I have reviewed Peacemaking: A Draft Unitarian Universalist Statement of Conscience (November 2008 draft). I am not surprised at the content, and frankly wonder how it could have taken so long to craft the statement.
Aside from this one note of snarkiness, the draft certainly expresses the point of view I expected, since the Association is simply not ready to become a peace church. That said, my main response is this. Someday, maybe in the not too distant future, we are going to have to get off the fence. Someday, we will no longer be able to rationalize our use of violence…ever. Because if you support war, in the end it does not matter what your rationale is. You are still supporting war. Which means that we have compromised our first principle to affirm and promote the inherent worth of every person.
Now, I have made the personal choice to become a pacifist, so it is fair to ask me how we can resolve conflicts that seem to meet all the criteria for engaging in a just war. I ask you to imagine a possibility. Imagine that a country is engaged in a terrible civil war and innocents are being slaughtered on both sides. All diplomatic avenues have been exhausted. The only solution left would seem to be to load up the planes and ships with soldiers and guns and send them over to invade.
But, instead of sending 100,000 soldiers with tanks, rifles, and bombs, what if we filled all those planes and ships with 100,000 peacekeepers and crates of food, medicine, and other supplies? Using the same infrastructure one would use to support a military force, what if we unloaded 100,000 people, armed with only good will and knowledge to help the country rebuild? What if those 100,000 people simply walked, arm in arm, across the border and into the middle of the fighting? What would happen?
Some would almost certainly die. Ten, a hundred, even a thousand. But, some would walk and continue walking. They would be joined by the people of that country, becoming a human arrow of nonviolence into the country. In time, the shooting would stop. Impossible, you say. I say, “Why not?” People are already dying and will continue to die. You cannot kill people to make them stop killing. Killing only produces more killers, if not now, then in the next generation. Only by irrevocably breaking the pattern of killing can we end war.
The UUA Statement of Conscience is a present-oriented statement and probably reflects the opinions of the current membership of the Association very accurately. But, war and violence is never going to end through incremental transformative change. It will take a nonviolent revolution to end war. It will take enough people committed totally to peace who are willing to sacrifice everything to end war. We must begin building a peace army to engage in that revolution.