December Ethical Inspiration

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The start of winter…bare trees…dark evenings. This is the time of the year we need to remember the potential of rebirth. It helps us get to springtime. As a teacher, before becoming an Ethical Culture Leader, I sensed rebirth with each new group of students. They reminded me of passing time and future promise. In our 60th year at the Baltimore Ethical Society, I feel a sense of rebirth seeing more children visit our Sunday school.

This increase in visitors is greatly due to the warm, creative spirit of teacher Linda Joy Burke. She artistically weaves Ethical Culture values into interactive and enjoyable activities – very different from the rote memorization and stern lectures my generation remembers. Today we don’t treat children as rocks we carve into a single shape. We treat them more like seeds that have within them beauty waiting to grow.

It’s exciting to see how our Sunday school represents our commitment to “bring out the best in others and thus in ourselves.” The founder of Ethical Culture, Felix Adler had faith that the light within everyone can be brightened so that it shines out and encourages the light in others to shine brighter. He writes,
The simile that may be used is that of a ray of light which has the effect of kindling other rays, unlike but complementary to itself. Each ethical unit, each member of the infinite universe, is to be regarded as a center from which such a ray emanates, touching other centers, and awakening there the light intrinsic in them. (An Ethical Philosophy of Life, pp. 118-119)

There is light in everyone, children and adults alike. We need to remember this particularly during December and January. We need to remember the words of Albert Camus: “In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.”

For millenniums people have gathered for winter celebrations to call for a return of our most reliable source of light – the sun. Please join friends from the Coalition of Reason for “HumanLight,” a December 23 event where candles are lit and we celebrate a shared vision of “a future in which all people can identify with each other, behave with the highest moral standards, and work together toward a happy, just and peaceful world.” Let’s let the light of humanism shine this winter in Baltimore, in our society, and in our Sunday school!

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