Peace as a UU Value – Goekler (amendment to Article II, which will be placed on the final agenda)

Amendment:
20 Inseparable from one another, [DELETE: these] [INSERT: our] shared values are:

21 The UUA Board and staff will develop procedures for updating the graphic as needed.

44 and inclusive communities.
[INSERT: Peace. We dedicate ourselves to peaceful conflict resolution at all levels.
We covenant to promote a peaceful world community with liberty and human rights for all. Whenever and wherever possible we will support nonviolent means to achieve peace.]

Clean version:
20 Inseparable from one another, our shared values are:

44 and inclusive communities.

Peace. We dedicate ourselves to peaceful conflict resolution at all levels.

We covenant to promote a peaceful world community with liberty and human rights for all. Whenever and wherever possible we will support nonviolent means to achieve peace.

Rationale:
Phrases and terms from six of the current principles appear in the values statements proposed by the A2SC, but the sixth principle’s commitment to peace is not included. Adding Peace as a value with revised language drawn from the sixth principle is critical to avoid the impression that UUs are no longer committed to peaceful conflict resolution at a time of renewed war in Europe and the Middle East. UUs have a distinguished history of international engagement through the UU Service Committee, the Holdeen Project, Partner Church program, UN office and other initiatives. UU Congregations nationwide affirm their commitment to peace in bylaws mission statements and outdoor poles displaying the word “peace” in different languages.

By affirming a commitment to non-violence “whenever and wherever possible” the proposed value statement, like the 2010 UUA Statement of Conscience “Creating Peace,” also applies to conflicts within the nation, our congregations, institutions and personal relationships. In response to increased politically inspired violence such as the January 6 attack on the US capital, UUs should reaffirm their commitment to peacemaking rather than remove that value from Article II.

The proposed value does not commit UUs to pacifism; there will continue to be such gross injustices that a majority favors the last resort use of forceful measures to achieve a remedy. When endorsing military action in the past, UUs have been divided. A renewed commitment to peace will support our defense of conscientious objectors, while equally honoring and respecting our UU military families.
The proposed value commits UUs to work for “human rights” a significant, timely addition to Article II at a time when innocent civilians have become targeted victims of war crimes.

At the 2023, GA time ran out before consideration of this proposal. It deserves adoption in 2024.

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Keep Peace as a UU Value
The revised values proposed as Article II Amendments remove from the UUA Bylaws all reference to peace as identified in the current 6th principle. The additional Peace Amendment to be debated at GA adds a “peace” petal to the proposed floral display of values. Based on the 2010 UUA Creating Peace Statement of Conscience (SOC), the amendment
applies to “all levels” — conflicts abroad, in society, our congregations, personal relationships and within ourselves.
affirms support for non-violence “whenever and wherever possible.”
The current UUA Bylaw commitment to peace has not in any way prevented UUs from defending against and denouncing racist and homophobic aggressors, nor prevented advocacy for “any means necessary" to achieve justice. There is no need to remove the longstanding Bylaws commitment to peace in order to continue and expand the UU commitment to anti-racism, LGBTQ+ and other human rights.
The 2010 SOC makes clear the interdependence of peace and justice. A just world is a peaceful world. A majority of UUs believe that justice can not always be achieved by peaceful means. The SOC also affirms the rights of and respect for conscientious objectors, pacifists committed to non-violence in all circumstances.
In addition to reaffirming UUs historic and theological commitment to peace, the proposed amendment also adds to the Bylaws for the first time progressive support for “human rights” at a time when innocent civilians have become targeted victims of genocide and war crimes in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
A 75% supermajority of GA delegates should approve the Peace Amendment to reaffirm both the current UU Bylaws commitment to peace as a value and the 2010 SOC that begins: “We believe all people share a moral responsibility to create peace.”
2010 SOC
Creating Peace

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In our congregational meeting about this, it was felt that Peace could be a value tied to Love.

Yes, Peace centered in Love is what the Peace Value amendment is all about as we see peaceful conflict resolution by nonviolent means to be the core issue. Besides, Peace has (since the merger in 1961) and still is a part of Art II (curently the key issue in the UUA 6th Principle),

I agree that Peace is tied to Love - as are all of the Values. That’s why Love is in the center :slight_smile: All of the Values are interconnected. I think the question is about what Values need to be focused on and fully articulated. I think Peace is one of those values.

 Delegates at the 2023 GA overwhelmingly rejected a proposed Amendment that offered a different definition of love that included peace.  Speakers who opposed that proposal argued that a commitment to peace was inconsistent with UUs anti-racist campaign.  Why?  A supermajority of UUs have always recognized that Justice can not always be achieved by peaceful means, while respecting and defending the values of pacifist members who are conscientious objectors.

The current UUA Bylaws commitment to peace has not prevented UUs from defending against and denouncing racist and homophobic aggressors, nor prevented advocacy for “any means necessary" to achieve justice.  There is no need to remove the longstanding Bylaws commitment to peace in order to continue and expand the UU commitment to anti-racism, LGBTQ+ and other human rights.
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My concern is what the last poster brought up - that peace literally means “freedom from disturbance; tranquility”, (first dictionary definition that comes up), which is very different from “no war”. I am concerned that listing Peace as a central value of our faith, despite that the wordingsuggested here is okay if you read the details, would be used to silence marginalized people speaking out against their own oppression, because they “aren’t being peaceful” or “are disturbing the peace” of their congregations by being hurt or angry or challenging the status quo. In the principle that mentions peace, it’s in the same line as liberty and justice so I think it offsets this potential use/interpretation, but here that might be lost. Perhaps we could add that we stand against war as text elsewhere in the article, rather than having peace as a central value.

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could be, but is it clearly stated as such? Or must one infer it—if one chooses?

Has that been a concern with the current version? Has anyone referred to the 2010 SoC, Peacemaking (deliberately not Peacekeeping for its legal definition and potential for misuse in terms of avoiding good trouble)? Almost any document can be abused, but do we write to exclude every possibility of that? Or do we accept that this is to be considered as someone of good faith, not looking for loopholes through which to exercise power, would read it?

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I agree that if you wanted to twist the documents to nefarious ends you could probably do so regardless of what we write, however, this isn’t that niche of a problem - marginalized people are being silenced in the name of peacefully keeping the status quo by congregational leaders. These aren’t leaders intentionally “looking for loopholes”, but people who genuinely believe that peace and comfort of the majority are more important than issues like microaggressive violence against minorities, and feel entitled to enforce that. In the past couple years in Canada, in four congregations that I’ve heard of the board was actually acting against the principles - silencing/threatening marginalized people to be silent, acting against anti-oppressive ministers, or squashing the attempts of the congregation’s members to do anti-oppressive work. So this has real consequences. Some congregations are a lot worse than others. (Though, I acknowledge that in the worst ones they’ll probably keep doing what they’re doing regardless of what we say, because they already are, but I just don’t want this to support that violence.)

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O.K., I was looking for current examples, and you have provided some. I think, given the situation in Gaza, Yemen, potentially with China, etc, that I still want Peace included as a value, but you have given me food for thought when I look at the wording again (I am replying from e-mail); I appreciate that—and I do understand that the refusal to “afflict the comfortable” that should go along with “comforting the afflicted” can be a problem even with basically well-meaning folks—we (I guess that should be “I”; speak for oneself only!) want truth to power everywhere, not politeness at the expense of justice.

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Yeah, I kind of wish there was a word that meant “no war” that wasn’t “peace”, since peace actually means something else. I still think an alternative would be to make a clear anti-war statement somewhere else in the document (it would fit in with some of the language under interdependance I think).

Actually, the first definition of peace is “no war”, and the second is the nonviolent end of war, only at the 3rd definition does the harmonious aspect come in:
peace /pēs/
noun

  1. The absence of war or other hostilities.
  2. An agreement or a treaty to end hostilities. (“negotiated the peace.”)
  3. Freedom from quarrels and disagreement; harmonious relations. )“roommates living in peace with each other.”)
    from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition • More at Wordnik
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Depends on the dictionary I suppose. “Freedom from disturbance; tranquility” was the first definition my computer finds when I type “define peace”. However, let’s be more official than either of our examples:

The #1 definition by the Oxford English Dictionary (the most prestigious one I know of) is “Freedom from civil unrest or disorder; public order and security” which is still closer to what I said. Not until the 6th definition do you get any mention of war.

And the #1 from Merriam-Webster, one of the most highly used dictionaries in North America, is "a state of tranquility or quiet: such as
a) freedom from civil disturbance (Peace and order were finally restored in the town.)
b) a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom (a breach of the peace)
War isn’t mentioned until the 4th definition.

So if what we want is “no war”, peace is really not the best word to use, because it would be reasonable to argue that those who speak out against the status quo/a congregation’s board or policies are in fact acting unpeacefully.

Yes, and Cambridge lists nonviolence and gives about 6 war-related examples, so there is no point in trading dictionary perspectives; we could go to journalistic style sheets or a thesaurus (and which one?), so we will have to agree that you and I see the word differently, and come June we will learn more about which interpretation is more common among UUs.

Thanks for the conversation!

| franceskoz Frances
February 13 |

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Depends on the dictionary I suppose. “Freedom from disturbance; tranquility” was the first definition my computer finds when I type “define peace”. However, let’s be more official than either of our examples:

The #1 definition by the Oxford English Dictionary (the most prestigious one I know of) is “Freedom from civil unrest or disorder; public order and security” which is still closer to what I said. Not until the 6th definition do you get any mention of war.

And the #1 from Merriam-Webster, one of the most highly used dictionaries in North America, is "a state of tranquility or quiet: such as
a) freedom from civil disturbance (Peace and order were finally restored in the town.)
b) a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom (a breach of the peace)
War isn’t mentioned until the 4th definition.

So if what we want is “no war”, peace is really not the best word to use, because it would be reasonable to argue that those who speak out against the status quo/a congregation’s board or policies are in fact acting unpeacefully.

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The Concept of Peace as a UU Value Centered in Love is not new. Below is from the UUA 2010 SOC Creating Peace
“We advocate a culture of peace through a transformation of public policies, religious consciousness, and individual lifestyles. At the heart of this transformation is the readiness to honor the truths of multiple voices from a theology of covenant grounded in love.”

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So just wondering……
Suppose this was adopted. Would that mean it was against my UU values to support US financial aid to Ukraine to help them in their war against Putin and Russia?
I think you get the idea that I’m not a pacifist. Should we make pacifism a central core of our UU faith?

Hi Maria,
From the UUA SOC “Creating Peace” (I was one of the authors)
“We affirm a range of individual choices, including military service and conscientious objection (whether to all wars or particular wars), as fully compatible with Unitarian Universalism. For those among us who make a formal commitment to military service, we will honor their commitment, welcome them home, and offer pastoral support.”
Here we affirm that we are not a “Peace Church” – not Quakers, Amiash, etc. I have military family and I support their service. Likewise, If I had someone who was a CO I would support them. This to me is an important issue of individual choice.

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I think for me, the key phrase in the Amendment is “whenever and wherever possible.”

“Whenever and wherever possible we will support nonviolent means to achieve peace.”