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

Yes, that may be very true. But having Peace as a petal and bringing it forth as one of our core values does not easily communicate that nuance. While I would support the concept in the body of our revised article 2 revision, I don’t think I would want it as a core value

1 Like

Our current 6th Principle: “The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.” for me this indicates a level of support for peace. We have always had peace in Art II (1961 - 1985) as it was in the original 4th Principle.

1 Like

I often see us UUs walking in the footsteps of Gandhi and King – we do not avoid conflict – we use nonviolent means to acheive justice in our advocacy efforts to obtain human rights and liberty for all.

I am reminded of one of the current 6 sources - which is also echoed throughout the Proposed Revision: “Confront powers of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love.”

I appreciate the intent and the basic idea behind this amendment. I do not think it is needed, see my reasoning below.

Further, it may also suggest to some that their protests should be made only in narrowly acceptable ways or perhaps should not be made at all. This is not in line with my values.

Peace per Merriam-Webster -
1 : a state of tranquility or quiet: such as
a: freedom from civil disturbance
b: a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom
2: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
3: harmony in personal relations
4a: a state or period of mutual concord between governments
b: a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity

Peace meaning:

  1. UUs will promote civil disturbances and disobey laws when our neighbors are treated unjustly and are not treated with inherent dignity and worthiness. - so meaning 1 is not a UU value
  2. If we do not experience disquieting thoughts or emotions from time to time how we will ever experience spiritual growth or learn how to understand those who have different views from our own? - so meaning 2 isn’t working great as a UU value either
  3. We have covenants about our personal relations that call us to communicate with respect and to accept responsibility for our own actions. - Yes, communicating in a non-violent and respectful way, but not always harmoniously, is a UU value. But surely this is part of all of our group covenants already.
  4. Ah, here is war. Do we need an additional value statement to tell the world that we are anti-war and anti-hostility? I think this definition of peace is covered in the other parts of Article II and is clearly part the other UU values. For example:
  • In Section C-2.1 – Among the purposes of the UUA is listed “to heal historic injustices”. The word choice of heal suggests doing no harm by supporting those who have been injured physically, mentally, economically, and emotionally by injustice. Violence against a person or group is an injustice. This is anti-violence work. This is peacemaking work.
  • Also in Section C-2.1 – “actively engage its transformation of the world through liberating Love.” – If peace means something close to the word “shalom” then it includes being whole and safe, what is liberating Love if not the work of creating space for all to be whole and safe?
  • Interdependence – “Protecting Earth and all beings from exploitation” is peace-keeping work. So is “work to repair harm and damaged relationships.”
  • Equity – “We declare that every person has the right to flourish” – This value moves us to act to prevent violence and destruction and further to prevent persecution because of identity, because no one flourishes in those conditions.

This does not actually make pacifism a core value; it does say that we consider violence a last resort if needed for self-defense, etc.

I would add the words " just, equitable, compassionate, and " with “peaceful.” Without these additional features, peace can be repressive.

2 Likes

I believe this is a quote from Martin Luther King in reading #584 of our hymnal:

“One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”

I appreciate your comments here Maria. My ancestors are disruptors and that sometimes means a throwing a brick. As a BIPOC, I have found some white folks sometimes weaponize language around peace as a way of silencing, tone policing or even judging resistance to all kinds of oppression. So I am not in favor of peace being added.

I also find it redundant with other values and not strong or poetic. If you want peace, work for justice, equity and generosity and all the other values in A2 we will have peace. Multiple other BIPOC UUs agreed with what I’m trying to explain here and spoke to how some white UUs use weaponize peace to silence/tone police BIPOC UUs at the spring Caucus I just attended on A2.

1 Like

Reposting here (from a thread on FB Blue Boat Passengers group)–a link to transcript of a Corrymeela Podcast episode on peacebuilding with Prof. John Paul Lederach: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5daeee9a317b5e0d4e2c35c3/t/6601d939c52b697e62722a94/1711397178815/S03E01+John+Paul+Lederach+transcript+-+The+Corrymeela+Podcast.pdf

One line that means a lot to me personally appears in an introduction before the actual transcript: “If you’re part of a group, be mindful and considerate of one another’s willingness to engage in
the discussion - leave space for people to keep their reflections to themselves if they want to.
You might also want to agree on some general principles to stick to, like: everybody’s invited
to speak once before anyone speaks twice, and: try to assume that everybody is speaking with
good intent.
” (emphasis added)

Actually I should quote the rest of this introduction–

"In group discussions at Corrymeela, we seek to locate political and religious points of view
within the story of the person speaking. If you’re gathering as a group, consider how to create
a sense of connectedness among you.

"You might like to choose one or two of the Very Short Story questions that we like to put to
guests at the end of each episode. Your answers to these can be one sentence long, or a few.
Belongings are plural, as are identities and nationalities. So feel free to respond to these
prompts in a way that reflects your own story.

" What’s something important that you’ve changed your mind about?

" Are there books, poems, films, albums, works of art, etc that you’ve turned to again and
again?

" Tell us about a time when your national identity felt important to you.

" Tell us about a time when you felt foreign.

" Is there a very short story you can tell us about a time when you said something that
surprised you?

“ Has anyone ever said that you were disloyal to one of your cultures or identities? Why?”

(Other readers will be much more familiar than I am with the Corrymeela Community, a peace organization founded in Northern Ireland in the mid-60s. I’ve gotten to know it a little bit through Pádraig Ó Tuama’s work, including his own podcast and also his role in Krista Tippett’s On Being.)

3 Likes

Further on the Corrymeela podcast linked-to above, this passage where Prof. Lederach has talked about transformation as an alternative to resolution—the need for small goals, for modesty, in peacebuilding (p. 10 of transcript):

“[A]t the core of it … is something that I’ve struggled to know how best to both approach, much less nourish or teach, which is a fundamental way of being in the world that embodies some form of humility. … the way to be present in the world where you recognise that you don’t understand it all, and that you don’t have access to control it all, and that there is a deep need for a form of interdependence that links up things that are not directly tied, and may in fact appear initially to be opposite or even contradictory. And yet that’s precisely I think what’s most needed: peace emerges in the unexpected, and in the unlikely, and in the improbable, and when we’re able to hold those, that ability to both be aware but also contribute rather than, you know, force ourselves into forms of attribution, that what is the one cause/effect that makes everything else work, I think we understand how these are very complex endeavours and that we’re a small part of something that’s, that’s really big.”

For sure, the context of what Lederach is saying is hugely important.

He’s talking about communication among people who are ‘present in the room,’ so to speak–people who have already chosen to “try to assume that everybody is speaking with good intent,” to use the Corrymeela formula that I quoted in my earlier reply.

At least it’s people who have already decided that it’s not altogether foolish—it’s worth the risk—to assume that those in the room are trustworthy, to assume that they can be trusted to hear my thoughts, my silences too, and to keep my needs in mind.

This is a question for each of us on this forum: Is it realistic for me to take this risk, to assume a basic level of trust among all of us in the room? I mean, we won’t always have it. The Corrymeela introduction says “try”—it’s not an absolute commitment, because we’re human, partial, fallible. But is what we have enough at least for our purposes here?

2 Likes

Agreed that there are individual answers—but if we can’t assume that folks are at least trying to get along, we have a bigger problem than we realize.

1 Like

My own fear is that we do have that bigger problem and are reluctant to set to one side, for the moment, the things we can’t agree on, and talk together frankly about the things we’re not speaking frankly about, which would include from my own personal perspective the dilemmas of delegates who are juggling multiple loyalties, wanting to be true to one’s own sense of what is moral and ethical and desirable in the service of the greater good in our community of communities, and at the same time wanting to honor the choices of fellow professionals, understanding that there are also differences in rank, differences in power. I’m so sorry to be mentioning this though I do think we need to. I’ll try to say more later.

So two thoughts; the first is below, and I’ll put the second in a later post.

The ‘7 Principles as Preamble’ amendment proposed by Unitarian Society of Ridgewood (NJ) - I’m one of the authors; one person called it the ‘good Hyde amendment’ - missed being on the GA 2024 final agenda by a small margin. We got a late start, and yet 13 of the required 15 congregations nationally endorsed us. We celebrate you!!

Why does this matter? Because our amendment is good history: It connects our Article II review to the context in which the Article II Study Commission began its work, including, in 2017, the hiring controversy at UUA; Rev. Peter Morales’s resignation and the interim appointment of 3 co-presidents, one of whom was Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt, who was subsequently elected at GA 2023 to serve a full 6-year term; and the GA 2017 responsive resolution that supported the 8th Principle.

As my congregation’s 7 Principles as Preamble amendment to the Study Commission’s Article II proposal went live on discuss.uua.org in early January 2024, my own personal and heartfelt wish was that adding the 7 principles in the introductory part of Section C-2.2 Values and Covenant, with worth updated to worthiness, would serve two main purposes:

  • As a gloss on the meaning of ‘love’ in the preamble to Section C-2.2 Values and Covenant, a narrative of sorts on how this latest expression of our UU faith came to be; and
  • As an acknowledgment of the painful struggles of 2017 and their foundational role in the Commission’s work.

The issue here, especially in this second point, is transparency and openness. The Commission’s proposed revision is vulnerable to being seen as a diversion from, or even inadvertently a coverup of, the struggles that came to a head with the events of 2017. Having the 7 principles in the Section C-2.2 preamble is a gesture to acknowledge that history. It says no, we don’t forget.

Additional points to note:

  • The risk is there regardless of intent. I don’t mean to question the intent of the Commission or anyone involved with their work. Moreover, the year 2017 held joys as well as difficult struggles: it was at GA 2017 that UUs celebrated the 8th Principle through their responsive resolution, and chose Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray as the first woman elected as UUA president. Yet we all know how keeping secrets and glossing over problems and failures can harm the process of building and maintaining trust, even when those who want to clear the slate are motivated by the best of intentions.
  • Adding the 7 principles to the Section C-2.2 preamble is only a partial answer. It doesn’t address the issues regarding accountability and covenant and commitment to action that are raised so eloquently by many people here and in the FB forums that address the Article II review. Yet at the very least it says here are 7 principles that represent an important part of our foundation, that help express our sense of what love means. Don’t hide or conceal their existence.

Again, I’ll follow this up with a second thought in a subsequent post. Thank you for reading. — Katherine Hyde

Here’s the second of two thoughts on the ‘7 Principles as Preamble’ amendment proposed by my congregation, the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood (NJ):

To recap: I wrote above that one purpose of including the 7 Principles, using worthiness in place of worth, in the preamble of Section C-2.2 Values and Covenant, was to make sure that we do not forget the context in which the Study Commission began its review of Article II, namely the struggles over race, gender, and accountability that came to a head in 2017.

Included here are the hiring controversy at UUA; Rev. Peter Morales’s resignation and the interim appointment of 3 co-presidents, including our now-president Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt; and the GA 2017 responsive resolution supporting the 8th Principle.

Recalling this history is a way to grapple with, and embrace, key issues of trust and openness.

Issues of trust are also fundamental to my second set of questions, which concern the disparities in power and influence between ordinary laypeople, on the one hand, and clergy and other professional leaders within UU, on the other.
The core question, baldly put, is about conflicts of interest, whether present or only potential, matters of appearance or actual conflicts…

I wish I didn’t have to talk about this, because I deeply appreciate the service of my own ministers and RE professionals at USR. I deeply appreciate the work that is done all around the country by dedicated and talented people who serve the UU ‘community of communities.’

The risk here lies in the dual role of the UUA, as sponsor of the Study Commission, sponsor and manager of GA meetings and the voting process, arbiter of denominational affairs, and ardent advocate for the Commission’s proposal, on the one hand, and coordinator of training, hiring and other systems that loom large in the lives of UU clergy and other professionals, on the other.

Ministers and other professional leaders within UU are looked up to by ordinary UUs. They have wide influence—in fact that’s what congregations hire them for, to provide leadership and guidance on moral and spiritual questions of the kind posed by the Article II review process.

Ministers and other professional leaders who are delegates at GA are free to vote as their conscience dictates. That’s not an issue. It’s a secret ballot.

The problem comes when ordinary lay people like me begin to wonder if we can be confident that ministers and other UU professionals who urge us to adopt the Commission’s proposal are doing so freely, without being unduly influenced by the UUA’s role in their professional lives.

In the great majority of cases, it was the UUA that helped train our ministers, helped train their seminary professors as well, helped get them established in their professional roles. When ministers and other professionals are deciding how to guide ordinary lay congregants on Article II, can they set to one side the importance of the UUA in their own lives? I hope that I as an ordinary lay congregant can be forgiven if I find this situation uncomfortable and confusing.

Please note that these are not questions that anyone has raised with me. I’m not speaking on behalf of my congregation, nor have I asked anyone to review these comments in advance.

In part, I’m raising these questions because I do feel, quite personally, the awkwardness of my own position as an author of the ‘7 Principles as Preamble’ amendment. I am an outsider looking in, an outsider wondering why it’s so uncomfortable to be in the position of challenging the UUA leadership’s strongly held and strongly voiced desires that the Commission’s final proposed revision be adopted forthwith, ideally without change and certainly without repeating (almost) verbatim the language of the 7 Principles. And then I wonder if being open about my own uncertainty and discomfort could be helpful to others—could help us clarify what this community of communities can and can’t commit to at this moment in history.

Conflicts of interest, whether potential or ongoing, whether an appearance of conflict or actual conflict, limit our ability to trust each other and work together.

Can the conflict I’m describing be mitigated sufficiently between now and when GA 2024 begins in June?

That I don’t know, except to say that one way to start working towards the goal of mitigation will be for all involved to acknowledge the fact of conflict, openly and frankly, which we have not done.

Will it be helpful for UUA leadership to say explicitly now that clergy and other professionals are free to disagree publicly with the Commission’s proposed revisions? To ask clergy and other professionals outright to reconsider their support for the Commission’s proposal, and to alter their guidance to their congregants in light of what their conscience tells them is best for UUs whom they serve? To craft alternative proposals for GA 2024 that won’t leave clergy and other UU professionals in what may be an awkward position of choosing between career prospects and conscience?

Conflicts of interest are not rare, and sometimes they can be overcome. But to do so, first we have to talk about them openly and honestly.

We have to set to one side, for now, feelings of resentment and shame that are naturally stirred up by questions and disagreements about power and influence.

For if we can’t clear the air—if we can’t talk about these difficulties with care, kindness, and generosity—I’m not sure that we can have the trust and spirit of inquiry that we need to move forward together as a community.

Thank you for reading and considering these thoughts.

Sincerely yours,

Katherine Hyde