On September 21st the world observed the International Day of Peace, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981. On that day, people are requested to acknowledge the need for a world without war, and to study issues that are related to peace such as ending hunger, providing educational opportunities for children and empowering those who are powerless.
Peace is not just the absence of war, it requires hard work and constant attention. Peace builders have to work on creating jobs because young men without jobs and too much time on their hands are easily coaxed into fighting.
In Peace is the Way, Deepak Chopra informs that to end war, it’s not enough to think of ending one conflict or even thirty conflicts; what we have to end is the idea, and the habit of war, which has turned in to the constancy of war. Like any habit, war has worn a groove in our consciousness, so that when we become very afraid, or very angry, the response of war comes naturally.
No area of the world is exempt from the cycle of violence. The cycle appears to be most pronounced where populations have surged, resources are scarce, and bleak prospects are faced, such as African countries and in the Middle East today.
Realists believe the cycle of violence is just the way of the world. Idealists believe if we can just stop the fighting, a natural state of peace will return. After all, no one is against peace.
However, none of us are innocent bystanders, because we depend on it politically, socially and economically. Rather than wishing that others will stop killing, we must become a force for peace, and in doing so make the ultimate contribution.
The way of peace calls for abolishing the way of “us” versus “them.” To stop dehumanizing “the other” is the way to fulfill our sixth principle of building a fair and peaceful world.
To seriously work toward peace, we have to be peace, and begin our inner disarmament, of reducing personal emotions of suspicion, hatred hostility.
Heart to Heart
Rev. Addae Ama Kraba
This complete sermon was originally delivered on Sept. 22, 2013
With a congregation filled with members who had left various protestant, Catholic and Jewish faith communities, Norbert Capek was faced with the same challenges that Unitarian Universalist members face today. Similarly, people were not completely satisfied, because the element of spirituality was missing. Setting out intentionally to create a ritual that would unite the various backgrounds without alienating those who had left those traditions he turned to the native beauty of the countryside for elements of creating something that would be acceptable to all. Much like one of an earlier forefather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who tells us that the soul of the whole dwells within us, Capek believed in “the hidden cry for harmony with the Infinite” that is within every soul. He believed that all humans are an expression of god, and god struggles for higher expression in all of us.
The flower communion borrows from the universal beauty of nature, because it reflects the universal beauty of humans, various sizes, shapes and colors. No two are alike but each beautiful in its uniqueness. This service symbolizes our uniqueness, and our coming together. That we are celebrating the flower communion on the day that we celebrate new members is very fitting, because our community would not be the same without the uniqueness each member brings. The flower communion is a celebration of Hope, because no matter how challenging times have been over the past year, when we come together and exchange flowers, symbolizing a willingness to walk together in a search for truth and meaning despite the differences that could possibly divide. It matters very little whether we self identify as theist, atheist, humanist, naturalist, Universalist, Unitarian, or Unitarian Universalist. Whether we share a belief in creation, or the big bang theory, we are interconnected with the elements of the planet that we inhabit. We are spirit housed in our mortal flesh, and it is in being called to our higher selves, our spiritual selves that keeps us going.
That every individual by right of birth has inherent worth and dignity is the first principle of Unitarian-Universalism; this was highlighted in an engaging talk and original music presentation by singer-songwriter Joe DeMasi on Sunday May 30 2010. Joe, along with Chris Burke (Corky from “Life Goes On”) and John DeMasi (Joe’s brother and a member of the Dorothea Dix UU community) have created an inspirational and heartwarming video from Creative Arts and Abilities. The video, which is called “Yes I Can,” is inspiring people all over the world to believe in their abilities despite their differences. All people are valuable and all people possess abilities.
You can help spread the powerful message of hope and encouragement that this video brings by forwarding this link to everyone you know.
Creative Arts and Abilities is a not-for-profit organization that promotes inclusion and ability awareness through the visual and performing arts. To learn more about Creative Arts and Abilities and how you can continue the work of promoting and supporting inclusion, make a donation and help make a positive difference in people’s lives visit their web site: www.CreativeArtsAndAbilities.org.
You can order a DVD copy of this wonderful video for only $10.00 by visiting www.chrisburke.org. All proceeds benefit Creative Arts and Abilities.
Reading/Meditation: “The heart has its reasons….” Compiled by Professor Neil Greenberg, Member of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church
The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing, / For the intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. / Woe to the society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. / Let us remember that in the end, our choices are aesthetic. / Let us remember that when power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. / That when power narrows our concern, poetry reminds us of the richness and diversity of our existence. / That when power corrupts, poetry cleanses. / Let us honor the art that reflects the basic human truths which are the touchstone of our judgment.
I read somewhere that Americans don’t read poetry, because poetry requires emotional involvement and we are uncomfortable with our emotions. As a result, poetry takes an undeserved rap in our culture. Does anyone remember the Erie Kovacs character, Percy Dovetonsils, a spoof of poets and poetry? It pretty much sums up the general attitude that many people today have toward poetry. Percy was an effete, lisping poet whose stereotyped, effeminate image would probably be considered politically incorrect today. I watched as a teenager, and I laughed and imagined this was an accurate portrayal of poets and their fellow travelers.
In the 1960s, three events altered my concept of poets and poetry. My first awakening to the power of poetry occurred at a reading by Alan Ginsberg at Temple University when I was an undergraduate. He read Howl and Kaddish, and I was drawn into the power of words to connect you to another level of consciousness that transcended everyday reality.
As a small child I loved Christmas. It was a magical time for me. When we went to bed Christmas Eve the house looked the way it did every other night. No tree, no decorations, no presents. We awoke Christmas morning to the magic of the tree ablaze with lights. Presents were beneath it. It looked wonderful because there were presents for the four children – me and my three brothers. With the lights sparkling on the tree and the presents beneath it the room looked like a magic land. We opened presents, dressed in our finest clothes and went to the local Episcopal Church for the tradition Christmas service where we sang carols galore. We visited friends and relatives but mostly they visited us because we were six and they were fewer in number.
As a teen-ager I began to question the meaning of Christmas and had trouble singing the Christmas Carols as I did not believe the story they told. If I sang them I felt like a hypocrite. If I did not I felt out of sync with those around me. This feeling continued long into my adulthood even after joining the Unitarian Universerlist Church. I attended many UU Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services – some of which met my needs. Some of which didn’t even come close. I learned to pick and choose what fit my needs from the various services. I threw away was did not. I was a long coming to this conclusion- that it was okay to disregard what I felt was inappropriate for me. I could sing a few verses of some carols but not all verses of all carols. I could put the singing of carols down to being a part of the season even if I felt that the story was inaccurate and unbelievable. I could get up and walk out if something deeply offended me or I could tune out while appearing to pay attention. I could put together a service which met my secular needs – knowing that such a service might not meet someone else’s needs. I need not sit and be quiet. I could be proactive.
- Jim Scott Concert Acclaimed composer, singer, guitarist and earth-justice activist Jim Scott brings his unique jazz/world/folk style of music to our community on Saturday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m. Save the date - more details here.
- Winter Solstice Celebration Dec. 21 For more information click here.
Rent Our Space
The Dorothea Dix Unitarian Universalist Community has space to rent for events, gatherings, and recurring meetings. Click for details.