It Is Not Enough to Be Right

Rev. Bill Sinkford is a prophetic voice in the world of Unitarian Universalism. By “prophetic”, I mean the Old Testament meaning, not of someone who predicts the future, but of someone who “challenge[s] us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love”. (UUA’s 2nd Source) Sinkford is someone who calls Unitarians to repent, i.e., to change.

This past January, in the wake of the Washington D.C. insurrection, Sinkford gave a sermon on racism and the choice which is now presented to all Americans. He had these words for his Unitarian congregation: Being right is not enough.

“It is not enough to be right, for us to be on the right side of history…though we are. It is not enough to have the perfect analysis. It is effectiveness we need, not righteousness. We need to begin changing things. Real lives are hanging in the balance.

“… there are many who hold that other vision whom we probably cannot convince. We will try to change hearts and minds…certainly of those people we are close to. But I believe we would better invest our time in making the institutions in which we live move toward our vision of Beloved Community.

“We need to continue our advocacy, of course. But we also need to change what we can…where we live.”

— Rev. Bill Sinkford, “But Now We See”

Unitarians–and I include myself in this generalization–are susceptible to a kind of Gnosticism, a feeling of self-satisfaction, and even complacency, with being right, right knowledge, or having the correct information.

But I think what Sinkford says about Unitarians in the context of racism also applies more generally. I think it especially applies to the Doomer community. There is a self-satisfaction that comes with feeling that we are right about the inevitability of collapse, a satisfaction which can lead to complacency. There is a temptation to congratulate ourselves on seeing what others do not and then to go no further.

But it is not enough to be right. We must change things, even if we cannot avoid collapse. We must invest ourselves in creating the kind of resilient local communities that we want to be a part of and that have the best chance of surviving and thriving in a changed world.

Published by John Halstead

John Halstead is the author of *Another End of the World is Possible*, in which he explores what it would really mean for our relationship with the natural world if we were to admit that we are doomed. John is a native of the southern Laurentian bioregion and lives in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago. He is a co-founder of 350 Indiana-Calumet, which worked to organize resistance to the fossil fuel industry in the Region. John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.” He strives to live up to the challenge posed by the Statement through his writing and activism. John has written for numerous online platforms, including Patheos, Huffington Post, PrayWithYourFeet.org, and Gods & Radicals. He is Editor-at-Large of HumanisticPaganism.com. John also facilitates climate grief support groups climate grief support groups affiliated with the Good Grief Network.

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