#216 | Janet Leavens | Improve on the Proposed "Justice" Value and Covenant

Submission 216
Janet Leavens
University UU Fellowship, Inc. (Orlando, FL) 2920

What is your suggestion or idea?

Text to be deleted is struck through. Text to be added is in bold.

Justice: We work to be diverse multicultural Beloved Communities where all have the chance to thrive.

We covenant to dismantle racism and all forms of systemic oppression. We support the use of inclusive democratic processes to make decisions work towards ending racism, poverty, and other forms of hardship and injustice both in our communities and in the world at large. In this work, we courageously commit ourselves to nonviolence in actions and language, ever mindful to honor the humanity in those we see as our opponents.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

This amendment improves on the proposed ““Justice”” value and covenant by:

  1. Adding the words ““have the chance to”” in the first sentence, underscoring the real limits of our power. We can help create the conditions in which others may thrive, but ultimately each individual must take responsibility for their own flourishing.

  2. Eliminating the phrase ““dismantle racism and all forms of systemic oppression”” and substituting jargon-free, simpler, more positive and less ideologically-laden language. The term ““systems of oppression”” in particular is problematic because it is implicitly binary and oppositional (you need an oppressor system – or simply an oppressor, since ultimately we are dealing with people – for oppression to happen. Life is more complex.) Insisting we all work together to create Beloved Community is healthier and more productive.

  3. Explicitly including ““poverty”” as a social ill along with ““racism.”” The relationship between racism and poverty is complex and not fully understood. It would be best to mention them both, instead of merely focusing on one variable.

  4. Expanding our commitment. We want to build Beloved Communities not only in UU institutions, but in the world beyond as well.

  5. Explicitly exhorting us to eschew violence in our words and deeds. As violence mounts in the Alt-Right, it is important for us to resist the temptation to respond in kind or applaud those who do. It is also important for us to resist the temptation to ideologically justify violence (e.g. property damage during protests condoned as ““free speech.””)

  6. Removing the language about democracy. Democracy is important enough to be affirmed in its own Value & Covenant.

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

The proposed revisions to Article II were discussed during three congregational meetings which over a third of our members attended (35+ attendees). At least three people objected to the singling out of ““racism”” in this value. Instead of erasing ““racism.”” I decided to add ““poverty”” into the convenant.