To Dare Everything – An 8th Principle Reflection Informed by James Baldwin

In “The Fire Next Time” James Baldwin warned his nephew:

“You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason.”

Today’s headlines reverberate with that observation. Because you are Black and for no other reason…you will be incarcerated in greater numbers…you will be killed by the police and civilians claiming to stand their ground…you can be limited to lesser jobs and rewards.

We should “affirm and promote” our seven principles. Yet, for me, affirmation is not enough. How can we affirm “inherent worth and dignity” when racism steals dignity from so many? How can we simply affirm the “the democratic process” while racism works to erode voting rights? How can we only affirm the “interdependent web of all existence” while waste seeps into Black and Indigenous communities?

The 8th Principle calls us to actions that “dismantle racism and other oppressions.” In 1962, James Baldwin identified what holds us back:

“To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. In this case, the danger, in the minds of most white Americans, is the loss of their identity.”

White superiority and white privilege are woven into our lives, our congregations, and our country. Acknowledging their presence is one step; affirming our Seven Principles another step; and acting to “dismantle racism and other oppressions” a vital third step in the process of fully living our values.

If you have questions about the 8th Principle, email: