'Justice is what Love looks like in public,' Cornel West often told us in seminary. Unitarian Universalism has at our heart the conviction that not only is a better world is possible, but that it will be built by human hands.
My ministry and theology of social change is rooted in the observation that ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’[Note] Our theology as Unitarian Universalists calls us to work to bend the arc, knowing that the beloved community is possible. The work of building a just and peaceful world will extend beyond any of our lifetimes, but it is all the more important for it.
The work of justice is work that must be both internal and external. External, in our constant public witness for justice in the world. My engagement with public witness is through the lens of congregational community organizing, bringing networks of churches and religious institutions together in common cause. From Baltimore to Long Island, the most effective social change work I have seen has not been confined to a single building, but has come through intentional relationship and organizing across denominations and faiths.
This work is also internal. While we cast a vision of the world as it ought to be, we live in the world as it is. We each carry biases, barriers that hold us back from living up to our aspirations. It is critical that as much as we engage outside the walls of our homes and communities, we also do the hard work of self-reflection and transformation.
The world we look to build can seem far away, rarely more so than in the past few years. Yet faith calls us to the possibility that transformation is possible, that the world as it is cannot be the only option. To be a part of that transformation is a responsibility, but also a joy.
[Note] Made famous by its use by Martin Luther King, a version of this phrase was preached by Rev. Theodore Parker, a Boston Unitarian minister and abolitionist in the years leading up to the Civil War.