In Chapter 9 of her book, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture, Mary Pipher writes about the growth of the Nebraskan coalition to fight the TransCanada XL pipeline crossing their state. Pipher describes the Festival activities sponsored across the State of Nebraska for the purpose of convincing the Governor and State legislature to block and not approve the legislation necessary for the building of the pipeline. Pipher writes:
“That night, we had crested a wave. But Monday morning we were exactly in the same situation with our politicians that we had been in before the festival. This bittersweet phenomenon of a successful event paired with no discernible political gain seemed to be a chronic problem for our group.
However, we were experiencing a victory that could not be taken away from us. That is, we were by now a transcendent, connected community. We were learning that relationships always trump agendas, and that a good process is sustaining, regardless of outcome. I cannot emphasize how important relationships were to us at this point.
In fact, what I came to realize from my work with the coalition is that in individuals, families, communities, cultures, and even on earth itself, nothing good and beautiful lasts unless it is grounded in loving, interconnected relationships.” P.175-176
In reading this passage I am reminded of several of the Unitarian Universalist principles like number 7, “respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part,” and number one, “the inherent worth and dignity of every person,” and number 5, “the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society and large,” and number three, “the acceptance of one another and the encouragement to spiritual growth,” and number two, “justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.”
Piper’s story in The Green Boat is a story about bringing UU principles into application and the frustration, discouragement, and difficulties this entails as well as the satisfaction, fulfillment, and transcendent quality of working with others towards a positive social goal beyond our individual selves but which benefits all living things and the planet. Pipher describes herself, like many of us, depressed, despondent, even despairing before this coalition building effort but as they say “misery likes company” and joining with others they have transcended their own individual darkness. Jesus says that where two or more are gathered in my name there I will be. I don’t think that you necessarily need to believe that Jesus is God to observe this phenomenon. It can be seen in any city and some small towns in America and around the world where there are 12 step meetings held like Alcoholics Anonymous. It appears very counter-intuitive to put a couple of drunks in a room together and they help each other become sober. What happened to the cynical statement about “the blind leading the blind?” It happens that when the blind lead the blind they sometimes develop the ability to see.
This counter-intuitive, nonsensical faith in the transcendent power of recognition and acknowledgement and support for our interdependence leads to miraculous awareness of what A Course In Miracles calls the At-one-ment, the Atonement which is the end point of human evolution when human beings become one with everything or as I define it, when everybody loves everybody all the time.
The coalition which Pipher describes in Nebraska in 2010-2011 has this quality of a step towards the Atonement. This is a religious experience, a spiritual experience, which Unitarian Universalism recognizes, acknowledges, and actively promotes. While Pipher describes herself as the world’s worst Buddhist, the UUA might consider asking her if she would like to accept an honorary designation as a Unitarian Universalist luminary since she and her coalition light the way which the rest of us might do well to emulate.