Peacemaking SOC Comments

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Here are some official comments submitted to UUA's Commission on Social Witness on the November 2008 Draft Statement of Conscience on Peacemaking.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder

A group of 5 people at UUCB responded to the call to send in feedback on the SoC. We had a reasonable degree of consensus.

We support the focus on Compassionate Communication and think it has the best potential to turn this into a "Springboard for action" for UUs. It would be a contribution to the UU social witness statements in and of itself. It could be significantly expanded.

It would help to somehow cover the difficulty of applying just war theory in practice without causing yet more problems, given the notoriously corrupting influence of power.

We think more focus on action and on what we agree on, and less equivocation and background on remaining disagreements would strengthen the SoC.

We object to the current "Human Biology" section and have attached an alternative. We are pursuaded by the developmental view of violence espoused in "The Biology of Violence", by Debra Niehoff. She is a neuroscientist and discusses the complex interactions between biology and the environment in relation to aggression and violence. An interview with her about the book is at: One thing she says in the interview is: "The biggest lesson we have learned from brain research is that violence, like all complex human behaviors, is the result of a developmental process, a lifelong interaction between the brain and the environment."

We also are generally in support of many of the comments made by Dr. Howard Tolley & Rev. Frank Carpenter at

as well as those by Hal Bertilson there on Human Biology.

The term "demonic threat" is just the sort of language we should be avoiding, and conflicts with more modern understandings of the banality of evil that are important in the compassionate communication we are trying to promote.

For the "Human Biology" section, propose rewriting the first paragraph (lines 44-50) as follows:

Human Biology and Societal Roots of Violence

Human violence has biological and societal roots. Physically and mentally we have developed a capacity for aggression that can result in physical, emotional, economic, or environmental injury. Although by adulthood most of us have learned to restrain our use of physical violence in interpersonal conflicts, violence within and among nations occurs with regularity and is frequently perceived as a way to achieve desired ends.


We recognize that our society encourages a culture of violence, and promotes our aggressive tendencies over our cooperative ones. Competitive behavior is often prized over cooperative behavior; aggression is modeled in the media, in the way in which we treat children, and in the way in which our nation behaves internationally; and the history books often emphasize wars. In order to build a culture of peace we need to acknowledge these societal factors in our attitudes towards violence and work intentionally to counteract them.