I was disappointed to hear the peace making resolution only had an hour of debate.I'd like to hear more of what happened in SLC, but it seems to me the success of the surge in Iraq (and I'm proud to say I had a very very tiny roll in it) took all the steam out of peace making talk.Puzzlement on what to make of Obama's policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan has similarly taken the steam out of peace making talk.That's not right. We shouldn't be waiting for the campaign in AFPAK to go south before we resume deliberations on Peace Making again. There is something perverse about only talking about Peace when America and our allies are taking a beating.Or have I gotten a totally wrong impression here? I'd like to hear more from someone who sat through that sole hour devoted to peace making.
The surge had nothing to do with it- I don't remember it even coming up. Nor did Obama's policies seem to matter... it was a three-cornered discussion between those who thought it was too weak, that not even self defense justified violence; those who were ok with self defense if the UN permitted it; and some few who wanted it made clear that all the harsh language wasn't aimed at UUs in the military. As no language was found to include all three positions, it was deferred for another year.
Is it true it only lasted an hour Joel?Considering the surge and predator strikes in AfPak; NK's missle talk of launching missles on Hi, it seems strange to dismiss peace making talk after an hour and send it back to the congregations for more reflection.War Time puts Peace Making talk to the test and we should have tested. I don't get the sense that was done.
PS Note Jess's use of the word "heated" to describe past peacemaking talk.It wasn't "heated" in my Church's peacemaking group, but I felt a lessening of "intensity" as the surge succeeded.Maybe that is just my perception, but I felt steam go out... I think that's wrong. If anything, the steam ought kick us into gear as America embarks, as we are with the surge in Afghanistan, or confront NKorea's missle launches.Waiting for the carnage afterwords and saying we were against this, and there was a better way isn't right.
Thanks for the shout-out, CC. :-)Bill -- I'll post more on this on my own post, but the fact that the debate lasted a full hour in Plenary is actually a sign that people are really invested, not a sign of apathy. Plenary time is precious, since there is so very much to get through at a G.A., and most debate on big statements like this actually happens at the mini-assembly, which is where amendments are crafted. There were close to THIRTY substantive unincorporated amendments (needing votes from the delegates to be included) as a result of that mini-assembly, along with a goodly number of incorporated amendments to the original text (those that pass if the statement as a whole passes).
I don't know the exact time it lasted, though an hour seems about right. But eight hours wouldn't have made any difference- it was clear from the beginning there was no consensus in the room. Nobody was able to find a bridge between "UUism is against violence on principle" and "Serving in the military is a valid path for a UU". In fact, a number of the peacemaking supporters never seemed to have considered before that they were in essence demanding that UU soldiers and chaplains choose between their service and their church, and were only just realizing which way they would likely choose.
An hour in plenary is an unusually long time to discuss anything. It was scheduled for less. That's why they have the mini-assemblies -- to do the hard work before it hits plenary. I think we will need more than another year on this. The "peace at any price" on one end of the spectrum and the "support our troops" at the other end aren't going to be reconciled easily.Much as I hate to acknowledge it, ultimately, all authority rests on the threat of violence. Maybe the issue becomes keeping it the threat of violence rather than the act of violence as often as possible -- but, obviously, violence has to happen sometime for the system to work. The die-hard anti-violence people will (most likely) never accept this, so reconciling all positions may not be possible.
Joel wrote, "a number of the peacemaking supporters never seemed to have considered before that they were in essence demanding that UU soldiers and chaplains choose between their service and their church" -- I find that astonishing.Not that there aren't people that clueless (humanity's adept at it, and most of us can find a corner to turn and a wall to walk into--at some point--to find our own. Been there...). But having been part of a class, at one of our seminaries, which included military chaplain candidates and devout peaceworkers, that struggled to work on this language... But I should admit that for reasons entirely my own, I avoided plenary sessions and was not a delegate. So I accept that it happened. I'm just frustrated by it.
Ogre -- seminary is a bubble, to be blunt. The wider UU world is still getting used to the idea of UU military chaplains, and many individuals can't wrap their head around the fact that UUs currently serve in the military at all."The Military" has become an "other" in our movement for many, synonymous with George Bush and his "evil" cronies, and it is only through discussions over issues like this one that this rift can be mended. I think it truly did come as a surprise to many at G.A. when they were confronted with individuals belonging to this group that has been so effectively "othered," who expressed real pain and misgivings over the text of this flawed statement.
Jess, I appreciate blunt... but I don't exist at seminary. I only get to visit it, briefly. more than 90% of my year is at home, attending my own little UU congregation--which has been far more stereotypical than it cares to know. Designated itself a Nuclear Free Zone decades ago, and so forth.But we've changed in the past few years; military members open about their careers, organized concern about/for the members stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, collections of stuff for them and for them to distribute to the people -- and schools -- that they dealt with, and so on.So... sure, I get that seminary--academia--is a bubble. But I am looking mostly through the eyes of the congregation. (And we missed meeting at the commissioning ceremony we both attended at G.A.)
Jess wrote:-snip-"'The Military' has become an 'other' in our movement for many, synonymous with George Bush and his 'evil' cronies, and it is only through discussions over issues like this one that this rift can be mended. I think it truly did come as a surprise to many at G.A. when they were confronted with individuals belonging to this group that has been so effectively 'othered,' who expressed real pain and misgivings over the text of this flawed statement."Jess,I'm a 20-year veteran who has retired from the Air Force and who still works for the Air Force as a civilian civil servant. Most of my active-duty military time was spent in B-52 aircrew duties (including regular alert duty and a visit to Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Gulf War).I have been a member of two local UU congregations (Rapid City SD and Shreveport LA) in addition to belonging to the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF) church-by-mail program.I have served on district boards and district youth-adult committees (YACs). I also served as the LREDA rep on the UUA's Campus Ministry Advisory Committee for two years during my active duty Air Force time (which included two trips to the ConCentric young adult leadership conference).I have co-led OWL training workshops across the US since 1999.During all of this UU stuff, I was never criticized to my face for serving in the military by other UUs.However, I have been criticized by members in my current UU congregation to my face for my support of various UUA-supported programs (YRUU, Welcoming Congregation, OWL).What I've found strange is the times that I've been treated as the "other" in UU settings has not been a result of my military service. Of course, this experience may be unique but I have yet to encounter a harsh anti-military attitude from other Unitarian Univesalists. I also didn't have huge issues with the draft peacemaking statement either.If we were to pass the draft statement, I doubt it would change anything. Even if we were to become totally pacifist (which the draft statement did not require), we would still have people who would be called to serve in the military just like the Quakers do (President Nixon) and the Mennonites do (Maj Dick Winters of Band of Brothers fame).We may be over-estimating the influence of religion when it comes to decisions about military service.
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