Every day, it happens: I have the awesome opportunity to achieve the First Principle in my UU faith. And every day I manage to rip it to shreds. It doesn’t matter how hard I try.
The truth is that there are just some real jerks out there in the world that really challenge me. Before I know it, I have spent energy within myself on anger, refusing an individual based on how I perceive him/her, and even the energy of forgetting one of the Principles I am called to uphold.
I am not a literalist in many ways. For instance, as one who was brought up in the Christian tradition, I do not read the Bible through a literal lens but rather through a literate or metaphorical lens. Therefore, I also treat my situation of messing up the opportunity to uphold First Principle not as a “better luck next time,” but more like I am not bound by it due to my humanness. Just as each of us are capable of being jerks (and I’ll admit I have been one before), so too are each of us capable of rising to the occasion of accomplishing First Principle.
One of my favorite UU Apps, called Illuminations, has a section where it lists all 7 principles of our faith in short form. All I have to do is whip my phone out, pull up the app, go to the principles – and right there: “Each person is important.”
How simple is that? Apparently not simple enough. The truth is that our humanness gets in the way and builds a barrier between ourselves and the rest of the world. We fall prey to stress, forgetfulness, the day to day tasks, and even the mundane, which all comes at a cost.
Each person is important. Each person is part of the First Principle:
the homeless person
the conservative zealot
the radical preacher on the street corner
the woman living on food stamps
the wealthy man in his shiny, new BMW.
And so I ask myself, “Who are they to me?” Strangers? Friends? Nobodies? I will tell you who they are. All of these are Principle People.