As we close in on the New Year, our thoughts turn to summing up 2019 and imagining what 2020 may bring. I have been listening on Audible to the ‘magically real,’ or ‘surreal’ novel by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Water Dancer. It a story of the very real and very god-awful conditions of slavery in antebellum Virginia, combined with supernatural powers of memory and “Conduction’ possessed by our hero Hiram Walker, who is the half-brother of the Master’s son. That word ‘conduction’ can’t help but put us in mind of the conductors of the Underground Railroad. This isn’t a spoiler, but eventually Hiram meets ‘Harriet Tubman,’ who also has the power of Conduction and it’s what Harriet says to Hiram that I really want to explore, and that is
“Hiram, have more faith in me than in your own failings.”
This is a message that pertains to our hopes for a new and better year in 2020. I am one of those who sometimes doubts I can overcome my history. I have had my share of successes, but I have had some titanic failures too, and those failures can cause one to lose faith in oneself. The Tubman character is saying we may succeed none the less, if we trust our mission, our belovéds, our communities.
At UUCE, we have set goals of keeping our Earth habitable, and instituting better ways–in John Lennon’s words—for ‘sharing all the world,’ ‘living life in peace,’ ‘living for today’ (not for an afterlife), ‘no need for greed or hunger,’ ‘nothing to kill or die for,’ ‘and no (bad) religion too.’
Let us not be downhearted if the goals are far from being reached. There are lots of others here and elsewhere committed to these values, and we all need to rely on others to make it happen. We can put our faith in the goodwill and strength of all those who form the one strong body that can deliver us, conduct us, to freedom, inside and out, and equity, happiness, fairness, and not least, realization of the good self that we are. We are charged by Harriet Tubman–who famously carried a pistol–to not let our failings and fears stop us from doing what we can. Erasmus urged us to ‘put on those wings that Plato says are caused to grow by the ardor of love,’ and that love is the love for everything–the entire Universe–but especially for all the living things.
I wish you a happy New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day, and a happier, safer new year in 2020 than we have had recently. May our coming year be one where there is better than 20-20 vision, and visioning.