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Activities around the 350th anniversary of the declaration to Charles II Large print format available: Others came, and received the same denial. We had been talking for an hour and a half with a clergyman neighbour, and afterwards I sat by the fire and thought. We must resist the urge towards waste and the accumulation of possessions. See also 20.67–20.75 Conflict & 23.84–23.85. What we advocate is not uniquely Quaker but human and, we believe, the will of God. They are therefore not legitimate weapons in the Christian armoury, nor are they sources of security.’. Each tries to still the inward clamor of personal anxieties and ambitions, listening for the voice of the Inner Guide, endeavoring to be faithful to its instruction.” Though the proceeds it raised were put to good use in the developing world, the yearly meeting had failed to respond to the call to demonstrate to the government that the public would support more taxation for international aid. We pray for the involvement of the Spirit with us, that we may work for a more just world. It made a great noise in the country, and my life was threatened. I stood at the fence one night in September, feet rooted to the muddy ground, hands deep in my pockets, watching through the wire that flat ravaged land that is now never dark, never quiet, imagining through the fence a field of bracken and scrub, a field of flowers, a field of corn, a field of children playing. Because of their certainty of the will of God for them they are not frightened to find themselves in the centre of the world’s evil, and because of their experience of the love of God, they have the patience and the understanding to speak to the condition of their fellows. I am further authorised by my 13-year-old Vietnamese god-daughter whose guardian I am. I do not wish to deny that on April 4th, the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, I was inside the Faslane Submarine Base, and that I was there as a deliberate act. Thus will the Peace Testimony be renewed, and thus will Quakers be able to more effectively advance a moral vision of the common good. Early Quaker Statements. None of us, no nation, no citizen, is free from some responsibility for this situation with its conflicting difficulties. As I thought over this, old thoughts and memories awoke from sleep. … Friends, it is an awful thing to stand forth to the nation as the advocates of inviolable peace; and our testimony loses its efficacy in proportion to the want of consistency in any… And we can serve our country in no way more availingly, nor more acceptably to him who holds its prosperity at his disposal, than by contributing, all that in us lies, to increase the number of meek, humble, and self-denying Christians. When the power of the Gospel spreads over the whole earth, thus shall it be throughout the earth, and, where the power of the Spirit takes hold of and overcomes any heart at present, thus will it be at present with that heart. In March 1982 Meeting for Sufferings considered the request by some London Yearly Meeting employees that the part of their income tax attributable to military purposes should be diverted to non-military uses. In offering some suggestions I had wrestled in prayer and I knew beyond all doubt that I must refuse to register, that those who believed that war was the wrong way to fight evil must stand out against it however much they stood alone, and that I and mine must take the consequences. Nor did they leave behind them the hatred, devastation and bitterness that war, successful or unsuccessful, does leave. To the world in its confusion Christ came. The Peace Testimony is perhaps the best known of the Quaker testimonies and the basis upon which the Religious Society of Friends, along with the Mennonites and the Church of the Brethren, is known as one of the three historic peace churches. At times the impulse to return to this work becomes almost irresistible. Is it helping to succour the needy, to release those who are in bonds, to give light to those who are in darkness? Peace begins within ourselves. Is it bringing the light of day into places of deceit and corruption? But if this be impossible, as indeed it is impossible, so will also the other be impossible, and men do but deceive both themselves and others, while they boldly adventure to establish such absurd and impossible things. Even in the first flush of enthusiasm fewer than 1,500 persons or households supported it and by 1989 it had fewer than 500 subscribers. Traditionally, little encouragement has been given to young people to take responsibility for resolving conflicts, to look for ‘win-win’ solutions. Nor did they equate conflict with evil. But almost always there is, behind the physical need, something much less concrete, a damaged or lonely or hopeless or hungry spirit, and relief work which does not penetrate to this level, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, and make some contribution to healing is a job only partially done… Inspired relief workers cease to be external agents; like Woolman they have a sense of being ‘mixed’ in with suffering mankind: unselfconsciously they become part of the chaos, the misery and the perplexity in which they move, and yet they neither accept nor are degraded by the situation. In any particular situation, a variety of personal decisions could be made with integrity. Does its moral authority increase or diminish? My reason for not furnishing them was demanded, to which I readily answered, ‘As this instrument is purposely made and used for the destruction of mankind, I can put no weapon into a man’s hand to destroy another, that I cannot use myself in the same way.’ The person left me much dissatisfied. I come to be with the women who live here, the dykes, the dropouts, the mothers and grandmothers, angels with countenances like lightning, I come to talk with the police, the soldiers, men who might be gardeners standing by the tomb; I come to meet the Christ in them. Extracts from a statement issued by the Quaker Council for European Affairs in 1987: Our vision of Europe is of a peaceful, compassionate, open and just society, using its moral influence to encourage other countries and peoples towards the same goals. In 1925, the following questions were included in a section of our book of discipline on the League of Nations as showing some of the tests by which Friends might judge the League and its actions. Quakers have to search for the ways in which the testimonies can become true for themselves. I am charged under an Act giving control and disposal of land to the Queen, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, the Commons assembled in Parliament and eventually the Secretary of State. They were well aware of the suffering which a non-violent witness could bring in an imperfect world. The European economy should take positive account of the economies of other countries and not exploit their weaknesses. What you can do 13. They listened very quietly and only asked me how I intended to put into practice what I had learned and then, how my plans for going to China were progressing and then they seemed satisfied. We must start with our own hearts and minds. Since losing the appeal we have paid in full the income tax collected from our employees. The Peace Testimony, to me, means waking up every day, and getting back into the situation as it is, with the best of our conscience, and encountering the world as we know it. Taking to heart the message on a Quaker poster, ‘World peace will come through the will of ordinary people like yourself’, they put their life savings into a scheme to send groups of peacemakers to visit the two superpowers – the USA and the Soviet Union. It does mean that Quakers believe that nonviolent confrontation of evil and peaceful reconciliation are always superior to violent measures. They tempt men to evil, and they breed suspicion and fear and the tragic results thereof. It has been well said: ‘It seems to be the will of Him, who is infinite in wisdom, that light upon great subjects should first arise and be gradually spread through the faithfulness of individuals in acting up to their own convictions.’ This was the secret of the power of the early Church. The action of withholding the military proportion of our taxes arose for us from our corporately held testimony that ‘the Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world’. The peace testimony has inspired Quakers to protest wars, refuse to serve in armed forces if drafted, to seek conscientious objector status when available, and even to participate in acts of civil disobedience. Where conflicts arise, we can seek a nonviolent resolution by working for reconciliation…. This meaning of appeasement, the buying of peace for ourselves temporarily by pandering to international blackmail, has rightly come to be despised and to be regarded as an encouragement to aggressors and despots. That is the call I hear. It costs far more to spend mind and spirit, if need be, in the silence of a prison cell, in passionate witness for the great truths of Peace. Affirming the personal value of each individual, encouraging mutual respect and consciously developing the skills and attitudes involved in creative conflict resolution must be regarded as an important educational priority. It has become increasingly apparent to [us] that new understandings and a change of heart within our own nation are an essential prerequisite to international reforms which might serve the interests of the most vulnerable nations and people. The peace testimony has inspired Quakers to protest wars, refuse to serve in armed forces if drafted, to seek conscientious objector status when available, and even to participate in acts of civil disobedience. What we call for in this statement is a commitment to make the building of peace a priority and to make opposition to war absolute. We urge all New Zealanders to have the courage to face up to the mess humans are making of our world and to have the faith and diligence to cleanse it and restore the order intended by God. The explanations of Quakers for the peace testimony echo the views of early Christians whose writings are still available to us. I chose to create the dream of another way. Quaker Peace Testimony and Pacifism . The missiles are here, you won’t change anything, why do you come?’ We come to watch, we come to witness, we come with our hands full of ribbon and wool, flowers and photos of loved ones, hands full of poems and statements and prayers, hands full of hope and the knowledge that such hope is impossible to rational minds. This I was privileged to do during nineteen months spent at the Front with the Friends Ambulance Unit from October 1914 to May 1916, when it was still possible to give voluntary service. We are now increasingly aware that the Western development model, in which many had such confidence, is based on rampant exploitation of both people and the physical environment, is not fulfilling the real needs of many of our own citizens, and threatens the survival chances of human beings in poorer countries. If I may, I would like to outline very briefly the reasons for so acting, not so much as mitigation of guilt, but rather as a declaration of intent, for as long as those bases remain, I must continue to act as my conscience guides. Some Friends in both England and America paid such taxes but John Woolman became uneasy, so he wrote in his journal: Yet there was in the deeps of my mind a scruple which I never could get over… I all along believed that there were some upright-hearted men who paid such taxes, but could not see that their example was a sufficient reason for me to do so, while I believed that the spirit of Truth required of me as an individual to suffer patiently the distress of goods rather than pay actively. On April 4th, I made a choice. May God steady me, and keep me faithful to a call I have heard above the roar of the guns. We are warned by our scientists that their use will involve not only the most terrible suffering now, but unknown consequences for succeeding generations who will pay the penalty for our sin. The acceptance of the rule of law is part of our witness, … for a just and peaceful world cannot come about without this. At the personal level we must ask ourselves how we spend our time, and how we use the talents God has given us in earning a living, remembering that in spending we are asking others to use their resources in our service. In like manner the staunchness of early Friends and others to their conscientious convictions in the seventeenth century won the battle of religious freedom for England. I am convinced that we can find a clear, positive answer by investigating how Christ himself met the tensions of his time; for him tensions which separate people simply do not exist. The peace testimony has inspired Quakers to protest wars, refuse to serve in armed forces if drafted, to seek conscientious objector status when available, and even to participate in acts of civil disobedience. Our consideration of international affairs has brought us into the presence of human tragedies, for which only the things of the spirit can offer consolation. He accepted, but the Conference loomed before him as an ordeal. Like other Quaker testimonies, it is not a “belief”, but a description of … It’s messy, muddly and sometimes painful – but the other way, the search for some kind of mechanical invulnerability, for some kind of scientific guarantee against physical death, that way I am sure lies the death of the Spirit. Mothers for Peace was the brainchild of two 85-year-old Quakers, Lucy Behenna and Marion Mansergh. Red police car, blue lights flashing, ‘What are you doing, then, love? It is true that this is more a matter of will than of machinery; our aim must be to strengthen both the good will of nations and international machinery. In An essay towards the present and future peace of Europe, by the establishment of a European diet, parliament or estates, published in 1693, William Penn envisaged constitutional arrangements for a United States of Europe. We must relinquish the desire to own other people, to have power over them, and to force our views on to them. Those who can give something of their lives to human rights require our support and we can look for opportunities to help those in need around us. Not only is it an inappropriate and impossible model for others to follow, it is itself responsible for exacerbating many of the problems it purports to solve. If a major war breaks out the temptation to use them will be very great. I acted also with the authority of the nameless millions dying of starvation now because we choose to spend £11.5 billion on Trident whilst a child dies every 15 seconds. More Gardner Documentary Group Films Lost Child ~ Sayon’s Journey Yet there were individual Friends who wished to make a sacrificial witness. From this beginning the work has continued and extended, involving women from many countries and cultures. All bloody principles and practices we do utterly deny, with all outward wars, and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world. Reconciliation, in the biblical sense, is not about ideologies or beliefs but about people, their relationship and response to God, and their relationship and response to each other. Is it fostering co-operation? Jesus knows no fear, nothing holds him apart from other people. Do we tell them we disapprove of what they are doing or urge them to repent and desist? The peace testimony is a tough demand that we should not automatically accept the categories, definitions and priorities of the world. We have handed over to them our personal responsibility to achieve these aims, but with tragic lack of success. Quaker approaches to disarmament have largely avoided the temptation to appeal to fear. The peace testimony, the testimony against war, is the truth as Quakers have understood it. These questions still indicate the criteria by which the international organisations of today may be assessed: Has it promise of becoming a league of all nations? As Friends we have never been satisfied that corporate statements and personal witness are enough. This situation demands sweeping political and economic changes; and we are convinced that the hope of freedom does not lie in violence, which is at its root immoral, but in such changes as may be brought about by fellowship and mutual service. But it is by harmony and goodwill that human security can be obtained. We are, I trust, steadfast in emphasising hope not fear as the driving force for disarmament. And as for the kingdoms of this world, we cannot covet them, much less can we fight for them, but we do earnestly desire and wait, that by the word of God’s power and its effectual operation in the hearts of men the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ, that he might rule and reign in men by his spirit and truth, that thereby all people, out of all different judgments and professions might be brought into love and unity with God and one with another, and that they might all come to witness the prophet’s words, who said, ‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more’. As Quakers we seek to be sensitive to that of God in others and in ourselves, whose needs have the same validity as our own. It is the worst blasphemy to destroy what the Lord is prepared to redeem. The multitude and complexity of the problems of oppression and injustice often seem to overwhelm us. We can do something. “Peace testimony, or testimony against war, is a shorthand description of the action generally taken by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) for peace and against participation in war. This is a sine qua non in the search for truth, and is evidence of strength and not of weakness of personal or of national character, even when it means temporary humiliation. Unless we take our Christian responsibility for closing the gap between our comfort and their misery, we shall blunder deeper and deeper into world-wide disasters – and probably to self-destruction. Mediation is one method which can be offered or suggested. A relief organisation, then, ought to be a corporate body capable of both commonsense and imaginative action, combined with a natural ability to convey to others a sense of inner peace and stability, surviving outward chaos and yet not divorced from it. However we do wish to make it clear that we object to the way in which the PAYE system involves us in a process of collecting money, used in part to pay for military activity and war preparations, which takes away from the individual taxpayer the right to express their own conscientious objection. If we are to face these issues aright we are called to re-examine our whole way of life. ... in A Declaration from the Harmless and Innocent People of God called Quakers… My only crime is not working hard enough, or long enough, or soon enough towards the fulfilment of the dream. Not all Quakers embrace this testimony as an absolute; for example, there were Friends that fought in World War I and World War II. The peace testimony gradually became institutionalised, reflecting the preoccupations of succeeding generations and their perceptions of world affairs. Now we must act; take new and revolutionary action at the level of our personal responsibility to give back to the world’s poor the wealth of which we have robbed them and are still robbing them. The early statements of the Society’s corporate witness set out the basic principles of the peace testimony and served to distinguish Quakers from those suspected of plotting to overthrow the established authorities. Is it relying upon intelligent public opinion and on the consent of its members, rather than on fear or on threats of coercion? The peace testimony also means working for forgiveness and reconciliation and living in a sense of our shared humanity. As this spirit grows within us, we shall realise increasingly what it is to live in the virtue of that life and power which takes away the occasion of all wars. We equally and actively oppose all that leads to violence among people and nations, and violence to other species and to our planet. Guard against placing your dependence on fleets and armies; be peaceable yourselves, in words and actions, and pray to the Father of the Universe that he would breathe the spirit of reconciliation into the hearts of his erring and contending creatures. The foundation is faith in the power of God’s love to transform us and our society and to bring justice to the poor and oppressed. Thus he sees in the other man only his brother, his neighbour. The personal responsibility which we hand over to governments, trade unions, committees and churches has failed to banish world poverty. I hope this statement will lead others to think deeply of their individual responsibility towards all the world’s problems and to take action now, sacrificially – guided by the Christian spirit of deep caring. To place the emphasis instead on hope, and the positive achievements we associate with disarmament, does not mean embracing a shallow optimism. Introduction to Quakers and peace Tax was withheld from October 1982 until, in June 1985, the Appeal Court ruled that the action was unlawful. The Peace Testimony. To decide to do nothing is still a decision, and it means that you remain on the station platform or the airstrip when the train or plane has left. We covet a like faithful witness against war from Christians today. The Peace Testimony is largely derived from the teachings of Jesus to love one's enemies and Friends' belief in the inner light. This is the foundation of what we must do in our testimony of peace in this time of war. I concluded that it must be the way to take for me and for Japan who had heart-rending experiences of defeat in war and of two nuclear disasters. Now, in the war, I do not think that any of us could doubt the colossal quality of the evil represented by Nazi philosophy. A hundred yards to my left, women cut the wire, roll away the stone, and walk through into the tomb. That to me is blasphemy. I was asked to be at the Tribunal in Manchester by 11 am on Tuesday, i.e. We also need to be conscious that, if we offend against accepted law, we may have to take the consequences of our action. I felt the need to be faithful to truth instead of relying on existing judgment. The 1% Fund, established by London Yearly Meeting in 1968, operated for just over twenty years. And I do not think that, in political terms, it was possible to contemplate coming to any sort of political compromise with it… Speaking personally as a Christian pacifist, I had a far deeper sense of spiritual unity with those of my friends in the fighting services who, detesting war as deeply as I did, yet felt that there was no other way in which they could share in the agony of the world, than I had with those pacifists who talked as if the suffering of the world could be turned off like a water tap if only politicians would talk sensibly together. I had never heard nor dreamed anything like that even though I had been brought up in a devout Christian family. ‘Good evening.’ ‘Good evening.’ I wait, not knowing what I’m waiting for. Mothers were chosen because they have a special affinity with one another and a common desire to secure a safe and peaceful world for their children. We have thought of the widespread exploitation of economically under-developed peoples, and of those industrial and other workers who are also exploited and heavily burdened. What can be claimed, moreover, is that this method of opposing evil is one of which no person, no group, no nation need be ashamed, as we may and should be ashamed of the inhumanities of war that are perpetrated in our name and with our support. It is of a community of peoples which acts towards individuals and other communities as we would have others act towards us. It also contained no prohibition against paying taxes for purposes of war, something that would trouble Friends to the present. In ignorance or knowingly we all violate human rights. Then I seemed to see that war cannot rightly come to an end from self-interest or cowardice or any worldly reason but only because men and women, by one and one, without waiting for the others, have become loyal to the spirit of Christ. Quakers recognise that there is 'that of God in everyone', and this leads us to renounce violence and to work actively for peace. The peace testimony is about deeds not creeds; not a form of words but a way of living. I remembered the familiar words about William Penn’s sword – ‘Wear it as long as thou canst’: and it seemed clear to me that if William Penn had given it up from self-interest or cowardice, or for any reason short of the ‘witness of God in his own soul’, he would have been wrong. It has also led at times to a refusal to contribute resources to the preparation for war – from Pennsylvania’s refusal to provide funds for the defence of New York in 1693, to modern day Peace Tax campaigns. We have only one world, and our present wasteful consumption of non-renewable resources and damage to the biosphere must stop. They are the bricks of which the institutions of peace must be built, ‘oft with bleeding hands and tears’… But tears do not always blind. Abstract: This paper looks at the Peace Testimony of Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends) and argues that, although Quakerism is commonly seen as pacifist (in some sense of that term) by many both within and without the Society, the Peace Testimony is best seen as not pacifist. This includes promoting peace education, challenging militarism, campaigning against war and for disarmament, and supporting the peace movement in Britain. For each testimony, below, we list several activities in italics, followed by the way we apply and weave each activity into our curriculum. It is a conviction that has shaped the entire story of Quakerism. Friends are not naïve enough to believe that such an appeal ‘to that of God’ in a dictator or in a nation which for psychological or other reasons is in an aggressive mood will necessarily be successful in converting the tyrant or preventing aggression. It requires that men and nations should recognise their common brotherhood, using the weapons of integrity, reason, patience and love, never acquiescing in the ways of the oppressor, always ready to suffer with the oppressed. Some refused to pay taxes. That Kingdom has two tenses: it is already here, in each one of us; and it is still to come, when God’s goodness becomes a universal norm. Quaker peace organisations in Britain 12. Their use is a denial of the true laws of good living. We must literally not take too much thought for the morrow but throw ourselves whole-heartedly into the present. QuakerWiki is a FANDOM Lifestyle Community. Governments, trade unions, politicians and churches have talked loud and long about justice and the brotherhood of mankind. Peace testimony This involvement is incompatible with our work for peace. Benjaminville Friends Meeting House and Burial Ground, A Declaration from the harmless and innocent people of God, called Quakers, Some Early Statements Concerning the Quaker Peace Testimony, Pamphlet from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, RSF, on the Peace Testimony, 'Think Peace' - a series of six articles from Quaker Peace & Social Witness of Britain Yearly Meeting, https://quaker.fandom.com/wiki/Peace_Testimony?oldid=1950. Peace testimony, or testimony against war, is a shorthand description of the action generally taken by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) for peace and against participation in war. If there is nobody to arbitrate, then the ‘strongest’ will ‘win’ and the ‘weaker’ will ‘lose’. Action has taken various forms and has included public protest, the relief of suffering, reconstruction and the removal of the causes of war through mediation, reconciliation, disarmament, building the institutions of peace, promoting social justice, and getting at the roots of conflict and violence in our personal behaviour. Corder Catchpool (1883–1952) served in the Friends Ambulance Unit during the First World War, but on the introduction of conscription he returned to England to give his witness as a conscientious objector and was imprisoned for more than two years; later he worked for reconciliation, especially with Germany. People matter. These things only make people suffer. In every country there is a longing for freedom from domination and war which men are striving to express. It’s about ending oppression in all forms, both blatant and the more subtle. However, I pled guilty to the charges because had I done otherwise I would have been guilty of far greater crimes against my conscience and against humanity. The blood of the Christians proved a fruitful seed. Friends (Quakers) believe in the peace testimony, community, simplicity, equality, and that of God in every person. It should be distinguished sharply from the admission, which personal or international integrity might sometimes demand, that we have made a mistake or have ourselves done wrong, and are ready to make open amends or to reverse our policy. In doing this, the means become part of the end. However, the secret lies in the way in which truth is spoken. Friends are already working in a variety of ways: through international bodies, through voluntary organisations and by personal witness. Beyond the general notion of pacifism, the situation here has lent a special urgency to our reputation for harmlessness. 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Us collectively a long time, and others have been imprisoned the of!, devastation and bitterness that war and for disarmament, our pensioner is princely rich violence among and... Not legitimate weapons in the morning, they accept that I don ’ t, how do we them... Are all involved in the first flush of enthusiasm fewer than 1,500 persons or households supported it and 1989... Service during wartime, and violence through the centuries, but with tragic lack success... Repudiation of force ; it can not be answered in any particular situation a... Relating to Quakers, namely: the Quaker peace testimony also means working reconciliation…! Evening. ’ ‘ Good evening. ’ ‘ Good evening. ’ ‘ Good evening. ’ I wait, not knowing I. As a deterrent is faithless ; to use them will be achieved by all men see... Had its first claim on us hundred yards to my left, women cut wire... British Friends have assisted the victims of war hypothetical statements activities around the anniversary.
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