Quakers and Peace
From early in our 350 year history, Quakers have taken a clear stand for peace and against military action. The words we have written, and action we have taken in opposition to war and in support of peace, have come to be known as 'the Quaker peace testimony'.
The peace testimony is often identified with a declaration by early Quakers in 1660, but it has always been more than that. It is an active expression of our understanding of the nature of how we should live in this world; an understanding that comes from our experiences of meeting together in worship - periods of collective quiet prayer and reflection. It is an evolving expression of an insight at the heart of our approach to faith, challenging us in every generation.
We call it a 'testimony' because it is how we witness to the world about our beliefs. Our experience is that everyone can respond to and express the living spirit of God within us.
We try to live out our commitment to peace in our daily lives and in our work, individually and together. Sometimes, we set up and support long-term individual and collective Quaker action as an expression of our peace testimony. For example, we develop and support alternative ways of resolving and engaging in conflicts, and work for a reduction in armaments in the world and a change to the conditions and circumstances that lead to war. At other times, simply 'bearing witness' to a different way - a way that affirms the value of all life rather than denies it through warfare - is all we can do as individuals. But this too is an important part of our testimony.
Our peace testimony is neither simple, nor will all Quakers have the same understanding of what it will lead them to do in any given situation. Above all, based on our understanding of God's love, our peace testimony is about paying attention to all relationships, from those with family and neighbours to those between nations. It is an opportunity to undo some of the hurt in this world and to build a better future.
All people of all religions or no religion can be part of this - can any of us afford not to?