Newsletters‎ > ‎

2009 - January

UUCMP Newsletter
January, 2009

Dear Friends,

I believe, as I write this (a few days before the inauguration) that we are at the crossroads of history.  I don’t think I overestimate the magnitude of what is before us.  Much of what we as people – and this country – and this world – will become will come from what is brought to the table and what is taken away.  If we hear the world’s call for us to be dutiful historians, we would do well to pay attention and watch carefully the important changes unfolding before us. 

A hundred months – and probably a lot more - have led up to this time.  Many look at the economy and use the word, ‘crisis.’  And certainly there is truth behind that dire word.  But I think the real crisis is not only about money.  It’s about the crisis in trust – trust being the premise which money is built on.  It’s about the crisis in relationship between neighbors which has developed as we’ve, more and more, narrowed our attention to matters of money.  And it’s about the crisis in leadership that has allowed all of this to happen. 

There is a penchant for greed that I have been seeing in our macro-economic system for some time.  I think it is born from over exposure to the side-effects of living in a capitalist system.  Without special care and feeding – without chances to develop trusting, intimate, rewarding relationships – most humans develop symptoms of insecurity, feeling they aren’t safe without surrounding themselves with ‘things.’ 

There is a saying within religious and wisdom circles that tells us that we are to ‘love people’ and ‘use things.’  But, in our insecurity, we tend to reverse that.  We start to love things and use people.  And when the fear spreads so broadly across our social landscape that it seems normative, we can either pursue some course of healing or learn to cope with feelings of cynicism, distrust and despair. 

The last one hundred months has revealed much leadership following the lesser instincts of fear in the people around them.  Benjamin Disraeli said, “I must follow the people.  Am I not their leader?”  I think this describes the leadership we’ve seen.  

Sometime between the time that I write this and you read it, a new president will be sworn into office.  He was elected, I believe, because we saw in him ‘the audacity to hope.’  For a person of color to speak as a leader in a country still so steeped in oppression takes unbelievable courage.  And it is that courage we wanted. 

I believe we wanted courage not for him to possess and wield, but for us.  I don’t think we voted for him because we wanted him to be great.  But because we wanted to be great.  And as Churchill once said, ‘the price of greatness is responsibility.’ 

The function of all great leaders is that they produce more leaders – not followers.  What the next president does in Washington is only as telling as what we do here in Monterey.  We are not here to be historians or observers but builders of a beloved community.  Or, as we used to say in my Chemistry days, ‘if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.’  And frankly I think we’ve all had enough of hanging out at the bottom. 

There is a new wave of leadership in the air and I urge you to be part of it.  The healing of what ails us will not come from afar but from within.  Get involved.  Join a committee.  Commit to some far reaching principles larger than you.  As John Naisbitt says, “Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.”

To the Glory of Life.