This month our ministry theme is Truth & Lies. In today’s culture, in which gaslighting and numerous logical fallacies are used to harm and divide people at an alarming rate, this is one of the most important themes we as a community can think about and engage. Towards that end, I want to share with you a story shared online by Ria Megnin:
One of my friends told me about a powerful lesson in her daughter’s high school class this winter. They’re learning about the Salem Witch Trials, and their teacher told them they were going to play a game.
“I’m going to come around and whisper to each of you whether you’re a witch or a normal person. Your goal is to build the largest group possible that does NOT have a witch in it. At the end, any group found to include a witch gets a failing grade.”
The teens dove into grilling each other. One fairly large group formed, but most of the students broke into small, exclusive groups, turning away anyone they thought gave off even a hint of guilt.
“Okay,” the teacher said. “You’ve got your groups. Time to find out which ones fail. All witches, please raise your hands.”
No one raised a hand.
The kids were confused and told him he’d messed up the game.
“Did I? Was anyone in Salem an actual witch? Or did everyone just believe what they’d been told?”
And that is how you teach kids how easy it is to divide a community.
Keep being welcoming, beautiful people. Shunning, scapegoating and dividing destroy far more than they protect. We’re all in this together.
How do we as a congregation live in to our desire to be a welcoming community while also upholding our shared values? How do each of us, at the personal level, work to go deeper than the surface level impressions we get every single day? How do we widen our circle of inclusion to help heal the world while also keeping healthy boundaries around toxic behaviors?
There are no easy answers, and in fact, in a living tradition such as ours, the answer should also keep shifting in order to be responsive to the community’s needs at any given time. What I do know, however, is that I couldn’t be among a better group of people than you to figure this out as we move together along life’s paths.
In gratitude and faith,