Social Justice Matters!
Spring 2018 vol 3, issue 1
Welcome to Turning Point! Our name echoes the widespread recognition that our planet, and our humanity, has arrived at a pivotal turning point in evolutionary history. At the center of which lies a summoning call to each of us: to nurture a vital presence that continuously regenerates our lives and enlivens the whole of life as well.
We invite you to imagine this journal as a forum for inspired conversation around how we might best envision and care for our world—and each article, simply a means to begin a conversation. Conversation that calls us to see beyond our own time yet act on behalf of the love that wants to live through us, now.
May we act in Beauty, act from Inspiration, act Together…
United States of Awareness
My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.
-Adrienne Rich (from “Natural Resources”)
This year’s 50thanniversary of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy has prompted many of us to reflect on the tumultuous year of 1968. Widespread protests against war, racism and sexism crested into “mass movements,” initiating many of our generation into our first engagement in the arena of political activism. The publication of Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb initiated further demonstrations and a heated debate on the Earth’s “carrying capacity” as it warned of severe environmental consequences stemming from human over-population and unregulated industry. Our country’s divisive participation in the Vietnam War was well underway, even as the Apollo 8 mission returned that same year with the captivating Earthrise photograph—revealing a planet without a trace of the borderlines used to justify countless human conflicts. It was both an unsettling and formative period, to say the least, for many of our generation. Read more…
Our Evolving ‘Network of Mutuality’
by Pat Hoertdoerfer
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…
One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant
goal that we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
The most serious issues facing the world today are issues of justice and peace. Terrorism, gun violence, hunger, poverty, wealth inequality, discrimination, torture, pollution, depletion of natural resources, and global warming are all issues of justice and peace. Although the magnitude and urgency of these problems are unprecedented in human history, issues of justice and peace have always been central concerns of human beings. Yet today we seem to be at a critical threshold. Read more…
Today I Must Try to Speak
by John Ivey
Today I must try to speak.
I am struggling to say something intelligible about community, modernity, and the need of all people and cultures to find respectful interdependence with food and all that sustenance means. And the often hard-to-grasp realization that all of life breathes in unity—inhaling, exhaling, expanding and contracting, as this Earth’s heartbeat.
I struggle with my authority to speak for a people who live in such an ancient balanced relationship with an ecosystem that the term “Deep Ecology” appears as an intellectualized conceptualization, a self-evident term arising from an alien culture struggling to remember that food originates some place other than on a shelf in the fridge or the Super Store.
The First Nation Arctic people known as Gwich’in (a name translated as “one who dwells”) believe that their ancient way of life is in imminent threat of destruction—the latest conquest of an oil-addicted culture run by short-sighted corporations and politicians who view the living landscape as little more than a commodity. By leasing oil drilling rights to corporations, the U.S. Department of the Interior has just signed what may be a death warrant for over 200,000 members of the Porcupine caribou herd and their calving grounds—and by extension, a cultural extinction for the Gwich’in who live in familial oneness with the being of this herd. Read more…
Place and Peace
by Carl Anthony
Those of us that came of age during the 1960’s contributed to, and benefited from, the breakthroughs of that turbulent and regenerative time. We have come into maturity and are now poised to offer important leadership and support in achieving the quantum leap in human social and ecological relationships that were seeded by futuristic thinkers of that time. Such leadership, built upon an empowering understanding of the past and an inclusive vision of the future, requires a larger narrative framework, in which struggles for human justice are linked with the stories of Earth and cosmos.
My intention is to contribute to a common story that harnesses the power of the universe story and includes people of non-European descent. Adopting the story of the universe as a framework for thinking about issues of racial oppression can give us a larger perspective in which to conceptualize environmental issues. If we think only in terms of the moment in which we’re struggling, i.e., the rapidly changing post-industrial world, we can feel discouraged. We obviously don’t have enough time to reconstruct our entire social and economic system. However, placing ourselves within the context of the universe story gives us more time and more space in which to shape our story and our strategy. Read more…
The Moral Voice of an Elder
by Lynne Iser
When I married my husband 19 years ago, I understood that his being a rabbi could place certain constraints on our public lives, having to do with the morals and ethical values of our tradition. But it was not until I heard him being interviewed several years later, in his role as a “clergy person”, that I realized that I too have a moral voice that is seeking to be heard at this stage of life.
I now find myself exploring what I call “the moral voice of an elder”. When I voice this exploration to others I might get a nod of understanding from some folks, but more often I register a distinct cringe from others.
I suspect that those who cringe are reacting to the idea of a “moralizing” voice, though the use of the word “elder” within our public discourse is still so rare that it is almost a double whammy. Read more…
Indigenous Ritual and Restorative Healing
by Patricia St. Onge
When she was three, my daughter Bre ran to me crying. We were in a park, and as I sat nearby reading a magazine, she was happily talking to herself in the sandbox. Another Mom arrived with her two young children. A few minutes later, my bright-eyed baby had tears streaming down her face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“They won’t play with me ‘cause I’m brown.”
My heart stopped. Then tears spilled out from my eyes, and my heart broke open.
What happens when the brokenness of the world crashes into our lives? In recent years, as I’ve watched the unfolding stories of the murders of unarmed people (overwhelmingly people of color: men, women, children), the wounding is fresh with each one, and it sits on the scars of generations. Burned, lynched, forced marched, dying along the way. What heals the collective broken heart of a community that has experienced injustice? Read more…
A Network of Mutuality
Martin Luther King Jr.
We are caught in an inescapable
network of mutuality, tied in a
single garment of destiny.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to
There are some things in our social
system to which all of us ought to
Hatred and bitterness can never cure the
disease of fear, only love can do that.
We must evolve for all human
conflict a method which rejects revenge,
aggression, and retaliation.
The foundation of such a method is love.
Before it is too late, we must narrow
the gaping chasm between our proclamations
of peace and our lowly deeds which
precipitate and perpetuate war.
One day we must come to see
that peace is not merely a distant
goal that we seek but a means by
which we arrive at that goal.
We must pursue peaceful ends
through peaceful means.
We shall hew out of the mountain
of despair, a stone of hope.
Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. as compiled in the Unitarian Universalist Association hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition, Boston: Beacon Press, 1993.