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  • David Horst

The justice of compassion


A little compassion goes a long way toward justice. I think of this almost daily in my service and ministry to homeless and formerly homeless men and women at the Homeless Hospitality Center in New London, Connecticut.

I have preached, prayed, marched, and lobbied for justice throughout my ministerial career. Now my call for justice is expressed in compassionate things: Giving a homemade face mask, a couple of rolls of toilet paper, some deodorant and toothpaste, a package of food, a laundry voucher, and especially a phone or prepaid phone card to someone in need. I’ve seen in the faces of my homeless brothers and sisters how these tangible things advance justice as much as any other words and actions I can perform. Less tangible, but equally important, are the kind word and caring presence I bring.

Justice and compassion run through every aspect of Unitarian Universalist religious beliefs and social commitments, made explicit in the second Unitarian Universalist religious principle that affirms and promotes “justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.” Note, in these words, how justice and compassion are linked by equity, the principle of fairness and impartiality.

Compassionate things, words, and actions are all part of our justice work and vision. You, me, and everyone has opportunities every day to demonstrate our commitment to compassion and justice.

As we journey through the pandemic, may our compassion be ever more generous and our call for justice ever more wholehearted.


Photo: Van Saun County Park, Paramus, N.J.

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© 2020 by DAVID M. HORST