Peace Testimony

My dears, I need to share something with you.

I don’t feel comfortable with New Year Resolutions. For me there is an implied double standard, a bit like the implied double standard of swearing an oath to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. What this means, to me, is that the rest of the time I might not do that.  How very dare you!

The other day I wrote a piece about a blog I enjoy reading, so today I am going to tell you about another one, written by Fish of Gold.

There are many great reasons to enjoy the blog: witty stories, great quality writing and provocative articles. FOG also occasionally shares difficult and demanding issues and experiences, and in my opinion this is what contributes to turning the blog into a fully-rounded expression of being human (or piscine, if you will).

Recently FOG wrote about Bloggers for Peace, and it caught my eye in particular because I think peace is a good idea.

If you are interested in reading more about it, then you can click the badge on this blog or follow this link to Bloggers for peace. Just imagine – if just 100 bloggers commit to blogging once a month in 2013 about peace and what it means to them, we will have a great conversation with more than a post a day. All the How-to-do-it is there too.

I am a pacifist. I said I think peace is a good idea, but I don’t think it’s is an easy or simple idea. Crucially I find the some people equate it with passivity, but I am here to tell you that is not the case.  Pacifism is not passive surrender, it is an active obedience. That can mean upholding a difficult and unpopular point of view, and even facing persecution for it. It can (and does) mean that we oppose the use of force no matter what, even, for example, in 1939 against the Nazi threat. We uphold the essential humanity of evil-doers, while detesting and opposing their evil. We demand that they are dealt with another way, even though we might not know what it is, or how it can be done.

Many war-mongers try to validate their actions by claiming they are required in order to bring about peace. I can’t hold with this. To explain why I am now going to quote to you from the original Quaker Peace Testimony, so prepare yourself for some righteous 17th century olde English.

the Spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil, & again to move unto it; And we do certainly know, & so testify to the World, that the Spirit of Christ which leads us into all Truth, wil 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 Testimony was addressed to Charles II in 1660 to demonstrate that Quakers, a heavily persecuted religious group, were no threat to the authorities, and had no intentions of rising up violently against the newly restored crown. At the time carrying a sword was as normal as carrying a mobile phone today, and people who chose not to do so were viewed with intense suspicion.

The nub of the argument was that it was inconsistent and unethical to say one day you were for peace and the next that you would kill people who disagreed with you. It identified a double standard. Quakers at that time decided this was not acceptable for them, and have kept to that ever since.

The Quaker Peace Testimony remains central to modern Quaker beliefs and actions. As a Quaker I want to uphold this testimony, although I fail and fail every day, then fail again. And every day I need to brush myself down and try once more.


5 thoughts on “Peace Testimony

  1. I love the Quaker Peace Testimony. I also love the fact that you end your post with Namaste. Isn’t it an amazing world we live in today where we can combine the best of all traditions? Thank you for this powerful testimony for peace. If we really looked into it, I bet that the Quakers predate Gandhi’s passive non-violence.

    • Thank you for your kind words 🙂
      Quakers see a lot of shared testimony with Buddhism, but also in other surprising areas. Non-violent direct action has been practised, if in another names, by Friends since the 17th century, including the children of Reading Meeting who continued to meet together even though the entire adult membership had been imprisoned.

  2. Pingback: Personal Peace « Fish Of Gold

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