Every year at General Assembly–the annual business meeting for the Unitarian Universalist Association–one of the highlights is always the Ware lecture. This year was no different.
The Ware Lecture began in 1920 in order to give Unitarians (now Unitarian Universalists) an opportunity to hear the prophetic voices of the day. Over the past 88 years, such voices as Jane Addams, Dr. Linus Pauling, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Kurt Vonnegut, and Mary Oliver have been heard from the Ware Lecture stage.
This year, we had the privilege to hear Van Jones, founder of several environmental and racial justice Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Mr. Jones is one of the preeminent minds in the field of environmental justice.
By focusing on environmental issues with the frame of racial and economic justice, Mr. Jones showed how we are currently living in an era of “eco-aparthied” not just in the world, but also in the United States. In other words, the people who are hardest hit by environmental degradation are the poorest in our nation and are often people of color. Mr. Jones speech last night laid his plan for a deep greening of the United States Economy.
Mr. Jones began his speech by noting that progressive Americans have become very good at protesting. But we are on the verge of screwing everything up, by succeeding. Many would agree that we are currently experiencing a cultural sea change in the United States, away from the neo-conservative/neo-liberal practices of the previous Administration, toward a culture of change and love.
But he told us we are not ready to lead. To be able to lead, we need a bold agenda and a full rejection of a policy of death and destruction.
He then gave his inspiring agenda to pull our economy out of a recession, end global warming and give millions of poor and under represented Americans a step out of poverty.
The speech was extremely moving and elicited a five minute standing ovation from the packed assembly hall.
After the lecture, the General Assembly was buzzing with excitement and energy. Van Jones had inspired us to move to a new compassionate economy.
To hear Mr. Jone’s Ware Lecture- “Prepare to Govern”, and other highlights from the 2008 General Assembly in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, please visit uua.org