Love is the Light

Love is the Light

When I first heard that the UUA General Assembly (GA) was going to be held in Pittsburgh this year, I was pretty thrilled. I’ve wanted to go to GA for a long time, and this was being held not only in easy driving distance, but IN MY HOMETOWN. I don’t go back often, but there will always be a piece of my heart that belongs to the ‘Burgh. I’ve already started making a mental list of activities for the week — things just for me (spending some time just sitting and watching the fountain at Point State Park) and experiences to share with other UUCC folks (riding the incline to Mt. Washington and eating at Primanti’s.) But of course, all of these things will be outside of my obligations as a delegate, if I’m lucky enough to be chosen for that, because this will be an important year for GA. Have you had a chance to read the Article II Study Report to the Board of Trustees yet? Just as UUCC has been looking at our Values, Mission, and Ends, the UUA has been reassessing everything that Unitarian Universalism is, stands for, believes, values, and fights for. And the report proposes some pretty big ideas. I stop short of calling them “changes” though, because that, to me at least, implies something new, something that wasn’t there before, and there aren’t really any actual changes in direction in the report. It reads to me as much more of a clarification of who we are and what we believe, in this time and this place, in the world of 2023. Specifically, it focuses on Unitarian Universalism being all about the love.

I am still, 13 years since I joined UUCC, in awe of being part of a religious community that is truly a LIVING tradition. I grew up Catholic; Catholicism has had one change in 2000 years. (And I know a lot of Catholics never liked the changes — my Granny was permanently crabby that anything had changed at all.) But the world changes ALL THE TIME — so much is different now than even from 2010, when I joined UUCC, it’s almost hard to keep up with how fast the world changes. It’s definitely become more harsh, with more jagged edges. We’re being intentionally divided and pitted against one another, which feels very ugly. And a lot of people are struggling. Really struggling.  That’s the world context in which the Article II committee has been doing their work, and their report details the inescapable conclusion that the only way to counter the hate that has been growing so large is with love. Dr. King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

I love a lot about being a UU. I am a pretty logical thinker, relying a lot on reason, rationality, and critical thinking. I know that nothing exists in a vacuum, that everything is connected and interdependent. I’ve always been a tree-hugger, I love the differences in cultures and the ways learning about them enriches our lives, and I believe strongly that democracy is essential for peaceful co-existence. All of these values being prized in Unitarian Universalism and being enunciated so clearly in the 7 Principles was the first thing that drew me to checking out Unitarian Universalism. These values are a huge part of the DNA of UU, and they are well represented in the proposed revision of Article II. But, love is the foundation of everything we do and believe in as Unitarian Universalists. Nothing is more important and valuable than people — there is no prize, no ideal, no concept more precious than our fellow members of humanity, and it fills my heart and spirit to see love for others being set as our highest calling. All of our values are important, but we’re in a lot of darkness right now, and love is the light that will drive it out. I pray every day for the strength to live up to that need, for me and you. May it be so.


  1. Kathy Parker

    Melissa, this is a lovely message. I think we all understand about the “jagged edges” in today’s world, and we need all the inspiration we can get to address these issues. Thank you for bringing your thoughts on love to our attention. Kathy

  2. Laurie Coltri

    Beautifully said, Melissa!

    For me, the term “compassionate action” says it all. Compassion is active concern for the suffering and needs of others. It requires empathy, but empathy itself is just mirrored emotion. Raw empathy can be overwhelming, and block compassionate action. Empathy, plus enough distance and individuation to stay grounded, is necessary to be able to act compassionately.

    Also – to act compassionately AND HAVE THE INTENDED EFFECT, it is necessary to follow the head as well as the heart. History is rife with examples of people who, in the name of helping others, did great harm.

    To me, to act compassionately requires the exercise of reason and the understanding that comes from knowledge and the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. In a lot of cases, acting compassionately requires understanding a situation from a scientific perspective. One obvious example is the pursuit of climate justice. Science must also be practiced through a lens of critical theory to avoid the science yielding biased results.

    I have noticed that people often dichotomize love, on the one hand, and reason, on the other. For me, these things are not dichotomous. That’s why I’m a UU.

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