Charleston, 9:05 p.m.

9:05 pm.

That is the time last Wednesday night when a racist decided to open fire in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church killing 9 people and shattering a community and a country.

This time has sat with me for days. Why you ask? It was exactly 9:05 when someone asked me what time it was as I sat in the office of my church for our weekly meeting to prepare to call a new minister to our congregation. While we were meeting and discussing important issues like potential compensation, being open to ministers who don’t look like us and learning from our interim minister about some potential pitfalls to try to avoid – a nightmare was unfolding in Charleston. And we had no idea.

I am a Unitarian Universalist. I have been an active member of this community since 2009 and the people and its principles have grown to be very important to me. I have also served in leadership roles in my congregation and we have discussed a lot of the what-ifs that happened in Charleston last week. You see, the UU demonination hasn’t been immune to this sort of violence and terror. One of our churches was attached in Knoxville, TN in 2008.  Never mind our members like James Reeb, who have worked for and died for freedom and equality for all people.

I could get incredibly political in this post, I shan’t. I urge you though to read about what happened, look at the way in which different parts of the media have covered this and other stories like this and I urge you to look in your own heart and soul to understand what happened last week.

I am a white woman who is a member of the middle class. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I had 2 parents who were deeply committed to my education and future. I am so incredibly aware of the fact that the only way that my life could have the potential to be better in the history of this planet is if I had been born a white man. Really, there’s only 1 box I can’t tick off on the luck of birth lottery. I’m so damn lucky. But I’m also deeply aware of the world in which I live.

I also know that there are some people in my position who are unable to see the gifts and privilege that has been given to them by nothing other than the luck of birth. There are people who look at others as different and therefore at fault for something missing in their own lives. There are many of us, perhaps all of us if we are being completely honest with ourselves, who do look at some people as “other”. Now, hopefully, when we catch ourselves doing this we can take a step back, realize that we thought about something in that way and readjust our thinking to understand that we are all the same.

We are all the same.

The human condition is utterly fascinating to me. But at the end of the day we all want the same things. We want love, we want acceptance, we want peace. The problems seem to pop up when we are confused about the best ways to make that happen.

Last week, a young man believed that the best way to make that happen was to kill others and start a race war. Read what the man said and wrote. He thought the best way to make his life better was to start a race war.

I am trying to have some softness in my heart for this man. I believe the justice system will deal with his punishment but I am trying to have a personal level of kindness for him. I don’t understand his thinking. I don’t understand his motivations. I don’t understand probably anything about him. But I also know at the end of the day – we were both born exactly the same. Sweet, innocent babies with a completely open future for both of us. I have chosen to live my life from a place of love and compassion. I don’t understand why he didn’t make the same choice but I know in my heart that the best way to combat those choices is to live the way that I do. Honoring those around us. Looking at the world with love and compassion. And understanding that we are all the same. When we begin to know that we are all the same, it becomes so much more difficult hate others because then we hate ourselves.

Amanda Lipnack

If you truly want to curl my toes, give me a chance to make a difference - for you, for the community, for the world.Few things make me happier than supporting the folks around me to be the best and happiest people they can be.This, of course, winds up taking on a multitude of flavors but generally comes through by being a good friend, a good coach and an excellent paint color picker.

I'm a single lady living in the suburbs of Philadelphia with 2 cats named Leo and Toby (after characters on "The West Wing" - one day I will have the ability to recite the entire series by heart.That's a noble goal, yes?).

I've had a varied career doing a bunch of technical stuff that isn't that interesting to folks who aren't doing it but my real passion is writing.I also get the fabulous pleasure of coaching people from time to time and that brings me amazing joy and energy.

If you want to hang with me there are things you should know:I curse.A lot.I like hoppy beer.A lot.I like big and deep red wines. A lot. I adore my friends.A lot, a lot.I am passionate about politics (or a big geek about them - you choose).I'm an accidental but rather passionate Unitarian and few things make me happier than my dining room table surrounded by people I love.And picking paint colors, let's not forget that. Find me online here.

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