On the Inherent Worth and Dignity of Every Person

The gist of the headline above represents the first of seven principles that lie at the core of my Unitarian Universalist faith tradition. During my congregation’s church service this morning, I delivered the following reflection on the subject.

I have always loved the human pageant. I remember as a young man sitting in coffee shops or on park benches, admiring the passing parade, the ceaseless flux of humanity like the most gentle and warm tides. Lovers strolling slowly by, kids gamboling across the grass like lambs in spring, and over yonder, a spirited soccer game between Ecuadorian and German immigrants.

I look into those wild frightening eyes, and I ask, ‘Is there some scintilla of worth and dignity in there? Is there anything recognizably human and good within that shell of a body and a life gone so horribly wrong?’

It’s easy to feel an almost overwhelming love of humanity in such settings...

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One More Thing I Was Wrong About: Bernie Would’ve Won

So yes, we wuz robbed:

Fidelity to an antiquated, fatally flawed electoral college system that violates every tenet of one-person, one-vote.

Active voter suppression efforts in key Southern states.

Russian hacking.

Fake news.

James Comey.

But we were also wrong.

So, so wrong.

***

When Donald Trump announced his candidacy, a couple of friends and I engaged in a long-running email laughfest that treated him as the joke we thought he truly was. Surely, such an obviously uninformed, narcissistic buffoon and royalist billionaire had zero chance of becoming president, but we would at least enjoy the comic value of his candidacy while it lasted.

So, so wrong.

On the other side of the aisle, Bernie Sanders rode some of the same heat of anti-establishment rhetoric as did Trump, but with the key difference that he was actually informed and articulate...

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Hungary and Syria: A Tale of Two Diasporas

We are born into a particular place to particular people, absorbing the world we find and then habituating to its rhythms and requirements. The routine of being cared for intimately in a state of comfort and stability is our natural desire and need; children cannot thrive without it.

That said, human beings grow to become curious, adventurous and mobile creatures, often, though not in every case, ranging far from our original habitats in voluntary pursuit of economic betterment and new experience.

There is an involuntary shadow side to our mobility, however. Sometimes, life confronts us with forced relocation when famine, political upheaval or war (those three are often related) give us little choice but to leave our nests and strike out, in desperate circumstances, for the great unknown.

When this involves great swaths of a population, it merits the biblical term “diaspora.” (Deuteronomy 28:25, from ...

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Fourth Annual Holiday Photo Gallery

There were times this past year when it seemed, well, it still seems, I must admit, that the world took a step or two backwards on this jagged evolutionary trail we have been traversing over the eons. And thus the tale seems to go, our better angels not yet prevailing all the time, still subject to all the old familiars—fear, greed, avarice, anger—and all the resultant wars, famines and heads-in-the-sand that keep us, if nothing else, the most exasperating/interesting species ever to bestride this earth.

But: it is surely true, too, as evidenced by the legions of people every single one of us knows and observes in such abundance, that our better angels prevail more often than not.

That fact accounts for quite a lot of something in my book. I hope it does in yours, too.

Meanwhile, we have art, among the most intense and tireless expressions of human love we have ever devised...

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Taking What Comes

So we make our plans, God and the fates rather quickly having their laugh at our folly while merrily shuffling the deck of our future.

Fifty-two possibilities from the get-go, eventually multiplied a million-fold by the cards still to be lain down in front of us, where they are joined by others in new configurations, or discarded by us, our volition exercised, in favor of yet more possibility.

But doesn’t every boy want to be a fireman when he grows up?

There are the genes, of course. Parents 5’1″ & 5’5”; you will not be playing center for the Lakers, no matter the compelling golden glow of those uniforms and your most fervent prayers.

The randomness of birth and its attendant geography, the weight of the land and the history of its people branding themselves upon you.

The Russians, the Spaniards, the Saudis, the Fijians and Turks.

The Swiss, the Italians, the Mexicans and Aussies.

National stereot...

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