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30 Days of Love: 5/30

Posted by Deborah Neisel-Sanders // January 23rd 2013 // soundings, Stories and Voices // no comments

If I listed all the folks I think deserve a Courageous Love Award, it’d be a pretty long list. But what do they all have in common?

They all have chosen to remain in situations or communities that aren’t “done yet” – that are steeped in power and privilege, that have learning and growing to do, and that sometimes hurt others because of it.  They stay and work to make things better, without anger, acrimony, frustration or self-righteousness – even though no one would fault them for having it.  They quietly and determinedly do the hard work of justice and change within these flawed communities even when those communities hurt them personally.  I am in awe of those who can do such close-up, personal work while repeatedly choosing words and feelings that are loving and gentle and kind, not sharp and angry and judging.

In honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day, my friend Alex (the recipient of one of my personal Courageous Love Awards!) spoke of the Sanskrit concept of “ahimsa” – the electric power that not only supports all life, but that connects us all – the theological root of King’s non-violent protests.  It goes way beyond non-violence – it’s truly radical love, in everything you do.  It seems like it would be less effective, but it’s actually moreso – supportive and powerful beyond belief.

As someone who cut her teeth on “Act Up” activism, I have to confess I’m not well-versed in this style of justice work.  I’m much more familiar with the hostile, yelling, critical kind.  But employing this new style of justice work is a great “spiritual workout” – a chance to grow my ability to see and accept people as they are while at the same time encouraging growth and change.  It’s very personal and local, like most great justice work.  As a Unitarian Universalist, it’s a very valuable skill to be able to work with a pluralistic group of people, all believing something a bit different than you, in a way that is constructive and uplifting.

A hug can transform so much more than a punch can.  A gentle, personal word is heard more easily than a shout.  Let’s challenge ourselves to not only do radical work toward a radical ideal, but to do so in a radical way – with “ahimsa” – with love.

January 23, 2013. Honor Courageous Love.

Daily Action:

Make a commitment to honor courageous love in your community. You can present an award to your honoree on behalf of your congregation, send a special “courageous love” Valentine, or even write a letter to the editor lifting up your honoree’s contribution to the community! You can also add your honoree’s story to the SSL online courageous love map.

Action for Families:

Help your child think of someone you know who works to make the world a better place. Make a thank-you card and mail it together.

– Courageous Love information page
– Courageous Love certificate template (PDF)
Suggestions for Courageous Love Award Programs (PDF)



About the Author

Deborah Neisel-Sanders is the Office Administrator for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. She can be reached at dsanders@uua.org.
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