Self definition is the key for gender and for sexual orientation alike. Being labelled by others can be oppressive, finding and proclaiming your own name for your specific difference (I say name here not label) can be a powerful and affirming experience. Even wearing a t-shirt saying Weird-o (as is illustrated on our programme today) could be that! It also means that people who are able to announce themselves as Lesbian or Gay or Bisexual or indeed as Asexual, or as a different gender than expected, can find support from their peers. I proclaimed myself lesbian in 1972 and my community changed and affirmed me as well as allowing me to meet partners. When we choose our own labels we are more able to find that support, and it is sweet.Read More
Loving is caring deeply for another’s happiness and well-being so much that you are delighted at their happiness and sad yourself at their disappointments and sorrows. To love in this way involves a profound form of acceptance - a willingness to accept a person for who they are at any particular point in time. This means striving for a compassionate understanding of who what they are going through and why they do what they do. It means a readiness to forgive.Read More
In 1948, Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues published 'Sexual Behavior in the Human Male' and then, five years later, published 'Sexual Behavior in the Human Female'. There was immediate shock and outrage. Kinsey suggested rather than three categories of sexual orientation, there are six.
A continuum is a very beautiful thing. Were we to accept this, life might be a bit more confusing but we would all be so much freer. The possibility for relationships and for love would become unencumbered by the pressure of categories and communities. We could be more ourselves - we could be more vulnerable with one another - we could open our hearts.
We could let our true colours come shining through.Read More
Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day. It is a commemoration that was established to remember the horrors of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. We have days like Holocaust Memorial Day to remember and honour the victims, but - more importantly - we set aside times like this so we will not forget the dangers of human cruelty. We stop to remember and study so we can understand better what happened and how we can learn from it. By doing so, we hope that we can prevent such nightmares from taking place again.
If this world is ever to make ‘never again’ more than an empty vow, we need to understand and accept the unwelcome flaws in our nature. The reality is that we are wired to embrace and idealise our own group and to reject and dehumanise others. We are susceptible to simple tools that take advantage of our inherent tendencies - tools like labels and propaganda. And so, if we are to prevent such great horrors and the smaller everyday divisions, we need to recognise the tools of dehumanisation for what they are and raise the alarm early and loudly.Read More
There is no quick solution to the limiting and life-destroying aspects of class bias. It is too deeply entwined in our society and in our own thinking. And yet, each of us, and a community like this one, has an opportunity to do something. It begins simply enough by noticing our first impressions.
We each have slower, more determined, more value-based ways of thinking - ways that are more aligned with who we really want to be and the world we really want to live in. And so, the simplest thing we can do is to judge slowly. Judge thoughtfully. Allow the depth of each person to emerge and overcome the instantaneous label-driven judgement. Look beyond the labels. You might just change lives for the better - including the richness of your own.Read More
The word ‘label’ sounds like superficial thing - a tag that is easy to remove and replace with one that fits better. But our labels go deep. They shape us to fit them. An important answer to the question of how we can deal with our labels and the identities that confine us is community. Radically-inclusive community. A community where we are accepted and loved as we are - a community where others feel joy as we change and offer encouragement rather than condemnation.Read More
Labels can help relationships form when they lead us to conclude that someone is like us. They can prevent relationships when we use them to assume that someone else is too different to approach - when we assume that my label and your label don’t fit. I want New Unity to be always a place where we do the hard work of seeing past the labels people wear - knowing each other for who we really are, rather than how we have been categorized by ourselves or by others. Paradoxically, our labels can help us see past our labels. The labels can be the beginning of conversations rather than the end of one.Read More
Many of us are following paths that have come down to us from family or culture or community. Our heads are filled with desires shaped by what we are supposed to want. So you need to ask what you really really really want. Once you can answer that question, you'll gain a better understanding of yourself and your choices, leading you in the right direction toward your heart’s desire.Read More
As a king, Jesus was a disappointment. He did not overthrow the empire or bring freedom to his people. And yet, the teachings that emerged from an ancient upwelling of hope, speak to us powerfully today. In our world, where a few wealthy individuals can have as much as half of the population of a whole nation, we live the message of justice and equality. In our world, where we distance and isolate ourselves and demonise others on social media and the voting booth, we must live the message of love. This Christmas, let us remember the teachings of freedom - that above all else - we must love one another.Read More
When the wrapping paper is gone, the decorations packed away for another year, and the gifts have begun to lose their sparkle, may the best of this season stay with you: the spirit of care and generosity and patience. Small things can make a big difference. Your kindness matters.Read More
There have been psychological studies suggesting that babies have an inborn instinct towards helping others. That’s great news. But I don’t think it’s great news for babies or even children. I believe it’s great news for all humans. I don’t think children are often good, inspiring or kind because they are children. I think they are good, inspiring and kind because they are human. If children can be kind, so can you. If children can be generous, so can you. If children can be wonderful, so can you. Be more like a child – by which I mean, be more fully human.Read More
The challenge of the movement toward increasing freedom is a deep one. We are the same animals we were when we lived in tribes, competed for dominance within those tribes and fought against neighbouring tribes. Our culture has changed but our brains have not. We still struggle against the unusual, the unfamiliar, and anything that conflicts with the norms with which we have been raised. The direction in which we are moving is the right one. Inclusion, acceptance, and equalising opportunities are the qualities that are essential for a more peaceful, just world - and perhaps for the survival of our species.Read More
Some things can be changed - just not quickly. What is needed then is a different kind of patience: strategic patience.
Because I can’t change something now does not mean I can’t change it tomorrow. Because I can’t change it now does not mean that we can’t change it if we join forces. It does not mean that there is nothing at all we can do. We can change almost anything given enough passion, and resources, and time. The need for time is where patience comes in.Read More
At a time when our society has become very secular, it is easy to assume that religion has less to teach us than other sources of inspiration, such as poetry, literature, art, and philosophy. And yet, despite the qualities of religions that make us describe ourselves as non-religious, religions that have stood the test of time have nuggets of great wisdom within them. A day for excavating wisdom and inspiration from traditional religion.Read More
War is seen as glorious and horrible, noble and demeaning, and the combatants alternatively brave, cowardly, and inhuman. Peace is longed for but quickly abandoned when anger and conflict intervene. What can we learn about ourselves and our societies from our deeply conflicted view of war and peace? Where’s the inspiration for how we live today?
It is extremely tempting to try to humiliate your opponents in a dispute and decimate their arguments. Sometimes we might even succeed in doing that. Usually, we don’t. We just make both sides angrier and angrier so that the next engagement is even nastier and more brutal. And if we should succeed in winning through verbal and physical violence? What then? We may win the battle, but we create angry, vindictive enemies for life and sometimes for generations.Read More
As I walked with my dog the other day, I had thoughts of today’s message in my head. I thought - just as an experiment - what if I imagine that all the plants I passed by had consciousness. What if each of them thought and felt and mattered as much as humans do - or at least as much as my beloved dog does?Read More
Our weekly Sunday Gathering is a chance to meet other New Unity members, to be uplifted by the message, to share joys and sorrows, to feel togetherness. This week we welcome guest speaker Stephen Reid. Psychedelics (from the Greek psyche: mind, delos: make visible, reveal) are substances that induce an altered state of consciousness sometimes compared to a 'waking dream'. The best known psychedelics are psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms), DMT (found in ayahuasca), mescaline (found in peyote and San Pedro cacti) and LSD.Read More
Earth, rain, and sunlight combine to create beauty around us and foods that can sustain our lives. Imagine what a wonder and mystery this was to the ancients. Their response was an outpouring of gratitude, such as at the festival of Sukkot. How plants grow and fruit is no longer a true mystery to us. What have we lost when we take the wonders of the natural world for granted? This Sunday is a day to reconnect with the inspiration, awe and gratitude engendered by the natural world.Read More
This Sunday falls just after the Jewish Day of Atonement - Yom Kippur - which is a time when Jews look back over the previous year and admit where they have failed to be the people they wanted to be. The Sunday Gathering will be an opportunity to explore the power of admitting our wrongdoing, apologising, making amends, and restoring relationship.Read More