I do hope that someone will sift through the reasonable and constructive reforms that are embedded on this blog along with the extreme and potentially destructive reforms being offered.
This concentration of negative complaints about the UUA staff, General Assembly, UUA social justice work, UUA Washington Office, etc is something that I've only observed in online forums and blogs. I haven't seen that in live face-to-face settings with Unitarian Universalists. This appears to be an internet-only phenomenon that isn't sustainable in non-internet settings.
I suspect that we're seeing a group of like-minded Unitarian Universalists forming an "echo chamber" online.
Wikipedia has a good explanation for the "echo chamber" metaphor:
Metaphorically, the term echo chamber can refer to any situation in which information or ideas are amplified by transmission inside an enclosed space.There's an object lesson about the dangers of overly aggressive reform for Unitarian Universalists in our denominational history. It can be found in the transition from Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) to Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) in the 1970s and 1980s. This history example comes to us from Lela Sinha:
For example, observers of journalism in the mass media describe an echo chamber effect in media discourse. One purveyor of information will make a claim, which many like-minded people then repeat, overhear, and repeat again (often in an exaggerated or otherwise distorted form) until most people assume that some extreme variation of the story is true.
The life and death of LRY has a lot to teach. Obviously, the clearest lessons are to those of us in the denomination, but other organizations may face similar problems.Bureaucratic or institutional memory is like plumbing, electricity, and other "infrastructures" that support organizations. The Unitarian Universalist Association is part of that infrastructure that many congregational leaders regularly use and depend on for congregational work. We expect it to be there ... something that we can always assume will be there. An overly aggressive restructuring of any organization can result in a fatal disruption of these resources.
Situation: One of the most unfortunate side effects of the vilification of LRY by the UUA was that the new youth organization (YRUU) ended up reinventing the wheel a lot. When LRY was dismantled, most of the experience and materials produced over its 30 year tenure were lost or stored in unlabeled, unsorted file drawers. It was a tragic waste of time and experience. In addition, YRUU youth are rarely encouraged to seek guidance from LRY alumni in their congregations. Every time a new group has gotten started, the youth have had to find training from nearby groups, the UUA, or their own instincts.
Lesson: Any person or organization which is undergoing radical and painful change will probably be tempted to walk away and not look back. Some people say goodbye like that. For organizations, the transition time is a time of grave vulnerability, so the organization has a definite interest in keeping the transition as short as possible. Unfortunately, as in the case of LRY and the UUA, that kind of abrupt change can cause grief and hard feelings that will ultimately make the transition-incurred weakness last much longer.
That temptation to walk away can also lead one to repeat history and reinvent the wheel. A "clean" cut often leaves a mess behind: lack of materials, experience, and institutional memory. If there are existing program materials, for example, they need not be lost simply because the entity which produced them has fallen from grace. For LRY and YRUU this would have meant keeping the publications and experienced alumni available for incoming youth; for a church this may mean keeping old hymnals; for a school with a problem teacher it could mean firing the teacher but teaching some of her popular and creative teaching techniques to other teachers.
And that is why I'm fearful about the overly aggressive UUA reform proposals.