Yesterday morning was our last day of intensive classes at Meadville Lombard Theological Schools for January. My Religious Humanism class was discussing pastoral issues and side-tracked into a dialogue on social justice issues. Now, if you are a Unitarian Universalist, you have almost certainly heard this conversation before. After 20 or so minutes of Wal-Mart bashing and opining for a living wage, I could stay silent no longer. With a quiver in my voice that this topic always arises, I expressed my exasperation with incremental thinking and the eternal hopefulness of Unitarian Universalists and the religious humanist manifestos that set forth visions without tangible blueprints for change.
As I hope my 'disillusion' postings reveal, I have evolved to the belief that we will never transform America into a just society through our current strategies of social action. Effecting the fundamental changes that are needed will require the creation of a large-scale model of an intentional community as a focal point for our vision of the future. Like Gandhi's ashram, we must establish a new type of society from the ashes of failed America, and not merely nail aluminum siding onto our termite ridden home.
So, what is this vision? Later in the day, I had to escape the class for a few minutes. So, I walked out into the Gothic stone sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church of Chicago. I have always loved Gothic stone structures. The power and majesty of that architecture evoked my image of a new 'Architecture of Life' that I propose. I will flesh this plan out in future postings, but the basic plan is that after a period of planning and fundraising, a significant block of property is bought in an urban area that has been destroyed by city policies of the past century. After leveling whatever building shells exist, we build a new community, with these attributes:
- 500-1,000 citizens, with as diverse a representation as possible;
- a community center with activity spaces and dining facilities;
- encouragement of all forms of entrepreneurial enterprises, as well as common community service expectations of all;
- 100% green architecture and sustainable lifestyle;
- schools that teach our vision of preparing children for modern living;
- assisted living for the elderly;
- basic health care provided for all; and
- cooperative consumption in all walks of products and goods.
Most important is a commitment to the elimination of the acquisition of private wealth and excessive materialism.
Of course, an enormous number of details exist to be addressed. The hope is that the vision will attract people of all talents and walks of life who will help iron out difficulties and support the developments of this community. So, if this idea interests you, maybe you can join in the planning and become part of the movement to rebuild and re-envision this nation and this world.