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Responsibility For, Responsibility To

One of the chief values in being part of a community whether it be a church, a town, or a country, is a sense of responsibility as a member of that community.

But we are also individuals, not just cogs in a machine. We make our own decisions, determine for ourselves what we believe, and shape our own lives.

Like many things in life, there needs to be a dynamic tension between individuality and community. In our faith of Unitarian Universalism, this tension is seen by the "bookends" of our Seven Principles. The Seven Principles are a set of promises, a sacred "to-do list," that every UU congregation promises to the other UU congregations that they will work toward.

The First Principle is that we affirm and promote "The inherent worth and dignity of every person." The Seventh Principle is that we affirm and promote "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." To be a Unitarian Universalist community means to hold those in tension, honoring the divine value of each person, while understanding that our lives are blended together and we must take the overarching wellbeing of all into our decision-making.

My systems mentor, Ken Shuman, refers to these questions about individuality and community in a framework of "Responsibility For" and "Responsibility To."

I am responsible for myself. It is my responsibility to manage my own anxieties, self-regulate, and work on increasing my emotional maturity.

I am responsible to others. Because I am a member of a covenanted religious community, I am responsible to them, to share my time, talents, and treasure. As their minister, I have an additional set of responsibilities to them, chiefly, to care about their lives. To love them. I am not responsible for Live Oak, I am responsible to Live Oak.

I am responsible to the larger community I'm a part of. There are medical professionals, grocery workers, first responders, sanitation workers, and others who have taken on jobs that make them responsible to our larger community, which includes me. And so I am responsible to them, to limit the spread of coronavirus. I am responsible to them in other ways, too, to advocate for fair working conditions and wages.

I am responsible to humankind and that intersects with my responsibility for myself. Being responsible for myself means it is my responsibility to seek out the best scientific knowledge available and to keep up with what is happening in the world. Being responsible to humankind means not re-posting information that I haven't scrutinized for accuracy.

Because I am responsible to humankind, I am limiting my physical interactions with those outside my household, while increasing my social interactions online. Because I am responsible to humankind, I wear a mask if there's any chance I will be within 20 feet of someone outside my household. Because I am prioritizing decreasing the spread of coronavirus over my privacy concerns, I have downloaded the Novid App and will use it when I leave my house.

I am responsible for myself.
I am responsible to you.


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