In the Episcopal baptismal covenant; the bishop asks; Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being. The respond is I will with God’s help.
As a Criminal justice major, I learned about truth in sentencing, drugs and society, the challenges of reintegration, restorative justice, health challenges of the incarcerated, victim impact statements, drug, juvenile, veteran diversion courts and environmental advocacy, policy and law. I believe that police should wear body armor and body cameras. There are courageous individuals fire, police, first responders and emergency personnel, that every day respond to fatal car accidents, veteran suicide, opiate overdoses, accidental death, homicides and events such as the Marathon bombings and 9/11. My hero was my father in law a NY detective and Korean war veteran.
What I believe is the inherent dignity of each and every human being. Each human life is worthy of dignity and respect. I believe in One God the Father Almighty. I believe God loves each and every one of us no matter gender, race, religion or preference. I believe that everyone has the right to clean water, clean air, safe housing, health care, an education and a just and fair judicial system. The founding principles of our County are based on individual rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by our Supreme Court and Constitution. Free speech comes with enormous responsibilities. Let us use it wisely. I believe that every voice counts. Every vote counts. Make your voice and vote count. Bring a friend to the polls in November.
I believe that we need to pass comprehensive gun reform, not to take away rights but to ensure responsible ownership. I believe in changing the laws for gun shows, national background checks, and extended waiting periods. I believe in attending House and Senate sessions. I believe in meeting with your legislators. Write to them, lobby them, demand change. Change is hard, change is difficult. Courage is the Sandy Hook teacher’s pensions that has called for the divestment from gun manufactures. I have divested from gun manufacturing and believe in socially responsible impact investing. Courage was seeing Matt Richards mother and sister at the Louis D Brown, Peace for Jorge Mother’s Day Walk for peace last year after losing their son and brother in the Marathon bombing. Today, is the twentieth anniversary and the walk is to the state house. Walking today are the personnel from the emergency rooms and hospitals, the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends and those that have lost loved ones.
This quote is from the Mother’s Day Walk for peace, “Peace is not the absence of Violence. Peace is the presence of Healing, Reconciliation and accountability.” “The 7 principals for peace are love, unity, faith, hope, courage, justice, and forgiveness.” One way we can remember those that have died is to remember what they believed, what they valued, and who they loved. To remember them is to continue to carry on the work and continue to call for reform and change. God so loved the world and so must we.
Prayer for Social Justice:
Grant O God that your holy and life giving spirit may so move every human heart (and especially the hearts of the people of this land that barriers that divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease, that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen
(The Book of Common Prayer)
Picture a man living by the ocean. He lives well, surrounded by friends and family, spending his days on the warm, bright beach with the cool ocean breeze at his back. He’s a deeply religious man, going to church every week and diligently doing charitable works. One day, interrupting this man’s paradise, a forecaster announces that a hurricane is headed toward them that will certainly destroy the town. The man, instead of panicking, resolves to stay, thinking, “I am an upright Christian. I know God loves me. God will surely save me.” Later, as the clouds roll in and the wind picks up, his son visits him, pleading, “Father, please come away with me. The storm will flood your home.” The man responds, “Oh my son of little faith, the storm is merely a test. I am religious, so I know God will save me.” Then, as the wind howls and the thunder booms, a police officer passes the man’s house, yelling to the man, “The hurricane is here. Can’t you see that the sea is rising? Let me get you away from the beach.” But the man resolutely states, “I’m not moving, for God loves me, and God alone will save me from the storm.”
If we lived in the world of the Bible, this story would end much like the ending of Abraham and Isaac: divine intervention where God literally stops Abraham’s hand from killing his son. The man would be swooped away by an angel and flown to safety, or Christ, walking on water, would appear to calm the waters of the storm. But we do not live in that world; the man drowned. By just opening a newspaper, we can clearly see that inequity, suffering, and malice pervades our world with no apparent grand purpose behind it all. In this world, it is easy to resign to Nietzcheism, that life is only about one’s ability to thrive over others. However, this only serves to perpetuate the pain and seeming meaninglessness of existence.
When the man arrives in heaven, he angrily asks St. Peter, “Why did God let me die?” Peter answered, “Oh you fool, he tried to save you with a weatherperson, an officer, and your son. Why are you here?”
I believe in the divine orchestra. God of our time cannot be a single violin playing an isolated musical line, just as God isn’t an omnipotent, old man with a white beard. Instead, God is the sublimity of all the instruments combined, for God has the capacity to live in all of us if we truly carry out our charge to love one another. Just as instruments support and build each other up in symphonies to create something greater than its parts divided, humans, loving each other, must do so in this life to evoke the divine. So, in what do I believe? Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est: Where charity and love abide, God is also there.
For most of my life, I felt like I was living two different lives. There’s the life that everybody sees, where I’m kind, helpful, and considerate. It’s what people would tell you if you asked them who I was, and it’s probably how I’d describe myself too. I wouldn’t be lying, but I wouldn’t be telling you the truth either. Because there’s the life that everyone sees, and there’s the life that I see. In this life, I’m sick, and I’m dying: I’m someone struggling with depression.
I had always thought that being depressed was the consequence of tragedy and suffering. I know many believe it is a natural condition that everyone encounters – and overcomes – at some point in their lives. But depression is not always synonymous with sadness or grief. Rather, it is a sickness that nullifies life into a dull melancholy. Depression, at its core, strips away the spirit of makes us alive.
Before my depression, I had defined myself as a hard worker, as someone who was mentally tough and strong. But when I got sick, I found myself losing whatever enthusiasm or energy I had for life. Everything, from talking to friends and going to class, became tedious and difficult, and I soon found myself paralyzed with anxiety, unable to do much of anything but lay in bed all day. It took me a long time to realize that I was in trouble and in need of help. And even then, I continued to see myself as unworthy of anyone’s love, thinking no one would actually pity me enough to care for my well-being. But depression often traps you in a prison of self-loathing and delusion. It leaves a void within your own vulnerable psyche, and only compassion and forgiveness can fill and overflow it.
It was hard finding the courage to share my experience with others, and even harder learning how to receive their support once I did. Initially, I felt embarrassed to be associated with the stigmas of mental illness and be seen as a rehabilitating failure. But the empathy that persevered through strangers and close friends alike helped me accept the notion that it was okay to be the person in need. “People might have bigger problems than you’,” a friend said, “but that doesn’t make it any less important.”
Speaking about my depression doesn’t make things easier, but it has helped me found meaning in this torturous experience. And despite the hell I’ve faced over the past six months, I am grateful for the profound insight it has given me. I now see the value of compassion, and how the good we feel comes when we help others in need. Someday, I hope I can repay the kindness given to me to those that are trapped like I once was. And I hope that, in spite of the struggles each of us face in our lives, we can make a conscious effort in ensuring that it’s a fight no one faces alone.
This I believe.
I hear the voice that speaks all things into being. I hear the still-small voice in the rainfall and in the sunrise.
I hear the still-small voice in the footsteps of passers by and in the flight of the birds overhead.
Over these last three years I have heard it more clearly than ever in the brilliance of my classmates at the School of the Prophets.
That same voice, an inner voice, lives in each of us but more importantly in all of us and in the connections between us.
If we listen to the voice, we learn how to be, how to thrive in the kingdom of God. If we listen, we learn how to be what others need of us so that they can also thrive in the kingdom of God. If we listen, we learn how each of us belongs to the other.
We can’t fully understand the still-small voice alone. It is beyond us. If we listen intently and share all that we have heard with others who are also listening intently we all begin to understand.
This I believe. That the voice of the Lord speaks a word to each of us and in community we learn the sentences, the pages, the chapters, indeed, the book.
This voice that speaks all things into existence has re-told my story. It has taken my shame and doubt, my worries and fears and told me to ignore them so that I can practice for a life in the Kingdom. It has re-told my story so that I can join with confidence in the story of our existence.
Here, at the School of Theology, as I heard the future prophets speak, I have learned to listen more intently to the still-small voice, to hear my word. I will take my word to you, please take your words to me and to each other and together we will begin to understand and thrive as God intended.
This I believe.
I grew up in southern Virginia. My town was white, middle-class, and conservative. As a liberal Unitarian Universalist, I could not wait to move to Boston. With large UU churches and the UUA headquarters, I was convinced that everyone in Boston must be Unitarian Universalist. I thought I was moving to a place where everyone would be just like me.
So, I was pretty shocked when I got to BU and realized actually no one here was just like me. There is diversity here, unlike anything I could have imagined. I remember the surreal experience of walking from my freshman dorm to the matriculation ceremony, and meeting someone from Bangladesh. Another time, I ate Indian food with a friend who’d grown up in India. I listened, mesmerized, as my roommate spoke to her mom on the phone, switching between English and Cantonese. The world that had been so small, grew.
As it grew, my understanding of my place within it changed too. I learned about my privilege as an educated, white, American woman. I learned that in order to fight the systems that gave me this privilege, I would have to hear a wide diversity of voices.
This year, I followed a call to build communities that facilitate positive encounters with difference. As president of BU’s Interfaith Council I have helped bring people together from different religions, people who have been taught not to work together, in order to have honest dialogue, and build community.
This I believe
This world is filled with different people. People whose faces, histories and languages do not resemble mine, or my home community’s. Yet, my life is deeply enriched by learning from these differences. I cannot undo the world’s injustice, the hatred and pain, if I am not learning from and collaborating with these other voices.
As I work to listen to the experiences of others, I am reminded of what connects us all. I believe in a divine light that lives within each of us. This light reminds me to love each person I come in contact with, no matter our differences. It teaches me to love their beauty and inherent goodness, even as I love their failings, ignorance, and mistakes.
This I believe, that my faith calls me to love all people and the divinity that lives in them. And as I do this to remember my own divine light.
There was nothing like starting anew far from friends and family, to reveal the poison that is the isolation in our culture. Through our diversity, we are meant to be interconnected and yet, systems of competition, greed and hate pull us from each other.
This I believe, that by participating in community that is subversive and caring we break the walls of isolation and that give us an illusion of separateness. I have learned so much as a student here, but most of all I have learned that despite our differences and our struggles, we belong to a single human family.
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