This week, during the gathering of our spirituality and anti-racism group meeting (Beloved Conversations), we talked about the concept of microaggressions. Microaggressions refer to the constant and continuing everyday reality of slights, insults, invalidations, and
indignities experienced by folks with marginalized identities and/or experiences. The Beloved Conversations program asks us to focus specifically on racism, but it also highlights the ways so many of us get hurt when a part of who we are gets denied or slighted by ‘dominant culture.’ Maybe it’s ageism, sexism, able-ism, classism, being single….comments are made, often with good intentions, that somehow dehumanize another. It’s death by a thousand papercuts.
For me, church is about deepening and growing our awareness. Not to be perfect or perfectly politically correct, but to minimize the harm we both experience and that we often, unintentionally, do to others. All of these “papercuts” diminish our ability to respond to life with an open heart. I think at church, what we are striving to be is a place where we don’t experience so many papercuts, where fewer and fewer people feel dehumanized. In the words of UU theologian James Luther Adams, our religion is a place where we actually “practice what it means to be human,” perfectly imperfectly.