The Middle Way

11212678_1084430951586194_3752693199479671811_o#unitecloud has made just about everyone angry. The folks who reside on the left of the political spectrum are angry, calling our organization two-faced because one of our directors, Haji, Yussuf, personally endorsed a candidate that does not acknowledge or support their rights. They feel betrayed by his personal choice and they have now blamed the entire organization for Haji’s personal choice. (hold that thought)

#unitecloud has made folks on the right side of the political spectrum angry because they feel our organization has “slapped” one of our directors, Haji, for personally endorsing a candidate of his choice, as if #unitecloud is being two-faced and judgmental. (please keep reading)

Both sides of this spectrum have the same accusation: #unitecloud is two-faced and not to be trusted. I think this is worth exploring. Another thing worth exploring is the opposing side’s complaints.

Bur first, here are the indisputable truths as I see them. It’s very clear that there are legitimate feelings of betrayal. As an outspoken Ally who believes in equals right for everyone, I believe that people deserve legal protection from hate crimes. Notice I mention no candidate but purely share my personal belief. Looking back on the past two years of my work with #unitecloud, our actions demonstrate a record of advocating for our friends in the LGBTQ community, whether speaking out repeatedly against homophobia, attending events sponsored by this community, or lending support to those in need. The #unitecloud board has been pretty outspoken about this. So I ask those of you who are pissed: does one mistake by one person undo two years of good works by many people?

12439269_10101673984533931_2629471530778400496_nIt is also clear that there is widespread confusion between a person’s individual choice to support a candidate and the professional implications of that personal choice on an organization to which one belongs. What some don’t appear to understand or believe is that #unitecloud is not slapping Haji for his personal choice of a candidate. To those of you who say “It’s a free country:” you are right. However, what you seem to miss is our statement that when there is a conflict between a leader’s individual beliefs and the vision statement of an organization, the leaders of an organization must discuss it (as we did late into the night on 2 separate occasions). Also, non profit organizations (which #unitecloud is) are prohibited from endorsing any political candidate. That is the law. That is where #unitecloud has been put in a very difficult position because we believe everyone has a voice, those with whom we disagree, too, but we cannot do it at the expense of our legal obligations as a non-profit.

What EVERYONE does not seem to understand is that Haji’s apology came from HIM. #unitecloud did not demand a public apology nor threaten him with separation from our organization. It was his choice. He broadcast his apology live. From is heart. Haji felt he made a mistake by blurring the lines between his personal choice of a candidate and his affiliation with #unitecloud, a non-partisan organization.

If Haji is sincere in his apology and realizes his mistake, and that there was no intention to allude to #unitecloud’s support of this candidate, shouldn’t that suffice? Are we beyond forgiveness in this world? Isn’t the most important thing to see the actions that come after the apology?

14708149_1465728070123145_6644006650328977558_nI invite you to consider this: Have you ever made a mistake, apologized for it, and then continued to be verbally assaulted, have your friends and family be bullied for your mistake, held under a microscope, or been fired for that one mistake? I feel terrible if you have experienced this kind of treatment. Most of us act out of honest places. Most of us make mistakes, even big ones. Most of us apologize, and then focus on future actions demonstrate we get it.

I ask you to go back and read this whole thing again, especially the opposite side from your own. What similarities can you find? Can we come together on the ideas of the challenges of separating personality from professionalism? Can we come together and accept that a flawed human being made a mistake and that he has a genuine desire to make amends? Can we embrace the idea that one mistake does not erase the validity of a person’s goodness or destroy the legitimacy of an organization that has worked tirelessly for almost two years to bring the community together?

“The more we delve into the middle way the more deeply we come to rest between the play of opposites.” – Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart

In the middle we discover that the world is workable.

“Of course we can always imagine more perfect conditions, how it should be ideally, how everyone else should behave. It’s our task to see how it is, and to learn from the world as it is. For the awakening of the heart, conditions are always good enough.” – Jack Kornfield, Finding the Middle Way

“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.” – Jalaluddin Rumi, The Essential Rumi

middle-wayThe middle way does not negate right and wrong. It does not create wishy-washy, flip-flopping fish on the pavement. It is an invitation to leap beyond personal extremes, personal biases, and work toward a common goal that benefits as many as possible.

You are already sitting in the middle of it all, the paradox, the messiness, the hopes and fears. “Take your seat like a queen on the throne,” a teacher once said, “and allow the play of life, the joys and sorrows, the fears and confusions, the birth and death around you.

#unitecloud and its board members believe in free speech but not hate speech. You can look up the definition of hate speech easily enough. We know as individuals we each have varying views on issues in our community. As an Atheist my religious beliefs have no bearing on my work with #unitecloud. I am committed to help all people worship as they wish, or if they do not wish to worship at all. We are committed as an organization, to set personal agendas aside in favor of the organization’s work. If any person on the leadership team of #unitecloud (Haji, Natalie, or our board members: Hani, Lul, Sara, Laura, and myself) remains in conflict with our mission or vision, changes in personnel must be considered. In our view, one mistake by one person does not demand action of that nature at this time. Black and white thinking can guide many of our neighbors in their philosophies and personal interactions. #unitecloud seeks the Middle Way, and that can make polarized people angry.

#unitecloud seeks the Middle Way, and that can make polarized people angry. Click To Tweet

#unitecloud seeks to foster an empathetic community that chooses to stand up for one another regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, or socio-economic background. We believe that our commitment to this vision will lead to a sense of greater safety and hope and a decrease in fear and suspicion of those who are different from us.

About the Author

Catherine Verrilli

Catherine is the #unitecloud Advisory Board Chair. She is a professor of music at St. Cloud State University where she teaches Music in World Cultures, Music History, and Voice. As a singer she made her Carnegie Hall Debut in 2012 as a member of Trio Lorca. A native of Connecticut, Catherine has been married almost 30 years and is happiest the presence of animals. She and her husband moved to St. Cloud in 1999 from Washington, D.C.