Rev. Margaret Kirk immediately tapped a rich vein, questioning how tolerant we are of each other within our own little Unitarian communities, let alone of those beyond. Initially illustrating her theme she told three short stories encouraging empathy with others (“only when you can see the face of your brother or sister in that of a stranger can we profess that night has turned into day”).
Her address brought up the real challenge we face in our community; the fact that we don’t always agree. At this we excel. Having consulted the congregation as to what we felt epitomised Unitarianism, Margaret’s words made for uncomfortably accurate listening. We are a) a diverse, enigmatic, difficult, prickly herd who b) share a common purpose to seek an open space for supportive difference. However, without examining the former the latter is utterly without foundation, regardless of goodwill or intention. Silently observing the differences we see in one another is detrimental. Only if we are in dialogue will we pause from rushing to fill the space with our own ideas and beliefs.
It is painful. To share the space with those who’s beliefs are different to your own is spiritually, mentally and (perhaps most accurately) physically tough. But it is something we must do to grow, communally and individually and through it we get to know ourselves and each other better.