Take Away The Occasion Of All War
I told them . . . that I lived in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars.
-- George Fox, 1651
We utterly deny all outward wars and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretense whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world. . . . 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. . . . Therefore, we cannot learn war any more.
-- George Fox, Friends Declaration to King Charles II, 1660
Peace is the second of the Quaker Testimonies following the acronym of SPICES (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, Stewardship of the Earth).
The Religious Society of Friends has been considered one of the “Peace Churches” since its beginnings in the mid 1600’s. The quotes above from Founder George Fox says it all – we strive to “study war no more!”
Not participating in war as a warrior has been a long time Quaker goal. It is true that some Quakers have fought in wars during past history, but they did so mostly after spending considerable time examining their conscience and discerning their individual leading to do so. Because Quakerism teaches that we should strive to “follow the Light within us,” we are free to question what is the right thing to do for ourselves as individuals. Thus, while the group may counsel not to join the military, an individual is free to follow his or her own conscience regarding this decision.
Many other Quakers defied drafts and have been imprisoned for doing so, declared themselves to be Conscientious Objectors, or enlisted with the caveat that they would not bear arms, but serve as chaplains or medical support for the wounded.
But not participating in warfare is not the end all and be all of the Peace Testimony. It embraces living in Peace on all levels. We strive to be in Peace within ourselves, in our thoughts and feelings. To put aside hatred and vengeance, worry and doubt; to embrace love and forgiveness in dealing with ourselves and others, to speak kindly and with compassion, to strive to be understanding of our fellow human beings are our goals.
To quote the Southeastern Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice: In our individual lives, the peace testimony leads us to accept differences as an opportunity for loving engagement with those with whom we disagree. That love can often be expressed in creative, nonviolent resolution of the disagreement.
There are multitudes of ways the Peace Testimony can express itself in our lives. For example: some earn their money only from sources that do not contribute to the military complex, or are Vegetarian because they do not want to participate in the slaughter of animals. They contribute to and support organizations that are working for Peace or teach non-violent resolution in schools and other institutions.
Just being at Peace in your own life adds to creating Peace on Earth.
presented by John Palozzi
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