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Human Spirit Warrants Hope
Media Organization:Huntsville Times
Date of Publication:Friday, April 20, 2012
UUSC President William Schulz to address Unitarians about 'Immigration as a Moral Issue'
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — The Rev. Dr. William Schulz, former director of Amnesty International USA from 1994 to 2006, has seen the worst human beings can do to each other — and the best.
"I see reason for hope in the long arc of human history," said Schulz, who will speak in Huntsville Saturday, April 21, 2012, at 9:30 a.m.
His will be the keynote address of the Mid-south District meeting of Unitarian Universalists, the denomination in which he is an ordained minister. The theme of this year's conference is "Immigration as a Moral Issue."
The meeting will be held at Weatherly Heights Baptist Church, on Cannstatt Drive behind the Southeast YMCA on Weatherly Road. Schulz's talk is open to the public.
"I still retain hope for the future because of the human spirit," Schulz said.
Even given recent vitriol in the U.S. in general and Alabama in particular over issues such as race, torture, immigration, health care and religious diversity, Schulz points to the progress in the world when it comes to issues such as human rights and community diversity in the 35 years he has been an ordained minister.
"In 1975, only about one-third of the world's countries were democracies; now it's about 60 percent," Schulz said Wednesday from his office in Boston at the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, where he has been president since 2010. "And the world is more attune to the crimes committed by sovereign leaders."
In 1975, he said, something like the recent military coup in Mali that sought to overturn a democratic government there might have been ignored. Instead, outcry from other African leaders and leaders and people throughout the world helped avert the establishment of a military government.
For Unitarians especially, whose first principle affirms the worth and dignity of each human being, but for people of every faith, "justice and religion can never part hands," Schulz said. And his talk, although directed at Unitarian Universalists, will offer a message any person of faith could appreciate.
"I do believe that people of faith, of any faith, want to believe that human history has the possibility of redemption," Schulz said. "I hope people will leave the meeting revived in that conviction."
Schulz is the author of several books, including "In Our Own Best Interest: How defending human rights benefits us all," and editor of "Ruin of Human Rights: The Phenomenon of Torture."
The UUSC, an independent and non-sectarian human rights committee, was founded by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in 1940 as Unitarians sought ways to help the refugees fleeing the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia.
That legacy of the UUSC underscores the importance of remembering how categories of people, including Jews, Gypsies, political prisoners, homosexuals and the mentally ill, were singled out for discrimination and then detention, torture and death during World War II.
Schulz's talk Saturday comes a day ahead of the annual Huntsville observance of Yom HaShoah, which will be Sunday, 2 p.m., in the Loretta Spencer Hall of the Huntsville Museum of Art.