#144 | Patricia Uribe-Lichty | "Love" is Over-Used

Submission 144
Patricia Uribe-Lichty
First Unitarian Universalist of Berks County

What is your suggestion or idea?

Love as the central value in the visual replaced with Justice.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

““Love”” is over-used in today’s world. It easily lends itself to a sentimental meaning.
It also is impossible to measure in anyway and, unlike the other values, nebulous and only existing in the individual mind. There is no way to be accountable for how one loves, or how a congregation manifests love.

Justice is ““Love in public””, and is something that everyone both within the denomination and outside it can recognize. It is possible to be accountable for justice work because it can be seen, and because there is some degree of agreement on what constitutes it.

Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?

Have discussed this with my minister and with the chair of the Social Justice Coordinating Committee. They agreed; one suggesting ““equity”” initially, but preferring Justice after I suggested it, the other suggesting ““compassion””.


Yes, “love” is over-used, and when it’s capitalized that seems too far

Love means different things to different people. The justification for putting “love” at the center seems shaky to me. If we did a study like the one cited in the report, we would find that UUs use reason more than other religious. Should be Reason at the center of what we do? This is just an example. We are a liberal religion, should we put “Freedom” at the center? We are more grassroots based, should we put Democratic Principles at the top?

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good questions; I think an effort to find one central value or word will be unsuccessful; we are too diverse

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I concur. ‘’Love’ is an overused word and is not measurable. Seeking a more justice world inspires action and can be measured in a variety of domains; e.g., racial, economic justice, etc.
The goal of Beloved Community rings my bell as an ongoing aspiration that beckons thoughtful, peaceful activists.

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I agree that love is over-used. I don’t know what everyone might agree to put at the center, but I don’t think a vague, undefined, and unmeasurable love is the correct thing.

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It seems just a tad presumptuous to claim Love as a distinctively Unitarian attribute. The same applies to candidate replacements (goodwill? compassion?..). Perhaps we have stronger claims to tolerance, liberalism, rationality…


I don’t think it’s possible for any single word to represent the core of all our values. I’m not entirely sure it’s possible for a single word to represent even just a single value. A words mean nothing but its definition – this is obvious but important: words emerge from their definition, not the other way around.

There are several kinds of Love which we might wish to specifically promote in our covenant

  • Compassion: the application of empathy in personal “one-on-one” interactions, meant to be applied in day to day interactions with other people

  • Altruistic empathy: care for groups of people, which one may or may not belong to, care for the “greater good”, and attention to social issues

  • Self Actualization: self-love; having the comfort and freedom to accept and become who we want to be

If our values are centered on individual words, then the unstable definition of those words will make unstable values, not flexible values. A sound foundation must be rooted in definitions which are both stable and flexible.

I fully agree that clear definitions are a must. Ambiguous words or words that have more than one meaning will lead to different interpretations of the stated value or principle.

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