on others?

My closest friends and I don’t agree on everything; this is not necessary to maintain a friendship.  Likewise, it is not necessary in the Senate.

Unitarian Universalists may know the limits of either/or better than most, as so many of us hold hybrid theologies. In our congregation alone, we have theists and atheists and agnostics. We have secular Jews and practicing Buddhists, and former Catholics and current Christians. But we come together in a covenant of mutual respect and shared values.  It seems to me that there are hundreds if not thousands of people who would be thrilled to learn about such a creedless and inclusive religious institution. Spread the good word of our faith! Help us do the same at the institutional level by giving generously to our Canvass this year, so that what you have found behind the green doors of 4 Cleaves Street will be available 100 years from now, and another 100 after that.

With all good wishes for our journey together!
Rev Susan