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Rev. Vicky's Message March 16, 2023

Last weekend I attended (along with MaryAnn and Sue, representing

our Leadership Council) a Unity West Central Region Key Leader

Training on Learning to Express Oneness in the World.

The Saturday portion of the training was focused on understanding

and living true inclusivity in our spiritual communities and our

personal lives which, among other things, involves learning to

courageously live with a level of discomfort as we learn how to more

fully open ourselves to hearing and honoring the diverse stories of

people whose life-experiences are significantly different from ours.

Our Leadership Council will be exploring how the insights we gained

might inform our UMB community’s intentions, policies and practices

around inclusivity. (We will also be sharing our relevant thoughts and

proposals with our larger community, as we proceed.)

In the meantime, I came across this relevant opinion piece in the

Washington Post that I found thoughtful and inspiring. I hope you do

as well.

Washington Post Opinion: A son kneels for the anthem. A father

raises the flag. Both are patriots. By Theodore R. Johnson,

Contributing Columnist, March 8, 2023.

One morning many years ago, my young son wondered why our car

was idling in the middle of the road. “What’s wrong?” he asked from

the back seat. We were on a military base, and everyone had

stopped. I caught his eyes in the rearview mirror, just beyond the

gold oak leaves on my uniform. “Nothing’s wrong," I answered. "The

national anthem is playing.” He looked out the window, furrowed his

brow, and nodded once his ear caught the familiar melody.

Now a teenager, my son wore his own uniform of jersey and pads at

a recent high school football game. While I stood at attention in the

stadium bleachers, he knelt on the field as the anthem played.

As many athletes and others had done for years, he took a knee

during the anthem to protest police brutality, especially against Black

Americans. And as a dreadlocked Black teen coming into his own,

his decision to kneel was as personal as it was political.

From the next section of bleachers, I heard scoffs coming from a

man who was nudging his wife and motioning toward my son. The

couple shook their heads in annoyance. Their faces dripped with a

holier-than-thou animus. Then, as the anthem concluded and the

players huddled for their pregame ritual, the team’s American flag

tumbled from its bracket on the sideline fence and fell on the ground.

My military training kicked in, and I bounded down the bleachers to

repost it.

The same man who had sneered at my son stepped into the aisle as

I climbed back to my seat. “Appreciate you doing that for us, for

respecting the flag,” he said. He couldn’t have known the parental

fire burning in me over the hateful looks he had shot at my child.

Another part of me was indignant: What did he mean by “us”? It

wasn’t clear that “us” included me; indeed, his demeanor suggested

that my action was more a service rendered to him and his family,

rather than something we all shared — my son included. I kept my

cool, sidestepped him with a nod, and focused on enjoying the


This moment of Americana stays with me because it’s symbolic of

how uncomfortable we are as a society when pride coexists

alongside reckoning.


Rev. Vicky


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