One of the challenges facing UU congregations, and all social justice movements at this time, is how to sustain social justice activities needed to promote or at least defend the rights, liberties, environmental protection, and basic resources that we have worked so hard for. How can congregations prioritize and sustain efforts when so many of these are being brutally challenged? Many UUs not only lack sufficient volunteer energy--they lack hope, too! The minister's role is to inspire hope and to help the congregation develop the ability to understand how diverse social justice priorities intersect and can work cooperatively toward a shared vision.
A metaphor may be helpful. Imagine our social justice activities and priority areas are embodied by passengers on a sinking ship. The sinking ship represents our oppressive systems and destructive interests dismantling basic rights and degrading the environment. Now, each passenger clambering up the mast one over the other only changes the order of suffering. The goal is to get them all to a better ship! Instead of priorities on a sinking ship, they need to coordinate--some bailing water by the leaks, others patching, others radioing for help. The congregation and social justice leaders need opportunities to decide who needs to do what and above all to work together.
It is vital that we find ways to connect when commitments differ. But solidarity can be a challenge, especially when we need education about an issue or about our privilege. Still, there are ways to connect without shaming and competition. Before education, I always put the other person in my heart first. I ask myself, what do they care about? We are all in the same boat, and working in solidarity we can find a way.