“Service is the rent you pay for the privilege of living on the earth.”
– Shirley Chisholm, African-American feminist and first woman to run for president
Well, the old year is over, and it was a bumpy ride. We endured Covid and the vaccine and mask wars, hyperpartisan politics have reached a distressing new level, voting rights and reproductive rights are under attack again, there’s no agreement on what history should be taught to children regarding indigenous people and African Americans, and the environment continues to fester.
But not all things were bleak in 2021. Real challenges were made to police to change the way they operate, the perpetrators were convicted of the deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, minimum wages went up in many states and union organizing is on the rise. President Biden returned our country to the Paris Accords, and hearings on the Jan 6th insurrection will shortly take place in Washington, which will surely challenge our already-fraying democracy.
But we UU’s are both optimists and activists at heart and we are preparing with renewed vigor for the days ahead.
Side With Love is the social justice arm of the Unitarian Universalist Association, with local, statewide, National and even international projects.
Our church’s Side With Love Task Force, led ably by Evan Wilson and Mara Pentlarge, has had a busy year, working on priority issues of environmental justice, racism and white supremacy, and the restriction of voting rights in many areas. To this end, we have sponsored movies, readings and discussions for the whole church community so we can evolve with updated information and strategies for organizing.
Beth Posner-Waldron and Ruth Silver took the lead in working with UU the Vote and other voting rights organizations, and we called, texted and wrote to thousands of poor voters to encourage them to vote. Research has shown that this kind of personal messaging has proven effective.
Some members have attended vigils and rallies for various causes, participated in lobbying legislators on Beacon Hill to pass critical bills, while others continue with activism for other causes. Some members have stood on the picket line in solidarity with the St. Vincent nurses.
Evan and Mara have been involved with other UU Central Mass churches investigating the wisdom of possibly adding an eighth principle to our congregations, prioritizing the need to address racism and white privilege in all its forms, currently and historically.
Those of us on the Side With Love Task Force at our church are a small but mighty, committed and inquisitive group of folks. A unique feature of our gatherings is that, in addition to our critical political work, we also offer emotional support to each other, a comforting presence in these isolating Covid times. So, if the idea of doing social justice work in the New Year is appealing to you, please come join us.! We meet the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month from 6:30 to 8 pm.
If your complex life and demands on your time don’t allow you to commit to coming to meetings, why not get involved with our new Social Justice Action -of -the – Month Club?! (If there can be a book of the month club and a wine and cheese of the month club, why not a Social Justice action of the month club?!
And it’s easy to be involved. UU Mass Action sends out a monthly list of justice issues which need attention, and many of them are not time-heavy. It might involve a 5 minute call to your legislator, an online petition or important read for you to know about, or a lobbying day in person or online. Lots of opportunities exist!
Side With Love Will make these UU Mass Action items available in our Message each month.
I would ask you to consider the times we are living in and see if you can make a resolution for at least a once a month commitment to a social justice issue.
So, be part of the conversation during this critical year. Help safeguard democracy!!
“Don’t agonize! Organize!!”
– Flo Kennedy, Black feminist and activist
Joan McGinn, Member, Side With Love Task Force
Evan Wilson, co-facilitator
Mara Pentlarge, co-facilitator
Members: Susan Crossley, Lynn Gostyla, David Williams, Ruth Silver, Beth Posner-Waldron, Peg Daily, Marilyn Martin, Kim McCoy, and June Ganley