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Indian Inspiration

 UU World July/August 2001 David Zucchino's cover story, "Transforming the Lives of India's Broken People" (July/August), deserves a Pulitzer Prize. Please convey my congratulations to Zucchino and to Kathy Sreedhar for such great work. As an admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and a Unitarian Universalist since 1976, I was really moved by this story.

Springfield, Illinois

Poverty and Land

David Zucchino's article about the people and programs in India supported by the UUA Holdeen India Program impressed and deeply moved me. The determined efforts of Ela Bhatt, Vivek Pandit, Martin Macwan and others to bring economic and political freedom to the oppressed there are heroic and inspirational. Kathy Sreedhar is to be commended for her wise investments of money, time, and energy.

The article confirms what I've come to believe, that all systematic oppression ultimately derives from unfair land policies. Poverty is the real problem, and land monopoly the cause. The solution is one Henry George proposed long ago — eliminating all taxes on labor, and collecting land-value rent for community purposes and to provide a form of guaranteed minimum income. I develop this argument fully in my recent book, Libertarian Party at Sea on Land (Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 2000; www.progress.org/books/).

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Unbroken People

As a Unitarian Universalist and a professor of anthropology, I have to express my dismay at the cover of the July/August issue.

I have studied and taught about India for over 30 years. I find the phrase "India's Broken People" extremely offensive. Several of my colleagues and students are equally offended. There are disheartened people in the world; there are oppressed people; there are poor people. But the people you describe are not broken.

In my many years of research in rural India, I have worked with numerous people who are extremely poor. But they also maintain a sense of self, a sense of humor, a love for family and children, a joy in song and dance, and a creative spirit found in folk art that is completely belied by the words on your cover. Note the wonderful tribal painting, also featured on the cover, that these so-called "broken people" have made.

Please, avoid this kind of Western intellectual domination that denigrates the lifeways and lives of other people. It smacks of all I thought Unitarian Universalism stood against, but instead find glaringly evident on the cover of your magazine.

Ford-Maxwell Professor of South Asian Studies
and Professor of Anthropology
Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York

Language can be empowering and emancipatory — or colonizing and patronizing. We chose our cover line because "broken people" is how dalits themselves often translate the word. Human Rights Watch, in Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's 'Untouchables,' published in 1999, states that dalit literally means "broken people" and is the term used by Indian human rights activists to refer to people formerly called "untouchables." Martin Macwan, the convener of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights in Gujarat, who was featured in David Zucchino's story, says: "The word dalit was coined by dalit activists and people in the movement for dalit liberation. It means 'oppressed people,' 'suppressed people,' and 'broken people.'" Macwan adds: "It is the sole right of the people in the dalit movement to create language and symbols that are dear to them." —The Eds.

U.S. Human Rights

In 1947, the United Nations — with the U.S. as a founding member — issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ("A New Realism for Human Rights," July/August). Article 25 of the Declaration states: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."

It is startling to think that the United States, with between 40 and 50 million citizens without health care coverage, may not be in compliance with this Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is time for Unitarian Universalist physicians, and our denomination, to put our moral force behind the effort to see that all of our citizens have health care.

Cooperstown, New York

Quaker Simpatico

As a Friend, I look forward to provocative articles like William Schulz's "A New Realism for Human Rights" (July/August). Friends could benefit from the "high octane" content of workshops at the UUA's General Assemblies and the vast resources of the UUA — and some elements of Quaker worship may prove salutary to more intellectual/verbal religious liberals. Why not break some fresh ground in religious unity? Why not hold the UUA's General Assembly and the Friends' General Conference simultaneously, sharing a common menu of workshops and action events to maximize the resources of both groups? The Pope went to Athens and Jerusalem. Can Friends leave Philadelphia and UUs, Boston, to meet on common ground, or do we lack the vision and will to break out into new paradigms?

Battle Creek, Michigan

Parable Off Target?

Is it just me, or is the July/August "Parable" by Daniel J. McClain nothing but a lesson in making fun of custodians and emotional spirituality? I found it offensive. I hope this is not what the editors of UU World think Unitarian Universalism is about.

Brooklyn, New York

Although it probably isn't just you, we recommend a second look. The targets of the parable's satire are the self-important luminaries, not the custodian. —The Eds.

Light Reading

May I humbly suggest that you rethink the wisdom of providing public space for Unitarian Universalist ministers to voice superficial opinions about books they are "currently reading — or planned to read" as inspiration for future sermons?

Case in point: Michael Leduc's comments about James Carroll's book, Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews: A History ("UU Bookshelf," July/August). The Rev. Leduc snipes, "The one thing I found distracting is that Carroll spends an awful lot of time apologizing for being Catholic and a Christian" — and then goes on to opine even more sarcastically that "maybe it's appropriate to be doing a mea culpa" since anti-Semitism in the Church is a major premise of the book.

My reading of this book does not reveal any "apology" for the author's being a Catholic Christian. On the contrary, sharing his history of deep introspective faith explains why he was compelled to research and write this important history of the origins and evolution of Jew-hatred after seeing the high wooden cross ("Constantine's sword") that stands today outside the wall marking the eastern limit of the main death camp at Auschwitz.

I hope Leduc gets around to reading all of Carroll's book. It truly broadens one's perspective on the history of evil in the name of religion.

Ellenton, Florida

Wright or Wrong

Michael Schuler's article on the architectural gem of a church in Madison, Wisconsin ("Looking Back," July/August), makes a historical error by stating that "Frank Lloyd Wright's contribution to Unitarianism includes another much-admired building, Unity Temple, completed in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1908." In actuality, Unity Temple was built as a Universalist church and remained so until the merger 40 years ago, when it became Unitarian Universalist. Our rich Universalist history deserves to be better known.

Raleigh, North Carolina

The mistake is ours, and not the author's. —The Eds.

What in the World!

Thank you for the UU World's new format. I am especially grateful to Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley for her insightful "What in the World?" column (July/August, page 71). Our congregation holds an evening discussion of each UU World issue as part of our ongoing Adult Enrichment and Growth program. Both the new format and the discussion questions have helped us delve deeper into Unitarian Universalist values and activities.

UU Church of the Palouse
Moscow, Idaho

UU World welcomes letters to the editor. Please address to "Letters," UU World, 25 Beacon St., Boston MA 02108, or e-mail us at world@uua.org. Include your name, address, and daytime phone number on all correspondence. Letters are edited for length and style; a maximum length of 200 words is suggested. We regret that we cannot publish or respond to all letters.

Our September/October coverage of the General Assembly incorrectly stated that there are three officers of the UUA ("Delegates Deliver a Mandate," page 35). Although there are three elected officers, the executive vice president, treasurer, and secretary are also officers of the Association. The Service of the Living Tradition was held Sunday morning, prior to the Ware Lecture, and not the next morning as reported on page 36. Also, the family name of donors Frank and Alice Schulman was misspelled in an article about the establishment of a chair in UU history at Meadville/Lombard ("Big Meadville gift," page 44).The Dana Greeley Award from the UU United Nations Office will honor a sermon or address about "the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all." Entries are due January 3.

UU World XV:5 (November/December 2001): 6-8.

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