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Minister - Terry Sims

Our Minister - Terry Sims

John Cline

Minister's Messages - 2017

April

 

From the Minister’s Desk: I want to share with you part of a remarkably insightful interview I heard on March 14, 2017. [“A popular Arab satirist takes on the rise of nationalism, PRI’s The World, March 14, 2017, https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-03-14/popular-arab-satirist-takes-risenationalism.] Marco Worman, host of “The World” radio show, was interviewing Karl Sharro, a London-based Lebanese satirist. Sharro writes under the pseudonym “Karl reMarks.” “A lot of people scoffed at Samuel Huntington in 1992 when he argued that the world faced a “clash of civilizations.” In a lecture, the political scientist put forward a hypothesis that cultural and religious identity would be the primary source of conflict in a world just emerging from the ideological struggles of the Cold War. "Identity politics" are now all the rage, with advocates in the White House and the Kremlin seeming to believe that Western civilization is on a collision course with Islam and possibly China. Hindu nationalists are on the rise in India. Many Chinese are also happy that their nation is feeling its oats.” Sharro said “it’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy, in that the world has increasingly adopt[ed] this particularist prism of seeing the world, seeing it through their own immediate cultural experience and defining themselves through what we broadly call now 'identity politics' . . . . In Europe, politicians across the continent are profiting from fear of the “other.” The most common targets are Muslims.” “Sharro . . . attributes the phenomenon in part to the decline of “big ideas” like liberalism and socialism, allowing many people to see the world through what he calls “narrow, cultural prisms.” “To be fair,” he adds, “it’s happening all around the world, but it probably has a bigger impact in the West because of its immediate political manifestations and what used to be thought of as the advanced position of the West. It’s quite a tragic setback.” “[W]hen you see culture as destiny,” Sharro says, “this is quite a dangerous thing, because there is no choice. If your identity is what you’re born into, if your identity is all about your cultural identity, this is a form of biological and cultural determinism.” “That means you can’t change as a person,” he adds. “You can’t have different points of view. And these are fundamental to the ideas of unshackling ourselves from the limitations of our immediate surroundings and from the . . . weight of the past . . . [. T]o . . . transform ourselves, and to create, especially today with the movement of people all around the world, to create much more diverse and inclusive societies that can accept everyone and still retain the ability to function and not be divisive.” Our Sixth UU Principle affirms and promotes “the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.” The ethno-nationalism and identification with other narrow characteristics we see spreading across the world would undo the progress the world has made toward understanding the reality that we are a global community, even when we do not act like it. We have no choice but to share each other’s waters, air, ice caps, forests, and soil – and each other’s destruction and pollution of them, too. Migration across physical borders and across national, ethnic, racial, and religious identifiers is a fact. Trade is global and economies are enmeshed. Science, history, and the arts belong to all of us, as do wars, starvation, and disease. Humanity will not progress, and may not survive, by retreating to the past in fear behind isolationist policies and border walls. We have a responsibility to ourselves and this world to resist the trend of ethnonationalism, identity politics, and the death of big ideas. We are citizens of the world, as are the rest of our fellow human beings who happened to be born in, or migrated into, a nation, culture, ethnicity, or religion different from ours. It is not for us to follow where little minds and small hearts would lead us. No, it falls to us to raise up again and again the goal of world community, that it may lead us all forward together. I’ll see you in church. Yours in our UU faith, Terry .