“Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless and corrupt. And a citizen who barters with such a state shares in its corruption and lawlessness.” Mahatma Gandhi

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Trade Unionist
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-
Because I am not a Jew
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984)

Those words by Reverend Niemoller referred to the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and their purging of the opposition, group by group. As a humanist, public surveys show a homosexual person would sit in the Oval Office before such as me. Maybe why it’s been a personal pillar of faith for me that silence implies consent. As many of you well know! Indeed that was a primary factor that guided my steps to this congregation, when a little house on Carmel Drive in Fort Walton was our church home during the Eighties.
In those days our congregants were among the rare, white faces showing up to honor Dr. King. Our founders, Mack and Ann Piper, were charter members of our first Humanist chapter, although they weren’t up to some of the marches and demonstrations. Much as Bell and I aren’t now. But as the old song goes, “Those were the days my friend!”
Do you also sense a resurgence of that spirit within today’s UUA? Not a moment too soon! A Principle, as Webster define it, “a fundamental truth, a comprehensive law or doctrine from which others are derived, or from which others are framed, a general truth, or elementary proposition. A maxim or axiom, a postulate.” One need look no further than the Humanist Manifestoes to find the bedrock of our own UU Principles!
Perhaps the current state of affairs haven’t become in Gandhi’s words “lawless and corrupt,” nonetheless when political geography has been gerrymandered to where seats are made “safe” year after year; when election suppression tools like manipulation of voter rolls (here in Florida and elsewhere); when “dark” money its agents distort facts upon which a democratic, self-government is based – these corrupt practices have brought millions to the streets. When violence and poverty stock the worlds wealthiest and most Christian nation. When 70% of the human family own only 3% of our wealth, surely it’s troubling. When we are no longer feel like the bell weather of progress, our East under water and West ablaze, finally brows furrow and voices begin to rise.
Such causes of gender, ethnicity, nationality and inequality have awakened much of our sisterhood and youth – including our own UUA leadership, shackled and led off to jail. Clearly all our churches and fellowships reflect the regions and settings from which they’ve sprung, yet all encompass the same principle driven destiny. There have been times, even in our own little tribe and surroundings, it was frowned upon to be politically outspoken, as that might surely prove offensive to someone. This may well be considered within that framework, not as the intended, liberal dissertation in times of political peril and disarray. Please view it for what it is. A rallying cry!
A former minister of ours, Reverend Debs, was fascinated by these words of Edward Everett Hale. “I am only one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. And will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
Yes, we still can!