Heart & Mind - Dr. Lou Yock - August 2018
Heart & Mind - Dr. Lou Yock
When we reflect on the long struggles individuals and groups have had in gaining rights and the ability to participate as equals in society, their ultimate success resulted from their resilience. In the end, when it comes to human rights and justice, it is believing enough in our causes to endure the reversals of fortunes and the setbacks that ultimately allow justice to prevail.
In studying history, one becomes acutely aware of how rapidly things change, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. One group seems to be getting things just their way, and then in a blink of an eye, almost inexplicably, everything begins to go the other way. The Greeks called these reversals Fate, People of the Book call it God’s Will, some consider it a test, others retribution. But whatever one calls it, or whether or not it has a larger purpose or design, we cannot seem to escape the unexpected turn of events that cause people to consider giving up.
But then we remember people like Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison. And we recall institutions abandoning principles, like in the Dred Scott (1857) and Korematsu (1944) cases, infamous Supreme Court decisions that continue to haunt our country. We look to those who suffered during the Civil Rights era, and endured events like the Birmingham Church Bombing (1963). We read Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” where he writes of nonviolence when facing down evil.
What all these examples have in common, and why we honor them and look to them as examples, is that they are demonstrations of resilience. As UU’s, rather than seeing events as Fate or God’s Will, we work to improve our lives and the lives of others despite, or even because of, the setbacks. Our churches, our Church, is to be a center of resilience, a place where we gather to renew our hope and desire to continue on in fighting the good fight.
“The best acts of resistance are acts of resilience,” says one of the community organizers who worked to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. At our church we believe in something greater than ourselves—the arc of the moral universe that bends towards justice. We stay focused on the moment, and strive to be steady through confusion and despair. We come to remind ourselves to bring out the best in ourselves, and the best in others.