by David Thomas, Right Relations Committee
What does that Right Relations Committee (RRC) do? This was exactly the question that I had when I was asked to join the committee in June. I was aware on a general level that this committee was dedicated to supporting the mission and principles that we have at UUCWC, in other words, about having a “right relationship” with ourselves, our church spiritual life, in a Beloved Community where everyone’s thoughts and feelings are honored. Even when, especially when, there is disagreement. We all know that listening to understand each other, and speaking our truth compassionately, is of utmost importance even when we have differences.
So how is this operationalized, step by step? A Mahatma Gandhi story comes to mind. A mother asked him to tell her young son not to eat sugar. Gandhi tells her to come back in 30 days. In 30 days she comes back and Gandhi tells the son not to eat sugar. The mother is confused. “Why could you not just tell him 30 days ago?,” she asks. He says, simply, “I had to stop eating sugar myself for 30 days.” Our RRC action starts with our own committee by having a covenant that supports our UUCWC mission, and living that covenant through talking and listening to each other through awkward misunderstandings or disagreements. We fumble through these times, with our covenant as the guard rail. We cannot provide a safe place for others to be vulnerable enough to air and hear disagreements if we cannot do it ourselves
The next step is taking our work to the UUCWC community. We are connecting with various groups in the church, the ministries, the committees, and the Board of Trustees, to talk about the importance of coordinating with each other, covenanting and living the covenant. As we are all imperfect human beings, there will be instances where a person or people feel unheard or aggrieved by what happens in their group, between groups, or with another person. We offer the RRC to be a mirror of your own core values and beliefs in the UU principles to aid you to find your own solutions to these conflicts.
Creating a safe place is of central importance in our work. We believe that each person has within themselves the tools to manage conflict; we are but reminders. Rough, edgy rocks rolling together in a river bed are changed by their contact with each other. Each changes shape from the friction. We change shape from learning how our actions affect others. And vice versa.
Total agreement is not necessarily the final goal; understanding, and respect for the other is another way the conflict is managed. Marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman found that in successful marriages, his version of right relationships, only about 30% of issues are resolved. The other 70% are managed through good faith listening, understanding, speaking one’s truth with consideration of the other.
We the RRC, composed of Clare Doyle, Bud Johnson, Michelle Hunt, Joe Schenk, Loren McAlister, and me, invite your contact regarding issues that administration, ministries, committees, classes, or individuals have regarding the importance of developing and living your covenants, and any conflicts that may be challenging for you to discuss.