When Quakers say we want to work for peace, does that just mean a lack of war? Or is it something greater? Kristina Keefe-Perry wrestles with the deeper spiritual implications.
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- Most people identify Quakers as pacifists, but is that concept too limiting? Do you know other Quakers who don’t identify that way?
- When Quakers say we want to work for peace, does that just mean the lack of war? Or is it something greater?
I think that pacifism is like a fruit, and I would like to have a word that somehow describes that fruit of reconciliation grows from roots that are tended in the soil of worship.
Why I’m Not a Pacifist
In what we call Friends peace testimony now [George] Fox talks about living in that light and power that takes away the occasion for all wars. And I think that life and power part is the soil that we need to nurture—all of us—to be in that life and power that takes away the occasion for all sorts of violence and helps us move out of the comfort of the institutions we’ve built and into some new space.
When I think of “pacifist” I think that the word is too small to hold what I would like to mean and not sure what the word is so I’m going to try and work it out. “Pacifist” implies someone who denies or abores or negates the use of physical violence and war—which I do—but it doesn’t in my mind open up the truly revolutionary possibilities that are implied in peacemaking and especially in faithful peacemaking and more specifically, for me, in Christian peacemaking.
“There is enough”
There’s some word—maybe it’s reconciliation—to describe Jesus’s ministry which he ministers to the pain and suffering not just of those affected by violence but by poverty and greed, other forms of violence that aren’t the physical violence implied by war which then gets me to pacifism.
So maybe, I was thinking about this, maybe I’m a “Shalomist”: someone who believes in God’s shalom, God’s peace and abundance for all… that God wills that everyone has abundance and peace and is doing what they are supposed to be doing.
Or maybe I’m a “Jubilee-ist,” who believes that we can work to a time when we have dismantled human structures and institutions as we’re invited to by the description of the Jubilee year to lay down all contracts, to let the slaves go, to let the land lie fallow, to return all of the landholdings to their original owners, like a big cosmic reset button of possibility of an acknowledgment that there is provision. There is enough.
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.