My husband had this interesting conversation with our (at the time) six-year-old grandson. Husband: “Are you going fishing?” Grandson: “There are no fish in that lake.” My husband, puzzled, looking at the boats full of people fishing just offshore: “Why do you think there are no fish in the lake? Grandson, full of logic and self-assurance: “Well, I’m going swimming. And if there are fish they might come and poop on my leg, and I don’t want that. So there are no fish in that lake.” (Cue the sound of laughter being inhaled, so as not to insult a very certain six-year-old.)
What’s charming in a six-year-old is not so charming in an elected official: “I want our economy to thrive again, right now, so the pandemic will be over very soon…we’re making great progress…it’s going to be beautiful.” We can go ahead and laugh, but in fact, the consequences from ignoring the truth about the coronavirus will be quite dire for everyone from schoolchildren, teachers, and staff, to businesses who are truly struggling to keep their doors open, to front line workers…and everyone else in our interconnected world. Wishful thinking doesn’t magically change this reality. The virus doesn’t care how much power one person craves, or how bored and antsy the rest of us are at home (or how afraid we are out at work).
Unitarian Universalists place a high value on “the search for truth,” whether it’s the scientific gathering of data or the noticed and named reality of our own spiritual experience. We also understand that we actually aren’t able to find a whole, accurate truth totally on our own. Science is peer-reviewed because it’s way too easy to miss something crucial. This is also true when we’re in the middle of our own personal experience, and this is one reason we gather in spiritual community. We need each other’s honest perspectives at the times our own view is not wide enough to be accurate.
Some truth is really hard, such as the truth that it’s going to be a long time before we’re able to safely gather together in person. I had a really hard time as I began to admit to myself that I would not see family and friends in person this summer…or anytime soon after that. I had to acknowledge my sadness, lack of control, and fear of the unknown. It really helped that friends were there to hear me out and offer support.
The quest for truth requires maturity of us, which might begin with the ability to face and endure hard things and to be there for others as they do the same. Wishful thinking doesn’t ask much of us at all, and doesn’t produce much of lasting value either.
What truths are you facing this summer? Where do you find support and solace as you do hard things? Whatever is happening for you, I hope you know that you’re not alone. In this community, there is love and care, support and solace. It’s as close as a group or class, as near as a phone call, as we face hard truths and do hard things together.