GA 06.23.07 - So Much For PeaceMaking

Last year at GA, the delegates voted to adopt "Peacemaking" as our Study Action Issue for the next four years.  Given that it was the only option, it showed that the SAI process was in need of revision.  Given that the language of the original text of the SAI was imo reactionary to the current war and potentially greatly divisive ("Let's decide once and for all whether UUs support "just war" or pacifism."), I was worried.  But I have been pleasantly surprised that the Commission on Social Witness and a core group of expert advisors have reframed the discussion, broadening it to encompass all aspects of Peacemaking, from the personal to the interpersonal to the international.

This year, I was really looking forward to a GA workshop called "The Theology of Peacemaking" with panelists Sharon Welch, soon to be Provost of Meadville Lombard, and Bill Schulz, former president of the UUA and former executive director of Amnesty International.  Really looking forward to it.  However, when I got there, I saw that the room was way too small for the crowd it had attracted.  Initially, I staked out some standing space by the back wall, but having lost it when I went to talk to the workshop moderator, Rev. Meg Riley, I decided to give up and go back to booth duty.  I was really disappointed, but these things happen.

What I heard later is that a riot nearly broke out at this workshop on Peacemaking.  (Can we say "irony," kids?)  All three staff members with whom I spoke afterwards looked shell-shocked.  People became loud and physically aggressive, reacting angrily when they tried to close the doors in an attempt at crowd control, getting in people's faces, and insisting that they move the workshop of 150+ people to another room in the middle of a session-packed General Assembly because (to paraphrase), "I paid for this conference so I am entitled."  

I'm sorry. I understand how frustrating it can be to not be able to see something that you really wanted to see, but if you can't be mindful of your own behavior towards others during a workshop on PEACEmaking then I don't know that you're really going to learn anything from the workshop anyway.  

The UU sense of entitlement may be our greatest barrier to peace.

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