Equity Calls Us to Listen, Understand, Respect, Respond – Stebbins (amendment to Article II, which will be placed on the final agenda)

Amendment:
41 Equity. We declare that every person has the right to flourish with inherent dignity and
42 worthiness.
43 We covenant to use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain fully
44 accessible and inclusive communities. [INSERT: Equity calls us to listen, understand, respect, and respond to one another.]

Clean version:
41 Equity. We declare that every person has the right to flourish with inherent dignity and
42 worthiness.
43 We covenant to use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain fully
44 accessible and inclusive communities. Equity calls us to listen, understand, respect, and respond to one another.

Rationale:
This Amendment brings Equity - an important Value containing language from the 1st Principle - into line with the structure of other Values which have three sentences; Equity currently contains only two.

A 3rd sentence parallel to other Values can give a fuller description of how “every person” can be supported to “flourish” (1st sentence) within “communities” (2nd sentence): “Equity calls us to listen, understand, respect, and respond to one another.”

Equity calls us to listen and understand – because how can we hope to treat every person equitably if we don’t know “what size ladder they need in order to see over the wall”?

Equity calls us to respect – because how can every person have the “right to flourish” if their dignity is not respected?

Equity calls us not to ignore the fact that a person “can’t see over the wall,” but rather to respond to them - we may or may not actually be able to respond in a way that meets their need, but we can try to respond compassionately.

Equity calls us to do all of these things within community. So there still may be instances in which we have to ask someone to leave. We are “called,” not “forced” to listen, understand, respect and respond.

I personally believe that the more people are listened to, understood, respected, and responded to, the less divisive the world will become.

“Equity calls us” to do what we can.

This Amendment meets the Commission’s Charge to honor “the historic roots of our liberal, progressive faith” and be “powerful and relevant” moving forward, by ensuring the Equity Value befits the importance of the 1st Principle. It also follows the Commission’s Charge to be “brief” and “inspirational, memorable, and poetic.”

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After listening and trying to understand feedback from various Facebook groups, several UU ministers, a consultant for DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion), and voices from within my own Fellowship, I want to express my gratitude - and share additional reflections on the Stebbins Equity Amendment within the larger context of the Proposed Revision.

Oppression is a harmful way of treating both individual people and groups of people – a way of treating people that is sometimes so systemic that it can seem impossible to escape from – and sometimes even difficult for everyone involved to see. So how do we dismantle it, how do we build and sustain something different – and what does that “something different” look like? I don’t have the answers, but I am in a learning process.

Here’s my current perspective, using the language of our Principles, our Values, and the Equity Amendments under discussion:

I believe I am inherently worthy, AND that I have a right to flourish with dignity, love, and compassion. I believe you are too, and you do too. That’s why we are called to learn about our complex, interdependent, plural and transforming world – and to generouslylisten, understand, respect and respond.” Through this way of relating to one another, this compassion in human relations, we can work to dismantle racism and other systemic oppressions – and we can build and sustain equitable, accessible, inclusive, just, multicultural, and interdependent Beloved communities that may allow us all – every person – to flourish.

We are called to “listen, understand, respect and respond” at all levels - at the individual level, the community level, the congregational level, between congregations, and in association thru the UUA and our leadership – so this should be specified in Article II of our Bylaws!

These are the specific words that my Fellowship and I – and more than 15 other Congregations - believe should be considered, and that I strongly believe will support us in realizing the vision of the Proposed Revision: “Equity calls us to listen, understand, respect, and respond to one another.”

Please vote YES on the Stebbins Amendment if you agree.

If you have questions or concerns about the Amendment, please let me know! Let’s continue the conversation - so that Love can support the growth of our Living Tradition.

Thank you for listening.

I look forward to your replies.

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The Study Team’s response to why the word “worth” was replaced with "worthiness was that in the past monetary value was assigned to human beings.

I find this reason completely inconsistent with the word “equity” which was chosen as the value. Equity has all sorts of monetary implications. I have equity in my house. I have equity in my IRA.

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SMyles,

First, just to clarify, the Stebbins Amendment only addresses adding a 3rd sentence to the Equity Value: “Equity calls us to listen, understand, respect, and respond to one another.”

In contrast, the Wheeler Amendment only addresses changing the wording in the 1st sentence of the Equity Value - including changing the word “worthiness” to “worthy”. For more details, see the Wheeler Amendment.

Then I have a question for you, Steve. I think I understand the basis for the point you make - that if someone argues that “worth” isn’t an appropriate word, it might suggest that “equity” is also not an appropriate word. But I’m not sure I understand what you think would address your concern. Do you want to help me understand that?

This touches on something that I think is missing from the proposed Article 2. I would like “Accountability” to be added as a separate central value, because without accountability you can’t have real love or anti-oppressive momentum. Adding “Equity calls us to listen, understand, respect and respond to one another” is really getting more into the domains of accountability and respect.

Frances, I think I understand how “responding” would be part of an Accountability Value, and how it addresses something “missing” from the Proposed Revision.

I’ve also been wishing I had used more words to explain in more detail what I feel is “missing” from the Equity Value. If I had used more words, I might have come up with something like: “Every person is inherently worthy and has a right to flourish with dignity, love, and compassion. We covenant to listen, understand, respect and respond to one another in order to prevent and address inequities. We use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain fully accessible and inclusive communities, - to provide equity for all.”

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Based on a post on the WHEELER Amendment page, I want to clarify that the WHEELER and STEBBINS Amendments can stand alone or together. (And I personally am on record as believing that they work better together.) The WHEELER Amendment changes the 1st sentence, while the STEBBINS Amendment adds a 3rd sentence. Depending on how the vote goes, here are the 4 possible outcomes:

WHEELER only: We declare that every person is inherently worthy and has the right to flourish with dignity, love, and compassion. We covenant to use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain fully accessible and inclusive communities.

STEBBINS only: We declare that every person has the right to flourish with inherent dignity and
worthiness. We covenant to use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain fully accessible and inclusive communities. Equity calls us to listen, understand, respect, and respond to one another.

BOTH STEBBINS AND WHEELER: We declare that every person is inherently worthy and has the right to flourish with dignity, love, and compassion. We covenant to use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain fully accessible and inclusive communities. Equity calls us to listen, understand, respect, and respond to one another.

NEITHER: We declare that every person has the right to flourish with inherent dignity and
worthiness. We covenant to use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain fully accessible and inclusive communities.

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