Our Struggle and Our Power

Erika A. Hewitt
November 9 2022

By Erika A. Hewitt

Content warning: racism

“So much has been destroyed I have to cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.”

—Adrienne Rich, “Natural Resources”

“I don’t know who to vote for,” the woman said over the phone. “My daughter told me not to vote for what’s his name, who wants to let the Mexicans into Maine.”

Thanks to the hours I’d spent phone banking and doorknocking, I was prepared for anything, including my neighbor’s racism. As I pitched my candidate again, she interrupted: “Honey, it’s all too confusing for me. I’m just going to pray. I trust God to elect the right man.”

This happened a couple of election cycles ago, but it saddens me every time people use God as an out: a denial of our human agency. If you tell me that God exerts sovereign power over our free will and even our democratic elections, it sounds a lot like absolving yourself of our shared responsibility to shape the world we live in.

How grateful I am for a faith, rooted in our connective power, that draws urgent human connections between what we do in church, what we do in the voting booth, and all other ways we claim our life-giving capacities.

Unitarian Universalists have taught me about naming our human role in systemic failures; how—through both action and silence—we participate in oppression, in harm, in evil. (Legislation, banking practices, and media campaigns targeting the marginalized, for example, are all written and endorsed by our neighbors, our communities, and sometimes ourselves.) Holding each other accountable for that harm is one way we fulfill our sacred responsibility.

In our most glorious capacity, I believe, we're vessels for each other’s healing and liberation. We're here to empower one another, even as those of us with greater privilege are called to show up, as adrienne maree brown puts it, for those furthest from power.

That's why, of all the things "faith" can mean, to me it means believing in usto repair, to connect, to hold one another up as we carry The Whole forward. There’s no God that will rescue us; no magical thinking that will restore the world or “manifest” it in the universe. I cast my lot with you; with us; with all that’s possible through no extraordinary power but our own.

Prayer

May we never give up on one another. May we rise to what we're capable of, and all that we're called to be. May we rise, together.