As Unitarian Universalists we are confused about what a sound bite is. We think that a Unitarian Universalist sound bite must somehow explain everything about our faith. When in fact a sound bite is a piece of truth, not the whole truth. None of the sound bites that we hear about other religions explain the entirety of a faith. What we need is new good sound bites that are pithy, fun, joyful and short. Can you come up with a sound bite that speaks a piece of our truth?
Great leaders are great leaders not because they can tell you what they are doing or how they will do it but because they can tell you why they are doing it. – Simon Sinek
For far too long Unitarian Universalism has been using terrible sound bites. Here are some examples: “We are the people who can believe anything we want.” Or, “Unitarian Universalists, the people with the seven suggestions.” Or, “God’s frozen people.” Or, “When given a choice UUs would rather talk about heaven than go there.” You have all heard these as well as the jokes that we, and others, tell about us. We do this in an attempt to keep a sense of humor about ourselves. Don’t get me wrong; keeping a sense of humor is a good thing. We are the fun faith. However, it is also important that we, at least some of us, take the faith seriously. Who does that?
Rev. Peter Morales, our UUA President, is using a sound bite that I would like to mention here. “We are the faith beyond belief.” Unitarian Universalism -the faith beyond belief. Now that is good.
Rev. Susan Smith says, “There is no fundamentalism in Unitarian Universalism.” Provocative and true. I have had more push back from this statement than any of these others. Fundamentalism asserts that it is the one way, the one truth, and that is not Unitarian Universalism. I like to say, “We are the people of the many paths.” This is what makes us non-fundamentalists.
“We are the people of the promise and the struggle.” This one could be a Jewish sound bite. But it is also true for us. Our promise is our Covenant. Our struggle is to develop, become fully human, not to be stuck or mired forever in one stage but continually evolving – alive, awake, aware. Here is another, “We are the people who value loving justice and just loving.” Love and justice, two of the deepest values we uphold.
Our UUA has been using – “Standing on the side of love.” “Nurture your spirit, help heal the world.” Wonderful, meaningful and catchy.
These statements cut to the heart of who we are. These sound bites tell people why we have a passion for Unitarian Universalism and why it might be meaningful in their lives too. These sound bites are not the whole truth but they are each, a piece of our truth. If we are to be all that we can be, then we need to understand why. Why we are. Why we exist. Why is this faith different? Do we have a deep message that could feed the people and save the world? Can we make simple statements that say why and that also inspires others? Not because of, or for, ourselves but because of our core values and because those core values could help others to become all they could be.
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Written by Connie Goodbread, 2006-2010