We know a lot about war talk. We speak of fighting crime, obesity, drugs, and climate change. I am currently “fighting” depression. But if Quakers seek alternatives to violence, we need to develop a practical language for building peace. It’s not enough to “smite the enemies” of the problems in our lives.
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” This was Cain’s retort to God after committing the first cold-blooded murder in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic record. And even though God banished Cain to a lifetime of “restless wandering upon the earth,” God remained silent on the question of Cain’s obligations to his brother.
During the buildup of the Vietnam War in 1967, several Friends families found themselves in Visalia, California, due to the establishment of the American Friends Service Committee’s Farm Labor Program. The program was focused on helping low-income families, especially farm workers, to form cooperative groups.
My experience as a Navy pilot for a third of my life is fundamental to who I am. The military has significantly impacted my experience as a Quaker. This is most evident to me when I compare the Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Peace with the military codes and traditions that have shaped me.