Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The unit of survival has inherent dignity and worth - Whole world in His hands

As Unitarian Universalists we covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person, but it has become to sound like a liberal cliche. It is a slogan everyone, just about, can agree to, but few practice because deep down we harbor a belief that some people are better that others. People like us are better, and people like them, well, they could use some improvement or they will never be as good as we.

What we often overlook or never come to realize is our utter dependence on our parents, our grandparents, our great parents, all of humanity and life for what we are, what we have, what we know, what we can do and even the "others" who, if nothing else, help us define our sense of self as being in comparison to.

What we are as Galen Guengerich points out in his book, God Revised, is best described as relationship. I become aware of myself in relationship to you, to others, to objects in the world. Even language, to name these things, is a social construction. So the idea of an individual, solitary self, is an illusion. The unit of survival as Mary Pipher points out in her book, The Green Boat, in referring to a quote by Gregory Bateson in his book, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, is "the organism and the environment." The organism would be nothing, couldn't exist without its environment and the environment would not be what it is without the organism.

It may seem too abstract to say that the unit of survival has inherent worth and dignity but it broadens our understanding in a way leading to wholeness, and enlightenment. It leads us to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the interconnectedness of life and it is this interconnectness which has worth and dignity as much as a single person who without his/her connections could not be who he or she is.

My Kind Of Church Music - Whole World In His Hands, Mahalia Jackson


  1. As John Donne said in his great poem, "No man is an island." Your idea that it is the relationship that has inherent worth and dignity is very interesting and ties in nicely with the seventh principle.

    Thank you for this article.

  2. A day in court and on the stand.

    Lawyer: "This is exhibit three. Ma'am, do you recognize the photo in question?"

    Woman: "Yes, I'm in it."

    Lawyer: "And were you present when the photograph was taken?"

  3. A college student emailed her parents: "Dear Mom and Dad, I've been worried sick because I haven't heard from you. Please put some money in my bank account so I know you're OK."

  4. Mahalia is the best! Can you imagine her singing in a UU church? And this would be a perfect song. Are there UU churches with gospel choirs besides All Souls in Tulsa?