Each year the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) hosts our Intergenerational Spring Seminar. Our 2017 theme was Arm in Arm: Interfaith Action to Disarm Our Planet, looking at how people of faith can work together to make a difference and move our world toward peace instead of armed violence.
Throughout the seminar participants met in collaboration groups to discuss and process the informational panels and activities. At the end of the conference, each collaboration group submitted a statement which contributed to our annual Spring Seminar Statement. Below is our collective statement from 2017.
Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office
2017 Intergenerational Spring Seminar Statement
Arm in Arm: Interfaith Action to Disarm Our Planet
We recognize the value of human life and the fragility of existence.
We affirm values of justice, mercy, and compassion, and seek to promote equity and peace throughout our interconnected web of existence,
We acknowledge that the Unitarian Universalist movement consists largely of individuals with privilege in regards to access to education and socioeconomic status, and we also know there are those in our movement who do not have those privileges,
We recognize and name the intersectionality of oppressions stemming from white privilege and white supremacy, such as race, poverty, gender, sex, and marginalization of indigenous peoples,
We remember that the United States developed and used the first nuclear weapon, and is a leading global distributor of arms,
We know there are more than 15,000 nuclear weapons remaining in the world. And each of these weapons has the capacity to destroy millions of lives and wreak havoc on the environment,
We believe that cooperation between and among nations can be a bulwark against violence, and the United Nations is the organization which most effectively facilitates this cooperation,
We recognize that:
Much of our world community suffers from systemic oppression and lack of access to basic needs, and that violence stems from that inequality and lack of opportunity,
Dehumanization of the Other perpetuates violence while disconnecting us from our common humanity,
Violence has been normalized, glorified, and desensitized in our society,
Militarism plays a key role in contributing to racial, social, and ideological discrimination on the mass scale,
Drone usage in current warfare results in high counts of civilian casualties,
Any use of nuclear weapons could lead to planetary suicide,
We Therefore Resolve to:
Deepen understanding in our congregations and youth groups about the function and importance of the United Nations.
Advocate for the United States’ full involvement in the United Nations process including financial support and ratification of critical UN treaties.
Urge all 193 member states of the United Nations to complete the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty and put it into force.
Promote international condemnation of the use of drones as weapons, as we have done for biochemical weapons.
Affirm the need for the United States to adopt universal national gun control laws.
Educate our faith communities about the destructive toll of nuclear weapons, small arms, and state-sponsored violence.
Remind UU congregations to recognize their roles in systemic oppression, while using our own privilege and power to create solutions in partnership with affected parties.
Ask our congregations to dedicate at least one worship service each year to recognize victims of armed violence, and to use that service to initiate sustained dialogue and action.
Commit to lift up the voices of people who are directly impacted by armed violence.
Encourage our members to write letters to our elected officials and other individuals in positions of power.
Promise to continue to educate ourselves and advocate for disarmament at a personal level, societal level, and governmental level.
Use this education and advocacy to collaborate with the UU-UNO to effect systemic change and the recognition of the power of the world’s citizens to create peace.
Affirmed by the participants of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office Intergenerational Spring Seminar, New York City, 8 April, 2017.
Watch a video of the theme panel, "Global Efforts to Disarm Our Planet," from the 2017 Intergenerational Spring Seminar. Panelists included:
- Ambassador Caleb Otto (Former Permanent Representative of Palau to the United Nations)
- Ray Acheson (Director of Reaching Critical Will)
- Hiro Sakurai (Director of Soka Gakkai International’s UN Offices in New York and Geneva)
- Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout (Director of Worship and Music for First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, MI)
- Chris King (Chief of the Strategic Planning Unit in the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs)
- Moderated by Bruce Knotts (Director of the Unitarian Universalist UN Office)
Watch a video of the Rev. Chris Antal's keynote address, "Left of Boom"
Read all about what happened and what was learned at the seminar on our blog! Including inspiration for action to take at your congregation (see "Action Fair").