“We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fighting with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever."- Declaration made to Charles II in 1660
We don't assume that we can escape from the realities of a world in which violence appears so deeply rooted. We are, however, constantly challenged by the existence of weapons of mass destruction, the number and intensity of violent conflicts, the cycles of poverty, alienation and violence that destroy peace in many deprived communities, and apparently random acts of terrorism.
However hard it is, it is important that we remain true to our principles. We try to show that there is another way of conducting human affairs and resolving conflicts in a non-violent way. In many cases this will involve difficult choices. Our conscience may be troubled trying to work out what is right in areas like peace-keeping.
Throughout history, much has been achieved. The peace testimony involves thinking and speaking the unthinkable, believing this may lead to a real shift in attitudes. What is idealistic in one generation, becomes a cherished right in the next.
The peace testimony also means working for forgiveness and reconciliation and living in a sense of our shared humanity.
Our faith in action
- Quaker work has led to a recognition of the right to conscientious objection to military service and has involved relief and ambulance work in war-stricken areas.
- Quakers played a significant part in working towards the recent international moves to ban child soldiers, and were behind the Department of Peace Studies at Bradford University being established.
- There has been a move away from the popular glorification of war towards seeing warfare for the moral abomination that it is.