The second smooth stone of liberal religion is that mutual consent, not coercion is how we should be in relationship with one another. Another way to say this is: We freely choose to be in relationship with each other.
If James Luther Adams were writing the five smooth stones of liberal religion today, I think the second is the one he would change. He wrote the second stone to remind liberal religionists of the power of free associations coming together and to warn against totalitarianism. Mutuality and respect are more important than ever, but the need to live more connected to one another through mutuality and respect is even less of an option than it was when Adams first wrote these principles down. Our understanding of the interconnectedness of life means we’re not free to not be in relationship to one another. When we fail to remember that, then we create social and environmental injustices – as simple as tossing away something we call “trash”. Since we're interconnected, what we're free to do is change the quality of those connections and make them better.
Free associations are precisely what we need now: associations that help us strengthen and remember our connections to the planet and to all the peoples upon it, to the cosmos and to our peculiar part in it. These connections can create change in little ways and in big ones. Look to Peacetxt in Chicago, growing up from several associations – Ceasefire, Ushahidi, FrontlineSMS:Medic, & PopTech – to invite anyone with a mobile phone to be part of a proven violence prevention program and change a community. Reducing shootings 41-73% and retaliatory killings by 100% in five communities is real and substantial change – arising from the power of choosing more meaningful relationships with one another.
Or you can see the power of reinforcing our connections with one another and the planet through the rapid development of 350.org Take a peek at some of the terrific things individuals connecting more deeply for a better future made in 2010
Scientifically, we don’t have a choice about being connected – related – to one another. But we’re still free to decide whether we’re going to choose to strengthen those connections for the betterment of our communities and our planet. Showing up, holding one another accountable, holding each other with love and humility, courage and caring changes the world, one action and one day at a time.
How are you choosing to be part of making the world a better place?