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Love in Action = Justice in Progress by Kathy E. Smith, Director of Family Ministry

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Words to Live By

“Justice is what love looks like in public.”

Dr. Cornel West

    Unitarian Universalists believe that our faith calls us to work for justice – to create a world that is fair and peaceful for everyone.  We believe that justice can only happen when we plant ourselves firmly on the side of love – when we ask ourselves, “what would the highest calling of love for my fellow human being or for humankind require me to do in this instance?” and act accordingly. 

    Asking “what does love call me to do right now for someone else?” doesn’t necessarily come naturally, although with practice it can become second nature to us.  (To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives and our character … what we are worshipping, we are becoming.”) 

    It isn’t just about the dramatic moment – the opportunity to rescue a trapped animal or step up to a schoolyard bully – although those things are often what we think of when we think about justice.  Love in action can be the small everyday actions that create small moments of justice.  Love in action can be seeing someone standing alone in the cafeteria (or the church sanctuary) and patting the seat next to you.  Love in action can be learning to pronounce someone’s name correctly.  It can be speaking up to correct a negative stereotype in a joke someone just told, or it can be speaking your feelings of discomfort at hearing the joke at all.  It is these small moments of love for our fellow human beings that move individuals and therefore the world, ever so slightly, towards justice. 

    And what about the larger picture?  Love for humanity certainly motivates us to work for a better world by carefully considering the propositions we will vote for, whether we will join a protest march, or how we will vacation.  But it motivates us to countless small actions as well.  Love in action can be choosing to buy – and use – a water filter and a stainless steel water bottle, because draining aquifers and producing an endless supply of plastic bottles affects us all.  Love in action can be writing a letter or making a phone call to a public official about a policy that unfairly impacts transgender individuals, because public policy is in part guided by public response.  Love in action can be staying compassionately engaged with a conversation about Black Lives Matter on social media even when it gets difficult, because it is only in relationship and community that minds and hearts can change.  It is in these small moments of love for humanity that the world can move, ever so slightly, towards justice for all. 

    By the way, if you are interested in doing some further reading on some of the topics lifted up in this article, check out one or more of these links: