Being vs. Becoming

For many of us, becoming is always going to be a greater proportion than being. I’ll never have enough experience of life as myself, to have that settled, fixed sense.  “I think I’m always going to have this sense of being as something that constantly involves becoming. And I think that that’s really the glory of the human race. I don’t think anybody should write us off. We’re not done yet — Professor Joy Ladin

“Becoming is always going to be in a greater proportion than being.”  We so easily forget how much of our worlds are based on movement– the most solid thing in front of you– a rock, a table, is in fact made up of millions of buzzing particles.  Movement is at the very core of life, even when we cannot perceive movement.

Professor Joy Ladin has perhaps a less common experience of becoming– in her mid-40’s, she transitioned from male to female identity and was the first openly transgender professor at an Orthodox Jewish institution.   While transitioning a gender identity is not something most of us go through, I bet most of us can relate to the work of expressing our most authentic selves– and how our authenticity can feel restricted by cultural norms.   It wasn’t very long ago that gays and lesbians felt pressured to live closeted lives.  And as attitudes have continued liberalizing (in some ways), we are increasingly seeing people express their gender in different ways than earlier generations.   This growing freedom for individual expression is at the heart of our Unitarian-Universalist tradition, a tradition born because our religious ancestors believed that difference and individuality should and could be expressed in community.   I guess you could say “we welcome misfits.”

In a time when so many of our liberal values feel attacked or threatened, it is more important than ever to be clear about our values and how we want the world to become.  And then to do whatever our part to participate in that becoming.





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