Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills

Open minds, loving hearts, helping hands


I practiced the fifth principle today- have you?!

Author Sarah Ahrens, Written Nov 6, 2012

The fifth principle of Unitarian Universalism: “We affirm and promote the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.”  In other words, “we believe that all people should have a vote about the things that concern them.”

Despite my wife and I agreeing last night that we would vote this evening, I was too eager and excited this morning to wait the whole day to exercise the fifth principle of Unitarian Universalism that I went to vote at around 7 a.m.  I am very fortunate to have the voting location within walking distance of where I live and that the area is with power when much of New Jersey is still without power as recovery from Superstorm Sandy continues.

Some thoughts on this election day- I share them with you and invite you to consider and reflect on the questions for yourself.

  • Yet again I found myself reviewing the sample ballot at the last minute and quickly trying to learn more about candidates for Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the local Board of Education. The same goes for the ballot questions that I was woefully ill-informed of and sought input from those more knowledgeable of issues.
  • While election days of this magnitude happen every four years with mid-term elections happening in between- it makes me think about how I practice- or don’t practice- the fifth principle on a more regular basis.
  • How do Unitarian Universalist values as expressed through the seven principles inform my vote for elected officials and my position on issues on the town, county, state, and federal levels?
  • How do I reconcile my vote for a candidate if I am in agreement with the candidate’s position on certain issues but I am in disagreement on other issues?  How do I “weight” or prioritize issues- which ones are my “deal breakers” that I won’t compromise on?
  • What if two or more candidates share my values but express those values through different- perhaps even contrary policy positions?

In summary- I hope this election- and by writing this blog post- I will commit to a fuller embracing of what the fifth principle means and more actively practicing and participating in the democratic process in between the big elections.

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