Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 3

Leadership Series for Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 3: Explanations with Rev. Pat Bessey

Those of us who live in Maine know that fall is fair time. Last year was the exception to the rule as the pandemic shut down fair season. This year the fairs are happening. This past week was the Cumberland Fair, and this week is the Fryeburg Fair. Why am I telling you about the fairs it is because one of our members, Nancy Burnette won a first-place blue ribbon in the apple pie category at the Cumberland Fair. Congratulations Nancy… we have been blessed to benefit from your baking and hopefully sometime soon we can try that prize-winning recipe.

I began the talk on Sunday asking if you were familiar with the words cisgender and people-first language. Here are the definitions from Webster’s dictionary. Cisgender: of, relating to, or being a person, whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth. People-first language: People First Language (PFL) is a way of communicating that reflects knowledge and respect for people with disabilities by choosing words that recognize the person first and foremost as the primary reference and not his or her disability. You will see by the theme why I asked if you were familiar with those words.

The theme of the talk was “explanation” as I continue the series A New Peace Paradigm: Our Human Needs and The Tangles of Trauma based on the book of the same name by Paul K. Chappell. Paul says our need for explanation starts when we are very young, and it is as old as humanity itself.

Also, to take into consideration when accepting or rejecting an explanation says a lot about our worldview. Paul writes: Many people would rather die than lose their religion, which comprises a large part of their worldview. As John Steinbeck says in The Grapes of Wrath, “Human beings are the only species on the planet that will die for an idea.” We cannot understand our modern political and social problems unless we understand our human need for explanations and a worldview, because this basic need is behind so many of these problems.

Our worldview plays a major role in what we believe, and subsequently how we act and how we live our life.

I offered some questions to help inform you of your worldview. Here they are:

• Is there a power greater than you at work in your life?
• What does it mean to be human?
• Are all people inherently good?
• What is true?
• What is the point of all of this?
• Will justice for all prevail?

Paul offers this exercise for this week: You can work on building trust (part of nurturing relationships) by offering kindness, compassion, and attention when you offer an explanation; you can reflect on how inaccurate explanations can support injustice and more accurate explanations can resist injustice; and you can use explanations to call yourself and others to a higher purpose.

Next Sunday we will explore the fourth nonphysical need, “expression.”

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey


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