Language is important. The way we describe reality is important. It is important to be clear what we mean by "we" and what we mean by "them." I remember as a kid whenever any of us would say, "I wish they could fix that" (or do some other thing); oftentimes my parents would reply by saying, "We are they." They were calling us to be responsible and to accept our role in the family and our role in society. Rather than blaming others, we were being taught to claim our responsibility and our power to make a difference.

I notice that much of the language (some of it angry language) about the Annual Conference, General Conference, and the whole UMC divides into language about "us and them" or "we and they." Our actual structure is that the Indiana Conference is ALL OF US – it is both a structure for ministry in the state of Indiana and an annual gathering of clergy and lay members from all of the UM congregations of the state of Indiana. So when "the conference" makes a decision, it is a representative democracy, it is all of us making a decision for all of us. We are the ones making that decision, not "they" are making those decisions.

In the same way, the General Conference is not "them" – it is composed of elected representative delegates from all of the Conferences of the UMC around the world. It is easy to sit back and to blame "them" for their decisions, but they are also "we" at least in terms of being our elected representatives.

Now, like any other representative gathering, some of those decisions may not be ones with which I personally agree. But part of belonging to a representative democracy is to trust my representatives to choose wisely on my behalf.

I guess what I am saying is this: we must focus upon the "we" that is all of us, rather than taking the easy way out and blaming "them" for things with which we disagree.

We are all in this together. We are in covenant together. We belong to one another. The Apostle Paul reminds us (in I Corinthians 12) that we are like a body of many parts, but all parts are important, and all parts must work together. It is not "us" and "them" – it is "we." Sometimes we have to admit, as in the words of the comic strip Pogo that "we have met the enemy and it is us." Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. But it is still "we" and it is all of us.

I invite us – all of us and each of us – to remember that we are the ones who are responsible. That's who "we" are.