CSW logo UUA Commission on Social Witness
service · advocacy · education · community organizing · witness · reflection · discussion

CSW Links:  CSW HomeForms & InfoPast BusinessSAI Yr1SAI Yr2ProcessCSW MembersContact CSWGA OfficeFaith in Action

You may be interested in the Study/Action Issue Resource Guide developed by the Washington Office for Advocacy and sent to all congregations October 2001 including the original Study/Action Issue.

Comment Forms were due March 3, 2003 but are still available for interest sake here in a PDF Version including line numbering and Comment Form.  You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader (free and downloadable).

The text of the draft Statement of Conscience will be redrafted by the CSW with reflection on the official comments they received and placed on the Final Agenda for GA 2003 in Boston.. (For further explanation see the "Background".)

Economic Globalization

Draft Statement of Conscience (August 2002)

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations


Summary of the Statement of Conscience

Economic globalization is a complex and dynamic system of connections, facilitating the flow of information, technology and commerce. It is a process of transformation that accelerates the integration of social and economic activities around the world. It has resulted in marginalizing and impoverishing peoples of the developing world and people of color, as well as the destruction of the environment and the depletion of natural resources. As people of faith with respect for the worth and dignity of all creatures and for the interdependent web of all existence, Unitarian Universalists are called to bring an ethic of care to our understanding of globalization and to do what we can to reverse the harm it causes without joining a myopic backlash against it. We are challenged to affirm our connection with all life and our responsibility for one another and the planet that sustains us.

Our world is one world:

its ways of wealth affect us all:

the way we spend, the way we share,

who are the rich or poor, who stand or fall?

“Our World is One World” is a prophetic hymn written by Cecily Taylor in 1930. Its verses capture the essence of today’s debate over globalization. Globalization brings with it many benefits, but the fruits of globalization have been inequitably distributed and many of its costs have been disproportionately paid by the least able. As a community of faith, Unitarian Universalists are challenged to bring an ethic of care to our understanding of globalization and to do what we can to reverse the devastation it has created without becoming part of a myopic backlash against it.

Defining Economic Globalization

Economic globalization is a complex and dynamic system of connections, facilitating the flow of information, technology and commerce. It is also an ongoing process of transformation. The underlying theory of economic globalization is the unleashing of unregulated free-market competition, driven by self-interest, as measured by the accumulation of capital. The fundamental ideas fueling globalization are the same as those that inspired primitive tribes thousands of years ago to trade something of value with another tribe. Unlike primitive tribal communities, modern communities have developed technological advances such as the Internet, which facilitate rapid market integration. By breaking through traditional national, cultural, and social boundaries that have divided people throughout history, economic globalization has resulted in the near instantaneous exchange of information, the rush of commerce and the massive migration of peoples, thereby integrating economic and social activities around the world. Although the globalization of world markets has reaffirmed the intrinsic ways in which humanity is interconnected, injustice and inequities persist.

Benefits and Liabilities

The market forces of globalization are driven predominantly by economic imperatives set forth by the United States. Economic globalization is, therefore, increasingly perceived as America’s imperialist colonization. The current expansion of economic growth has contributed mightily to the high standard of living enjoyed by many in the West and by others living and working elsewhere in the world. Many Americans, accustomed to our fiercely individualistic and competitive culture, find it difficult to grasp and uncomfortable to bear the crude global realities of abject poverty, hunger, and cultural and environmental destruction.

Although some people, especially those with access to capital, have enormously benefited from complex economic global transformation, many people have not and are becoming increasingly angry. The globalization ethic has allowed systematic exploitation of labor and the environment, coercive monopolistic pricing of goods and services, criminal evasion of local legal controls, growing debt among developing nations, widening gaps between economic classes, and devastation of traditional culture in societies marked by urbanization and exploitation. Often, despite the world being more technologically integrated, many so-called “winners” feel increasingly isolated and disconnected from their immediate communities. Many react to these senses of change and isolation by turning to ideological and religious fundamentalism. Others become myopic and parochial. Still others turn to criminal behavior and international terror.

As people of faith, we have a responsibility to take a stand to make democracy work for all people, locally and globally. We are challenged to find ways to create political and economic democracy and to develop vital egalitarian community life, addressing the needs and fostering the participation and leadership of the disenfranchised.

We are challenged to develop a vision to uphold human rights and to help preserve the identity-based traditions that give meaning and continuity to people’s lives, while empowering them to do what is necessary to thrive in a system of economic globalization.

As Unitarian Universalists, we affirm and promote:

·     The acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth, and a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. As a people of faith, we are called to study further and better understand the economic, political, and cultural issues of our times. Deepening our global awareness can enhance our individual and communal spirituality.

·     The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; and justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. The policies and practices of the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and other international financial institutions advancing economic globalization must be reevaluated and realigned, such that the freedom and dignity of individuals in all countries must be the primary consideration in the formulation of economic policy. Existing debt in the poorest nations of the developing world needs to be forgiven by the World Bank and other international lending agencies. We can become more effective advocates for increased funding of international economic, environmental, and humanitarian assistance as well as expansion of educational opportunity. We need to work to ensure that intellectual property provisions of international trade agreements do not put profit-making over the rights of people to medication, seed, and the ownership of their own cultural and genetic material.

·     The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within society at large. We must recommit ourselves to active participation in local, state, and national elections. We need to network with other progressive faith-based and community organizations to increase voter registration and turnout within disadvantaged communities. We need to advocate for the reversal of American laws and policies that perpetuate unjust economic systems. We need to hold our political and corporate leaders accountable for their policies.

·     The inherent worth and dignity of every person. Individual Unitarian Universalists, congregations, and the Unitarian Universalist Association must actively participate in the work of international organizations that advocate for human rights, worker rights, and environmental protections. The privilege of transacting business is extended to corporations by the countries in which capital is invested—corporations have the responsibility to pay their workers a comfortable, locally defined living wage, provide a healthy and safe work environment, and respect the right of their workers to bargain collectively in independent labor unions.

·     Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Through partnerships with Unitarian/Universalist congregations throughout the world, service in the Peace Corps, participation in international youth and cultural exchanges, and travel, we will have our perspectives and our hearts opened to the ideas, ideals, and dreams of others throughout the world, thereby making us better partners in the quest for a more equitable and environmentally aware global community. We must advocate for trade agreements that safeguard the natural environment including the air and the oceans.

As Unitarian Universalists, we are challenged to bring an ethic of care to our understanding of globalization. The transformation from ignorance into knowledge, from silence into speech, and from speech into action, is not easy. If we are to see the world for the interconnected web it really is, we are challenged to build a spirituality of resistance to privilege. Such a spirituality of resistance would have us turn from fierce individualism firing a self-serving globalization toward a relational sense of ourselves in a globally inclusive community of all living things. The privilege now cultivated by unfettered global markets would be replaced by an ethic and practice of constraints serving the common good.

Background: This draft Statement of Conscience of the Unitarian Universalist Association builds upon five social witness statements on economic, environmental, and labor issues adopted by the Unitarian Universalist Association between 1972 and 2001. In June 2001, the General Assembly of the UUA selected “Economic Globalization’” as the issue suggested to congregations for two years of study, action, and reflection. The Commission on Social Witness (CSW) received initial reports from congregations and districts in March 2002. In June 2002, the CSW held a workshop on this issue at General Assembly. This initial draft Statement of Conscience is being distributed to all congregations and districts for their reflection and feedback. Comments must be received by the CSW by March 1, 2003. The CSW will determine whether there is sufficient consensus among the commenters for the CSW to prepare a revised draft. The revised draft will be placed on the final agenda of the June 2003 General Assembly. A Mini-Assembly will be held at that time to receive proposed amendments. After final revision by the CSW, the final draft Statement of Conscience will be debated by the General Assembly. A two-thirds vote is required for passage.


CSW Links:  CSW HomeForms & InfoPast BusinessSAI Yr1SAI Yr2ProcessCSW MembersContact CSWGA OfficeFaith in Action

The Commission on Social Witness website is maintained by the CSW and its Administrative Assistant

Back to the Main UUA Page
Information: info@uua.org
Page last updated March 04, 2003
There have been 1791 accesses to this page since October1, 2002.
All material copyright © 2000, Unitarian Universalist Association.
Address of this page: http://www.uua.org/csw/saiy2.htm