I have just returned from a worship service at our seminary in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. During the service the words of his Network of Mutuality were read.
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. There are some things in our social system to which all of us ought to be maladjusted. Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear, only love can do that. We must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love. Before it is too late, we must narrow the gaping chasm between our proclamation of peace and our lowly deeds which precipitate and perpetuate war. 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. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. We shall hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.
Reminded of these powerful and prophetic words, I am even more deeply saddened by our recent draft Statement of Conscience on Peacemaking.
At first, I was willing to shrug my shoulders at the inevitability of its ambiguity. We are, after all, a diverse denomination in many ways, especially regarding the philosophy of international law and politics. But, Dr. King reminds me that 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 am not asking that the Statement of Conscience be couched in a dogmatic framework of certainly, shutting out those pursuing anything less than absolute pacifism. I wrestled with Just War theory for decades myself, so I of all people respect the intellectual struggle this topic engenders. I am asking, however, that we consider adding language to the statement not only open to pacifism, language not merely welcoming of pacifism, but language that takes pacifism within the bosom of Unitarian Universalism and embraces it with all of the love we can muster for its challenge and its promise.
I propose that we seek language that expresses the opinion that, in time, we must commit ourselves to the belief that killing can never end killing, and diplomacy can never end injustice. Only love can lead us to a world where humanity can seek the promise of a community of hope without war. I cannot imagine better words than those written by Dr. King as a framework for committing Unitarian Universalism to a path to becoming a peace church.