By Pauline Benetti
Special to The PREVIEW
Some say of our liberal Unitarian Universalist (UU) religious tradition that it is a thin gruel, watered down to please everyone and require nothing of anyone, our seven principles general caveats to which everyone can nod in agreement. To the contrary, consider the second principle, which this Sunday’s service will grapple with: justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
As we honor our veterans on Veterans Day, is it really enough to say “thank you”? Or, are we bound by our second principle to see that they are treated with justice, equity and compassion? And what does that mean and how does that get done?
One very important way is through the office of our speaker this Sunday, Raymond Taylor, the veterans service officer for Archuleta County, who knows what it means and gets it done.
America has been involved in many military campaigns around the world: WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan to mention the major conflicts only. Our soldiers come home from these foreign lands, the fortunate to resume their pre-military lives, and the less fortunate to repair the injuries they received and try to recreate their lives. To help with this repair work is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). But as with many huge bureaucratic systems, receiving benefits for military service can be a daunting enterprise.
Taylor keeps our veterans informed of the benefits due them and then walks our veterans through the maze of bureaucracy to receive those benefits. In his office at the Ross Aragon Community Center and through his newspaper column in The SUN, Taylor acts as a clearing house for the latest information from the VA, as well as local information of use to veterans, including meetings of veterans’ groups and critically important phone numbers. And if a vet can’t make it to his office, Taylor makes a house call in his efforts to see that all receive what is due them.
Taylor comes from a long line of military service personnel and is himself a 20-year veteran of the Navy. He is a sixth-generation resident of the Pagosa area whose parents still ranch the homestead property on the Upper Piedra River. For the past six years, he has worked as Archuleta County’s veterans service officer. Join us as we learn how one man infuses a huge bureaucracy with justice, equity and compassion.
And for the rest of us dealing not with a huge bureaucracy but with our lives, how do we do that? First, we bring the principles into our lives by thinking this way: “Justice, equity and compassion in human relations, beginning in our home and fellowship,” as suggested by the Rev. Meg Barnhouse in her sermon, “Who says Unitarian Universalism’s principals are easy?”
Phrased this way, the opportunity for action is endless and the task demands much more than a perfunctory nod of the head. Thin gruel indeed — it’s hard work.
Know this about Pagosa UU Fellowship: we take the principles to heart; individually and as an organization we strive for “right relations” — though, perhaps, not always successfully. As a fellowship, we are a welcoming congregation, inviting everyone to share in our faith community. We cherish diversity and foster a safe environment for all.
Service begins at 10:30 a.m. and, following that, we invite you to join us for refreshments and conversation.
Find us in Unit B-15 of the Greenbriar Plaza. From North Pagosa Boulevard, turn right onto Park Avenue and right again into Greenbriar Plaza; then turn left and continue around the complex until you see the Unitarian Universalist sign as it faces the mountains. Come in and join us. You are welcome.
For further information, visit pagosauu.org or call 731-7900.
By Pauline Benetti