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WEBSERVANT'S NOTE: This is an unofficial report on an important Quaker conference, published here as a public service with the permission of the authors. It does not cover all the workshops, and it may contain a few inaccuracies. The conference has an offical Web site which includes full texts of many of the plenary talks, with others to be posted. Complete proceedings are eventually to be placed on the Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas, Web site, and will also be available in printed form.
Friends Meeting of Washington
Peace and Social Concerns Committee
Conference Report: Friends’ Peace Witness in Time of Crisis
Jan 17-20, 2003 at Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina
Prepared by Maia Carter, Justin Connor and Bernadette Odyniec
More than 245 Friends, representing every major branch of Quakerism and North American Yearly Meeting, gathered together at Guilford College over the 2003 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend for a conference called by the the Friends World Committee on Consultation (FWCC). We came together in worship, plenary sessions and workshops to share experiences, discuss, challenge each other, enjoy fellowship, seek support from each other and labor with each other over the peace testimony of the Religious Society of Friends. The theme of our time together was Friends’ Peace Witness in a Time of Crisis, and this theme united the many diverse workshops, participants and goals for our time together. This conference was the fifth gathering called by FWCC since its founding meeting in 1937. The conference came together with only ten months of planning, with the idea originating at the March 2002 Annual Meeting of FWCC’s Section of the Americas.
While no ‘statement’ emerged out of the gathering, we left with a message of the living presence of the peace testimony in our lives. We were reminded that the peace testimony is not the taproot of Quaker faith and practice, but rather, the Living Spirit, the Light Within is our source of energy and guidance. Rather than intellectualize regarding the peace testimony, we should nurture our spiritual faith, and hone our listening skills, so that we can hear that “still, small voice.” Friends reminded us to spend time in active searching and listening to God, and to test our leadings with others in our meetings. Upon discerning our callings, we should act upon them, knowing that we are not all called to the edge. Some of us may be called to tend the fire, and should do that to the best of our abilities. However, if we are called to the edge, we should go. Historically, Friends went to meeting for worship each week expecting to be changed, and they were. If we lay our burdens at the door, and wrestle with the spirit, we too can be changed.
One friend also reminded us that we are not called to fulfill the peace testimony, but to renew the covenant with ourselves and with God, with each other, and with our meetings. We are committed to working for peace, to do the best we can with our limited abilities, and have faith that with our renewed covenant, God will work through us as instruments of the Spirit. After all, the height of redwood trees is supported not by the depth of their roots, but by their width, through intertwining with the roots of the forest community. By connecting with each other, by weaving a web of our commitments, support, and actions, we too can grow tall and strong.
FWCC seeks to bring together Friends throughout the world, embracing the significant cultural and theological differences among Conservative, Evangelical, FUM, FGC and unaffiliated Friends Meetings and Churches. This conference was diverse in this regard, although most of the Friends present seemed to be from liberal or FGC-affiliated meetings. The conference organizers also intentionally sought diversity in age by inviting Yearly Meetings to send Young Friends (age 18-30) and to support to their attendance. Conference organizers also sought diversity of racial, ethnic and national origin by inviting Friends of a variety backgrounds to serve as speakers and workshop leaders. The vast majority of attendees, however, appeared to be White so it seems that our Society still has much work to do in this area to be more intentionally diverse.
The Conference Mission Statement
The mission of the Conference is to gather in the spirit of prayer and openness to Divine Guidance, as a family of God spanning all traditions of Friends’ meetings and churches, to assist Friends to carry forth the peace witness in its many forms in the face of the increasing danger of wars and terrorism. Together we will study the spiritual heritage of the Peace Testimony, identify spiritual tools for strengthening it in today’s world, and prayerfully consider actions to remain faithful witnesses to Jesus’ message, “blessed are the peacemakers.”
We had an extremely busy program for our conference, with worship starting at 8:15 each morning, with events until 10:00 P.M., when late-night interest groups began. Most of our time was spent in plenary sessions of the full conference, with a wide variety of speakers from all branches of Quakerism, on themes touching on intellectual, spiritual and experiential perspectives on the peace testimony. We were able to select two workshops (out of 28 offered), and one focused discussion group (called “Open Space Technology). We had meetings of our “Home Groups” each day, which provided an opportunity for Friends to gather in small groups, meet other attendees, and share experiences through prayer, worship sharing, consideration of plenary queries, discussion, or any combination of these.
The conference held a Peace Vigil on the Saturday evening of the conference at 5:30 P.M. where we gathered at the corner of a busy intersection and held signs calling for peace. Many friends tried to hold candles as well, but the heavy wind kept blowing them out. We enjoyed a Simple Meal kindly hosted by Friends at New Garden Friends Meeting (North Carolina Yearly Meeting), followed by an evening of music and entertainment in their beautiful and historic Meetinghouse. Each evening, late-night interest groups met at the conference hotel, starting at 10:00 P.M., but our group did not attend these sessions both because of their far location relative to where we stayed as well as the late hour. We heard a report from the Quaker Middle East Working Party, a group of Friends from a variety of theological backgrounds who recently traveled to Israel/Palestine to better understand the situation there and write a report, which is expected to come out shortly.
Friday, January 17, 2003
7:30-9:15 pm – Opening Plenary: Spirit-led Peacemaking: A Sharing of Experience and Conviction
Queries: How did the Spirit lead me into peacemaking? How am I called as a Friend to answer the very real threats of terrorism and global war?
Moderators: Ann Hardt, Intermountain YM, & Rolene Walker, Pacific YM
Panelists: Max Carter, North Carolina YM
Val Liveoak, South Central YM, Seeking Paz y Luz, Peace & Light
Beyond Joy, Pacific YM, Passionate Peace Making!
Saturday, January 18, 2003
9:15-10:45 am – Second Plenary: Friends’ Biblical and Historical Experience
with the Peace Testimony
Queries: What is our Friends’ history as peacemakers? In what ways has the Bible contributed to and complicated Friends’ peacemaking? How has the Spirit shaped Friends’ efforts to bring peace and an end to violence?
What dilemmas have Friends faced – and are we still facing?
Moderator: Mary Ellen Chijioke, North Carolina YM-C
Panelists: Janet Melnyk, EF-Mid-America YM, The Biblical Basis of the Friends Peace Testimony
Larry Ingle, SAYMA, The Politics of Despair, The Quaker Peace Testimony, 1661
Ron Mock, Northwest YM, Friends’ Struggles Through the Years
Emma Lapsansky, Philadelphia YM, Friends’ Peace Testimony: A Capsule History of the Lamb’s War
1:30-3:00 pm – Third Plenary: Wrestling with the Peace Testimony
Queries: In light of recent and current global events, how have my beliefs about the historic Friends’ peace testimony been challenged, changed, or strengthened? Is the “Lamb’s War” continuing? What personal sacrifices or risks does peacemaking require of me? How might we promote better dialogue, understanding and compassion among ourselves as Friends, both pacifists and non-pacifists?
Moderator: Doug Bennett, New York YM
Panelists: Mary Lord, Baltimore YM, The Work of Peace
Jane Orion Smith, Canadian YM, In Spirit and in Trust: Wrestling with the Peace Testimony
Rubye Braye, North Carolina YM-C, War as a Last Resort – A Friend’s Reflection
Ralph Beebe, Northwest YM, Friends Witness for Peace in a Warlike World
4:00-5:30 pm Workshops
5:30-6:00 pm Candlelight Peace Vigil
6:00-9:15 pm Dinner and Evening of Entertainment with New Garden MM Friends
Michael Green, Ragtime piano intro
Max Carter, Master of Ceremonies
Logie Meachum, Quakers & the Underground Railroad
Jeff Sebens, Hammer dulcimers
Judy Haughee-Bartlett, Anne Walter-Fromson & Donna Allred, Peace songs
Deborah Shaw and the Greensboro Folk Dancers
The Friendly Gangstaz, Hip hop and rap songs from the Friends Hymnal
Sunday, January 19, 2003
1:30-5:15 pm Open Space Technology
3:45-5:15 pm Report of the Quaker Middle East Working Party
Tony Bing, Indiana YM
Max Carter, North Carolina YM
Ron Mock, Northwest YM
Helena Cobban, Baltimore YM
7:30-9:00 pm Fourth Plenary: Going to the Well / Taking Up the Cross
Queries: What sustains and strengthens peacemaking? What spiritual and practical resources help us persevere and endure so we don’t give way to despair or burn-out? What tools have I found vital and necessary on the path?
Moderator: Wilmer Tjossem, Iowa YM
Panelists: John Calvi, New England YM, Flowing Waters from the Source
Norval Hadley, EFC-Southwest YM, How the Bible Has Informed My Peacemaking
Carin Anderson & Chris Moore Backman, Pacific YM, Call of
Accompaniment: Gifts from Colombia
Rick McCutcheon, Canadian YM; A Well-placed Whisper
Monday, January 20, 2003
9:30 – noon Closing Plenary & Worship: Visioning and Empowering Peace Witness
Queries: What have we learned about ourselves as Friends in relationship to peacemaking? What are our visions as peacemakers in these troubled times? What can we say to one another and also to our wider communities in working toward lasting peace? What are our on-going struggles and growing edges and our affirmations and convictions? How might the Spirit be leading and empowering us now, especially in light of Jesus’ message, “Blessed are the peacemakers?”
Moderator: Gordon Browne, New England YM
Panelists: Deborah Fisch, Iowa YM – C
Bridget Moix, New York YM
Ben Richmond, Indiana YM
Jan Wood, Northwest YM
Notes on Specific Parts of the Program
Ann Hardt and Rolene Walker welcomed everyone. What will fill the vacuum? Anti-violence is not enough without nonviolence as well. The peaceable kingdom is at the opposite end of the continuum as violence.
Val Liveoak presented on her work for health and human rights through the church in El Salvador. Val is part of the Friends Peace Teams, and lives below the poverty line intentionally to avoid paying taxes that go towards military spending. Spent time in Sri Lanka with Sarvodaya Sharmdana in the midst of violence, but felt calm and peaceful.
Max Carter recalled getting a red-letter bible after recommitting his life to Christ at a Billy Graham revival in 6th grade. He remembers reading about the responsibility to turn the other cheek, and realized that Christians cannot fight, as it is inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus. After hearing a woman from Hiroshima speak as part of AFSC’s peace caravan, he realized that he could not be part of any structure that makes such devastation possible. Max feels the personal responsibility of Fox, to live in such a way as to remove the cause of war, and to investigate, like John Woolman, one’s possessions to see if they sow the seeds of war. Community is important in providing the leaders and models of peacemaking in order to encourage and nurture others. Getting to know one’s community and the names of those in it is a way to combat terror.
Beyond Joy reflected on his finding joy in the challenges of life. As a conscientious objector he could not get federal financial aid to college, but found numerous opportunities through the Bonner Scholarship for community service, travel, and new opportunities. Having a spiritual basis to peacemaking gives strength in times of despair.
Liberal friends tend to think of history rather than theology, and come up with lists of ideas, causes, groups, rather than missionaries and their activities. There are different ways to express the same thing and very different meanings when Friends speak of the Peace Testimony.
The Bible is used as a means to confirm faith but not to provide it, it provides excellent but uncertain directions. The spirit should be the first fountain. Biblical shalom is complete and meets all of one’s basic needs—physical and spiritual. It is connected to justice and truth (mizrah), peace is active and positive. Jesus used violence in the Bible when cleaning out the temple—protest on behalf of international goodwill to let the Gentiles in. In Matthew, Luke, and Hebrews it speaks of turning father against son, bringing division. The true vision of peace causes struggle. He cuts clean the division between truth and inauthenticity.
Quaker fuzzy peace (Ron Mock)
1. Peace testimony says we commit not to kill and will listen to the spirit—how do we know already we won’t be called to kill? How can you know God’s will?
2. We want to be separated from affairs of the state, but also are involved and active in political affairs (Mennonites and Brethren withdrew)
3. Quakers want it all, but think it’s okay
a. Peter’s dilemma-take the sword to save a friend?
b. Bonhoefer’s dilemma-kill Hitler to end violence?
c. Flight 93-bring down the plane to save those on the ground?
d. Constantine’s dilemma-should you abdicate or fight when political dilemmas—protect neighbors or protect enemies?
Do you see terrorism prevented or eschew violence even if terror slips by?
Iraq and the Samaritan story: Iraqi people are the ones in the ditch (Saddam beat them up)
The Pharisee passes them by because they were not responsible for beating them up. Some times pacifists do this in their pains to not harm enemies. If we let Iraqis suffer and others until they despair, they may turn to terrorism. Is Rambo or the Pharisee closer to help? Samaritan takes risks, changes life to help the man in the ditch and risk the evils of the robbers. Work to end the evil of robbery without leading to more.
Can we work with others with different methods? Terror and tyranny are both evils, how can we oppose them both nonviolently. We can only resolve by acting, need a massive nonviolent incursion, put in our resources to prevent both.
e. Jesus’ dilemma-Satan’s temptations
His primary obligation was to serve God, not temporal power or to free world of hunger. Do not test God—what can evil gain from proving God exists? Need faith. Jesus put the success of a world saving mission into the hands of others—delegates rather than taking short cuts and doing it all himself. We are all called to try not necessarily to succeed.
Woolman spoke with the people in his own community before going on the road. We see problems ‘out there’ but we need to begin with the problems ‘in here.’ Peace is an action, a road not a destination. Peacemaking is complicated, it is not clear and is hard to do. Need to be sympathetic and approachable to our neighbors and enemies and trust the divine will prevail. Taking the sword off is a process and a struggle and we need to keep ties to the Quakers who are not where we are.
Third Plenary: Wrestling with the Peace Testimony
After Jacob wrestled with the angel he 1) Changed his name and identity, 2) was blessed; 3) limped-carried the burden of change in his body. The peace testimony is practical and the depths of God’s wisdom.
Three periods of Iraqi war: 1) Persian Gulf; 2) sanctions and bombings; 3) current phase. There will be refugees, need for hygiene kits, peacekeeping forces. There is a burden of being consistent in Quakerism—FCNL is seen as the plumbline for other groups to follow. The world looks to Friends for consistency and to give the base line—this is a burden Quakers as God’s yeast, small and working at the borders for change.
Jane Orion Smith:
My faith is with Jesus, not with the peace testimony. Credalization of the peace testimony is dangerous, let Jesus speak to us and seek spiritually, finding it through worship and not just advocating intellectually.
Micah 6:8-kindness, justness, attentiveness to God, from these peace will flow. Systems that sustain colonialism and injustice, rhetoric of anti-terrorism used to suppress legitimate consent. Look to the roots of terrorism, tied to economic lusts. The roots of the conflict are in where we live and how. Love and educate others, live a life worthy of one’s calling. If we refuse to face the conflict we cannot create peace.
The bottom line is this: Stop listening to talking heads and reading the editorials, but listen to the spirit and do what it says. We need to work inside ourselves.
1) Get still to listen to God; 2) Test the Spirit against others; 3) Get busy doing the work you are called to do.
How can we promote dialogue among each other? Evangelicals and Liberals have stereotypes of one another. Don’t throw out Christ because you don’t like what’s done in his name. Need to return to following the Prince of Peace. Need a spiritual basis and also need to stay way from Jerry Falwell.
Saturday Workshop: Loving without Giving In: Some Christian Ideas on Combating Terrorism, Led by Ron Mock, Director forCenter for Peace Learning, George Fox University
This workshop was excellent. Ron presented ideas from his forthcoming book by the same title as the workshop. He put forth his thoughts about characteristics of non-state terrorists, and some corresponding ideas about how to address terrorism peacefully. He said that there are spiritual and political aspects of non-state terrorism. The two spiritual aspects he described are that terrorists have both a corrosive grievance and dehumanizing hatred. He described a corrosive grievance as an injustice that creates bitterness which burns its way to the core of the person and distorts his or her perceptions. He stated that the dehumanizing hatred makes terrorists see people not as individuals but as tools. He said the tool is the fear terrorists can create in others. Ron also described two political aspects of non-state terrorists: political despair coupled with the myth that violence is effective.
Ron suggested some ways to address terrorism, using this description as a starting point:
ØCorrosive grievance and dehumanizing hatred: address with love and empathetic listening, with peacebuilding and reconciliation of relationships
ØPolitical despair: address by encouraging democracy and giving people a voice
ØMyth of effective violence: address by not giving into terrorist demands
Unfortunately, we did not have time to delve very deeply into these ideas, and Ron noted that there is tension among them. For instance, how does one respond with love and reconciliation while also not giving into terrorist demands? One thing he suggested was talking to and building relationships with those who support terrorists rather than the terrorists themselves.
There was lots of interesting discussion and some other content as well, but this material was at the heart of the presentation. One Friend did ask the question regarding what characteristics would describe state terrorism. We didn’t get an answer, but one thought occurred to this Friend – that on the spiritual side, perhaps the characteristics are corrosive greed and dehumanizing arrogance. Don’t know how well that idea might hold up under deeper reflection.
Saturday Workshop: Friends and Peacekeeping Forces, Led by Helena Cobban, Foreign Affairs Columnist for the Christian Science Monitor
The impetus for the workshop topic largely comes out the Quaker Middle East Working Party’s experience with Palestinians and Israelis needing a physical presence to separate them and protect Palestinians from the military might of the Israelis. Canadian Friends could not support the Working Party’s Epistle due to its suggested need for international peacekeeping forces.
The group wrestled with the role of previous UN peace-keeping forces in East Timor, where the UN was successful in persuading Indonesia to pull out of East Timor, where they had been committing horrendous human rights violations after the 1999 Timorese referendum. In Rwanda, however, despite the repeated request for a proper mandate and a peace-keeping force of 10,000, Kofi Annan refused additional support to the peace-keeping forces, and as a result they were unable to stop the genocide. Further the Hutu government recognized that if they killed Belgian peace-keepers, the Belgian government would withdraw their troops, thereby permitting the Rwandan government to do as they wished. Despite their limited size of 1200, the UN peacekeepers were able to rescue 25,000 Tutsis in the Peace Stadium; however, if more troops had been in the area, they could have stopped the genocide and sent a powerful message to the Rwandan government.
One Friend noted necessary changes for peace-keeping to be more effective and more in line with Quaker beliefs. First, peace-keeping needs to be more than a conglomeration of soldiers from a variety of different countries who have different training, different languages, and who are subject to the whims of their home governments. Second, peace-keepers need a different set of skills than traditional soldiers, as their role involves more police-type work than fighting. Finally, the UN is controlled largely by the U.S. and the Security Council, which limits the use of peace-keeping forces, since the Great Powers have their own agenda. Smaller countries are generally more supportive of peace-keeping missions.
Friends were informed that peace-keeping forces must be accepted by both conflict parties, and that peace-keepers are sent to enforce a peace accord. Currently peace-keeping teams are in place around the world, in places like Cyprus, but most receive very little international attention. Several other Friends voiced their concern that peace-keeping was left with the military, rather than with radical transformative groups like Christian Peacemaker Teams CPT). Other challenges were raised regarding the control of UN peacekeeping forces. Who controls them? Who decides what troops go where and do what? A further issue arose over the many UN resolutions which are not enforced, and a Friend suggested it would be better to follow up on such resolutions and thereby work preventively rather than wait to respond to conflicts once they are in need of crisis management.
Beyond the issue of force governance and the need for peace-keeping forces to be democratically accountable to those being policed, one Friend raised the challenge of obtaining peace-keeping mandates, and receiving proper troops and equipment to carry out the mission. Further, it is hard to pull out once peace-keepers are in place. Civilians are usually those trained for the development and human rights work peace-keepers are asked to do, and Friends discussed the possibility of having rosters of civilians with skills in policing, monitoring, and development who could perform needed tasks instead of military forces. Any successful interventions, however, require appropriate scale, financial resources, and political will, and since the experiences of the 1990s, state governments and the UN are wary.
As one Friend suggested, Quakers are good at the long prevention process before conflict and the peace-building work afterwards, and perhaps Friends should focus on our strengths, as intervening in hostile situations is the hardest time and the easiest in which to fail. Unarmed NGO or Quaker monitors could serve as eyes and ears to let the world know what is going on, otherwise conflict can continue without any notice. Post Cold-War conflicts are more challenging for peace-keeping and peace-building operations since intrastate conflicts often involve failed states and social chaos on all sides, and in places like Kosovo outside assistance is needed to create order, rebuild institutions, retrain soldiers, and manage refugees. Traditional peace-keeping work was between states and often involved literally positioning UN forces between two governments while they worked out the border.
Friend consistently mentioned the need for more preventive work, for early-warning mechanisms rather than band-aids. Merely acting as an international presence can have an effect on a situation, as witnesses are needed to inform others of the danger signs. Groups like CPT, Witness for Peace, and Peace Brigades International were all mentioned. A major challenge to the push for prevention is that states have militaries they can deploy, not peace forces, and with limited resources it is hard to convince states to spend money for a process that is largely invisible and brings little tangible political benefit. Having a Department of Peace or a Defense Department devoted to preventing killing rather than killing could have a huge impact, since numerous opportunities for peaceful intervention exist, and with sufficient numbers and adequate communication with the international community, peace-keepers do not have to be armed to deter genocidal violence.
Throughout the workshop Friends tended to discuss alternatives to peace-keeping more than Friends’ position on peace-keeping forces per se, but several Friends believe that armed forces are inconsistent with Friends’ peace testimony. Other Friends, however, conclude that peace-keeping forces can have a positive impact on world peace and can do so in a non-violent manner provided they are present in adequate numbers, have an appropriate mandate, and are backed by sufficient political will.
Saturday Workshop: The Peace Witness Movement, Led by David Hartsough, Co-Director of the Nonviolent Peaceforce
The Nonviolent Peaceforce is an experiment with the power of nonviolence, founded three and a half years ago by nonviolent activists who came together in the Hague, the Netherlands. It is based on similar efforts by Peace Brigades International (PBI), and the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), in that it uses the model of accompaniment of human rights activists in areas of conflict. It is based on the belief that there is something more effective to ensure peace than military intervention. The vision is to build a “nonviolent army,” based on the thinking of Mahatma Gandhi, to go into areas of conflict, where they have been invited by local peacemakers. The requirement for local involvement is because local activists generally understand the conflict better, but may need outside assistance due to feeling isolated and/or threatened. Outside peacemakers can provide moral support and show that the international community is watching, which may cause death threats to stop.
David spoke about the example of Guatemala in 1985, there were was a genocide going on. Peace Brigades International was asked by local activists to accompany them 24 hours a day in order to keep people alive, which was the first time such a significant request was made of them. This type of accompaniment would give the activists the courage to speak out on what was being done by the government. A similar example is Nicaragua in the 1980’s. In 1983, Witness for Peace was founded, where people lived in Nicaragua and spoke out against the violence there. About 2000 people lived there for periods of 2-3 weeks each over the course of the time of the violence. When they were there, attacks would slow or cease in those areas. Another example was Kosovo in 1996-1998, where there was a truly active and vibrant nonviolent movement among the Albanians. David believes that if there has been 200, trained people ready to accompany and protect nonviolent activists there, that perhaps war could have been averted. We need a better way to respond to true threats of violence in the world. There are many other places around the world where the strength of nonviolence has been shown, including the Phillipines, India and Japan.
The idea of the Nonviolent Peaceforce is to get 200 people together, trained in nonviolence, to respond to situations of conflict. There are already lots of offices and representatives of this organization throughout the world, many of which are in the “two-thirds” world, or the Global South. There are many lessons which can be learned from other previous peacework that has been done. More than 7,000 people per month are currently visiting the web site of Nonviolent Peaceforce. The National Presbyterian Church has endorse the movement. Nonviolent Peaceforce expects to collaborate closely with other similar groups, including Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), PBI, FOR and others.
An international organizing conference was recently held for the the Nonviolent Peaceforce, where more than 130 people attended from over 47 countries. The conference was held in New Delhi, India, and elected an international governing Board for the organization, which is more than 50% representative of the Global South. The international conference also selected Sri Lanka as the site for its first Pilot Project, from 12-13 places around the world that had invited Nonviolent Peaceforce to begin its work. George Lakey is leading an internatioanl team of trainers which is currently working to develop a curriculum of nonviolent training of one month in length, which will be required of all prospective members of the Nonviolent Peaceforce. The training will be followed by an in-country orientation in the area of conflict. The 1-month training for the Sri Lanka pilot project will begin in June 2003. The current annual budget allocated is $2.5 million. The Nonviolent Peaceforce hopes to become a highly professional force of nonviolent peacemakers and therefore would like to be pay able to pay full peacemakers full-time.
The goal is to be able to provide accompaniment for whole villages, and also to provide “inter-positioning”, or literally getting in the way in conflict situations. They also expect to provide monitoring services, for example after a cease-fire has been reached as it has in Sri Lanka.
One of the lessons learned in previous situations is to try to be truly international, and not to replicate imperialism in the peace-making movement by having the rich North tell the poor South what to do and how to do it. The Nonviolent Peaceforce will operate with no strings attached to it, and will not accept money from governmental sources. They are in need of skilled people, people who are already peacemakers in their own communities are and active users of nonviolence.
Things people can do to help this movement include: stay in touch (register on the web site), give money, help to find donors for this effort, ask your organization to endorse or become a member of the movement, do outreach to constituencies, show the movie A Force More Powerful at your community of faith (a movie that shows six examples of how successful nonviolent struggle around the world caused momentous change), prepare for the movement by getting nonviolent training. Sources for this include: Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) Training, Training for Change in Philadelphia, the Mennonite Church in Virginia, an organization called Contact in Vermont, CPT, Friends Peace Teams, PBI, etc. David set forth a goal, challenging every Friends Meeting to send and support at least one person from their community to go forth on a peace team, so that we all better understand what the rest of the world looks like.
Sunday Workshop: People Power Revolution in the Philippines, Led by Baltazar Pinguel, National Coordinator for the Peacebuilding Demilitarization Program & Network of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Bal was part of a group of student activists at the University of Philippines. The U.S. had its largest airbase at the Clark Airbase in the Philippines until 1991. There was even a branch of the student activist movement in the base. The military bases on the Philippines took up as much area as all of Singapore.
The student nationalist, anti-imperialist movement was supported by the U.S. anti-war movement (Vietnam). They wanted full independence and sovereignty. Since the U.S. used the Philippines as a take off spot for bombing Vietnam, and soldiers could go bomb and come back for a drink and a prostitute before bombing again, the anti-war activists and the anti-imperialists had a common cause. The Civil Rights movement also influenced the movement as it was a model for asserting more democratic freedom. The Philippines had been under martial law from 1972-1986—there was military rule and the constitution was suspended.
The People Power came in 1986 when martial law was ended after days of people coming out to protest for democracy, human rights, and against MNCs. The protest was covered daily by CNN. Religious people carried statures of the virgin in the face of military force. After 4 days Marcos regime was ended. The people were determined to change an unjust situation and risk their lives, convinced that violence wouldn’t work.
The people power revolution worked because of a long study of non-violent strategy before February 1986. It was all done secretly because the universities were closed; all student, religious, civil society groups were illegal. The process of building a movement requires:
This means raising the consciousness of people so they understand the situation and why it needs to be changed, and how to move the conditions within the social structure. It involves internal education re how to be effective trainers and activists and also external public info to bring understanding to the mass movement (80%).
2. Constituency Building:
This means building the main base of the movement and creating sources of energy. There are three main sub-steps. First is identifying who is most affected in the population and drawing them in. This includes class and gender analysis, and identifying ethnic groups who are sick of the situation. Second is organizing these affected people, by creating and building organizations. These organizations need to have a leadership body, a vision, mission, program, and create an ethos, culture and training to sustain leaders. Third is coalition and alliance building. Not all organizations have the capacity to do things, but if there is an alliance and coalition then you can draw on each others’ resources.
3. Mass mobilization:
This means using nonviolent methods of mass action and mass campaigns. Bal defined mass action as short events like vigils, rallies, demonstrations and one-day strikes. He defined mass campaigns as actions which are sustained over time such as a boycott.
How can AFSC help with a mobilization? It can project the voice by working on constituency building and to talk with those who are vulnerable, without papers. They can also help build coalitions to connect people to the base
US empire and military bases all over the world. Christianity came out and helped defeat the decadence of the Roman Empire from within. Cromwellian revolution also overthrew the empire from within. All over the U.S. is lifting arms sale restrictions to those helping us fight ‘terror’ or join our coalition (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Colombia, India, Central Asia). Nonviolence worked in the Philippines but was reversed because the system was changed. In 1991 People Power removed the US military bases, but later they were put back in. In 2001 they overthrew Estrada—problem is that keep having to over throw regimes—even if people want change, if the outside larger force wants it differently (i.e. US power), it will go back to square one.
Need to work on the empire from within the U.S. for peace and justice movement to stop the US imperialism.
Melissa Elliot-AFSC Iraq
AFSC has been working on Iraq since the Gulf War. Look at the sanctions as warfare. AFSC is working to get groups in there before war breaks out, and use relief programs to do education as well as deliver material aid. Lots of coalition work with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). AFSC has a type of credibility because its been working so long on the issue, and the work has changed from sanctions/humanitarianism crisis—feel war is coming out of this.
Campaign of Conscience has a development aspect to it with water treatment centers. There is a high level of fear in the Arab population and Black Muslim population and need to deal with these issues of repression and fear. Hesitant to be involved in any protests or events. How does racial and economic justice play into a peace movement? With limited resources it is hard to decide how to allocate time and energy.
Nonviolence is key to any movement. Need to erode systems of hegemony like media. Diminish the consent of media, schools, religions and end the legitimacy of the government. Once consent goes down the roof will fall in. Need for local people to make connections with international organizations to help spread the word. International solidarity movements have a great impact by bringing energy and support to people, also by providing compassion and spreading the word at home.
Sunday Workshop: Quaker Peacemaking in Africa’s First World War, Led by David Zarembka, Coordinator, Friends Peace Teams’ African Great Lakes Initiative and Crystal Waitekus, Intern, Friends Peace Teams’ African Great Lakes Initiative
I chose to attend this workshop in part because in a previous worship sharing at the conference, David Zarembka spoke out of the silence, calling upon Friends to respond to the unbelievable genocides, war and violence that have occurred and continue to occur in the Great Lakes region of Africa, where the largest number of the global Quaker population resides. I was very moved by his message, and by my own lack of knowledge about what has happened and is happening in this part of the world where so many Friends reside.
David provided a handout containing shocking statistics about the numbers of fatalities in the wars that have been occuring in Eastern Africa for the past twenty years, ranging from 250,000 dead in Burundi to 2.5 million dead in Congo-Kinshasa. By way of comparison, his chart notes that there were 1.1 million casualties in the U.S. Civil War. The total number of people killed in recent years in Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa and Angola is 8 million, persausive evidence for referring to this tragedy as Africa’s First World War. The handout also lists the number of Quakers in various countries in the region, ranging from 1,300 in Eastern Congo up to 130,000 in Kenya. Burundi has 13,000 Quakers, Rwanda has 5,000, Uganda has 3,500 and Tanzania has 2,500 Friends. Each country has at least one Yearly Meeting, while Uganda and Tanzania have two and Kenya has 14. Nearly all of these Quakers are affiliated with either Friends United Meeting (FUM) or Evangelical Friends International (EFI), although there is a small, unprogrammed meeting in Kinshasa.
The workshop began with an overview of the history of the violence in this region, then discussed the history and presence of Quakerism in the Eastern Africa, and lastly turned to the current projects of the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) of Friends Peace Teams (FPT), which, it should be noted, is administered through Baltimore Yearly Meeting. David spoke of the incredibly violent and destructive Interhamwe force, a rebel group of mercenaries or trained killers that are now fighting and sowing seeds of violence in most East African nations. This situation is not very well known in the United States at present. They have caused massive displacement, and the signficant fighting and instability contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the region because there is no strong public health infrastructure. He emphasized that sometimes Western donors can get it backwards, and work to try to fight AIDS without first addressing the underlying instability and violence that allows for it to continue to spread unabated.
David stated that FGC Quakers have had virtually no contact with these East African Friends over the years. FUM has now withdrawn most of its presence and contacts with Kenyan Quakers, as they no longer perceive a need for continued mission work there. EFI started in Burundi in 1934, and contacts continue between EFI and Friends there. Quakerism in Rwanda has truly been a unique and revolutionary movement because it has been one of the few places that specifically invited Hutus and Tutsis to work together in the same church, with equal positions of leadership, etc.
There are massive social problems in many of these countries, including very large numbers of orphaned children, whos parents have been killed either through war, AIDS or other causes. The fact is that nearly every adult is caring for one or more orphans who are not their biological children. In a Uganda EFI-affiliated Meeting for example, 300 adults in the Meeting care for 97 orphans. In Africa, for the most part, the ability to achieve a successful life has depended in large part on assistance and support of family members. Therefore, orphans are at a significant disadvantage without such family ties. In Burundi, less than 25% of the children are able to attend schools. In the Congo, there is currently no functioning educational system for children.
AGLI has many exciting projects ongoing, but is in need of additional funding to continue and expand them. One project was the founding of the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Service (THARS) in Burundi, which is working with 23 leaders of Quaker churches to train them to work with and provide counseling services to victims of trauma (such as war, loss of family, etc.). THARS has opened so far one of five planned Listening Centers, where trauma victims and others will be able to receive private counseling. There is currently only one professional, trained psychologist in all of Burundi and his services would be financially inaccessible to the vast majority of Burundians. THARS is currently being coordinated by David Niyonzima, Clerk of Burundi Friends Meeting, who has a Master’s in Counseling from George Fox University in Oregon. AGLI also curretnly has two new THARS Team Members from the United States who are in the process of relocating to Burundi to continue this work. An additional member who has experience in trauma helaing, clinical supervision, social work or related fields is being sought for a position starting in September 2003.
Another project is to provide Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) training in Rwanda. After the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which 750,000 people were killed in 90 days, there were 120,000 people put in prison for suspected involvement with the genocide. The Rwandan judicial system was destroyed during the genocide, and it still has not yet recovered enough to be able to deal with the large number of suspects. The Rwandan government therefore decided to resurrect the traditional village court system, called a “gacaca” in Kiyarwandan (the indigenous language of Rwanda). There are 9,000 gacaca courts throughout the country now that are beginning to try those suspected of playing minor roles in the genocide (those accused of major roles are tried in the international war crimes tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania).
AGLI has already trained 15 AVP facilitators in Rwanda, and plans to conduct five AVP workshops with soon-to-be-released prisoners to facilitate their return to society and help them deal with any violent thoughts or behaviors they may still have. When AGLI and AFSC representatives visited the gacacas, they were asked to also consider holding AVP workshops for the local judges who would sit on the gacacas. AGLI is planning to do this, starting on a small scale, as soon as funds are available to support this work. AVP is also extending to Burundi and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Open Space Technology: Worship Time
During this “open space” time, we had the option of either leading or attending a discussion on a subject of interest to us, or attending extended worship. This Friend attended the Open Worship, and was deeply grateful for the time, as there had been so much external input with the presentations and workshops.
One impetus for the worship time was a hope some had that we might create a minute as a sort of summary of the conference work. Many people spoke and the Clerk proposed that she might create a minute summarizing not the whole conference, but main themes form the worship, but Friends were not able to approve her doing so in the time we had. Of course, this Friend was not taking notes and so, has no way of remembering and summarizing all that was shared. Suffice it to say that the worship time was both rich and stimulating.
There were four national consultations in the U.S. before creating the working group. What are Friends called to do? Shared ideas and learned from communities. Sent a mix of Friends to go the mideast and report back (14 people). All found it profoundly disturbing. Replay of 1948, the Catastrophe. Cities are closed to all, internationals as well. West Bank divided into Bantustans, the economy is destroyed as is the social fabric, roads are blockaded and trenches surround cities. There is fear, disruption, and confusion in the Israeli public.
The working party struggles to deal with the disproportionality, how can you be compassionate to both sides. Admire the courage of those actively working for peace and justice—Palestinians and Israelis—for mental, social health, keeping at it in the face of challenge without despair. Friends can help promote nonviolent efforts. Problem is that can’t get people together to do nonviolent action; more public calls for nonviolence, but also psychological and political barriers to do being besieged. There is a breakdown in communication and it makes it hard to get beyond fear and stereotypes.
There is a great difficulty in moving forward and making any progress on anything when there are barriers to movement. This will have a big impact on humanitarian services because can’t get food and supplies to those in need. Problem of needing to unload and move trucks several times through as many as 6 zones to get produce and supplies from one place to another. There have been a series of Quaker reports on the middle east. 1969 Landrum Bolling wrote “Search for Peace,” and in the 1980s “Compassionate Peace” was published. They are thinking of “Beyond Silence” and will focus on more abstract principles such as human equality; creating a forum for equal say by all Israelis, Palestinians, and refugees (stateless ones); and nonviolence.
Fears in the region: Lebanon and Jordan fear being toppled if US invades Iraq. Also fear of ethnic cleansing and transfer. Plan A: regional war under cover could transfer Palestinians out as security risks. Plan B: make life so horrible that they voluntarily leave (150,000 at least left because of economy). Now the mainstream is talking about transfer, not just the far right. This shows the depth of Jewish fear.
Recent Human Rights Watch report on suicide bombings. Arafat has regularly denounced it, groups he nominally controls are taking part. But Israel is not letting Arafat have a command structure and can’t let him out of his offices, so he can’t control them and put them all down. Soon a group from FUM of about 25 superintendents will go over to see what’s going on and to visit the Quaker schools.
Nonviolent groups need support, feel they are under threat if working for peace. Help make connections with the economic and space and support to other resources and networks. Need to build civil society within Palestinian society. Let people know what nonviolent work is happening—both Israelis and Palestinians appealed to the outside world for international help in nonviolent work. Bat Shalom wants peace but also fear. Schizophrenia of Jewish population. 70% for Sharon; 70% against settlements; 70% for a Palestinian state if nonviolent means used.
Issue of the fence and destruction of olive groves and the pain of uprooting trees. Role of accompaniment programs like CPT. Israeli government has cancelled work permits for humanitarian groups working in the West Bank and Gaza so no one can see what is happening. FOR (Fellowship of Reconciliation) was detained and denied entry. Very real threats against lives of Women in Black activists.
90% of AFSC funds come from non-Friends; bridge the gap to closet peacemakers. Grace and light cannot be scheduled. Don’t let the noise of the world take away contact with the divine. If can’t work with humor, can’t do work to the best capability. Claim your eccentricities and claim your pain, learn what you need to do your work…be proud of them and embrace them. Quakerism and marriage. Both take time and energy and unpacking, but at first there’s lots of excitement and exuberance.
It’s okay to have conflict and enemies, but need to love them. Know we can’t do it all on our own and so need Jesus to guide us and give support. What we can do:
1. Remain strong for negotiation and mediation as alternatives to violence
2. Watch for any other alternatives to violence
3. Pray for guidance
Spent 12 years working to end war with Iraq. Have conducted war for 12 years under our noses and we don’t see it. People are involved only when there’s bombing. Wendell Barry quote—have to keep vision and carry on regardless of what success might be. Inner light—mode of whisper—need to listen for them—these whispers are universal. Like holding a child, in bed with one’s partner, the meanings and beauty of whisper.
Various types of movement:
1. Beautiful mindfulness—be quiet and still enough to hear it inside of us (Thich Nhat Thanh). Try to keep center so we can hear whispers given by others
2. Hear clearly and it is transformative—listen to others
3. Take whispers deeply inside of us and let their transformative energy work in us
4. Take whispers to others in community
Cultivate practice, then begin to hear whispers of the suffering around the world. Children in Palestine and Iraq, these whispers sustain him. “Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise” –Alice Walker
Carin Anderson and Chris—Colombia:
Beautiful musicians. Worked in accompaniment program in La Reunion. Nonviolent resistance to guerilla forces. Refuse to collaborate, leave or be killed. Declared village one of peace and neutrality. Rely on the support and attention of the international community. The accompaniment was spiritually restorative and centering. Colombian friends sustained them. Need to shed material things to get closer to people they are in relationship with. John Woolman and his clothing…the lifestyle of Americans is helping create bloodshed and oppression.
Closing Plenary: Visioning and Empowering Peace Witness Among Friends
Fear is the capability of overwhelmingness of task—we cannot hear the whisper if we have fear. Being clumsy is enough . Every moment be present to the reality we are in and be open to your leadings. Reconcile reality to the goodness of God. Accept the reality of who we are—it’s enough. Cut through the weariness and cynicism and return to the good news—it’s a joy to be part of a community of faith.
Need to invite others to join us in community. There is a tension between peace and justice—do we risk walking around wounded? Are we arming the robber? Nonviolent intervention is important—accompaniment, monitoring, peace teams
1. every meeting sponsor a peace team delegate
2. attention to think through the implications of faith and the peace testimony
3. military only one implication of war—matters of lifestyle and possessions—we need to be held accountable.
Friends are rooted in faith and loveàthat brings out peace, simplicity, integrity, community. All need to be fruitful, need to nurture the root and spend time in quiet to listen to the voice and then act. Early friends went to meeting expecting to be changed, they lay their burdens at the door and wrestled with God every day. We need to listen and share with each other. Need encouragement after discerning with our community. Redwood tress grow wide and connect with others…their roots are not super deep but are intertwined…the power of community supports tallness. Be willing to risk. The time is coming and is now...it’s always been coming and now is where we are. Do what God calls us to do…it may be tending the fire. Not all are called to the edge. We are sent home with resolve, hope and joy, not papers.
1. corporate decisions and individual conscience
2. work against injustice but love our enemies
3. feel we are not up to the task and yet know we must do it
4. want to transform world and know we need to do so in our selves
clues we may have faltered with God’s/Fox’s covenant for peace. Need to renew the covenant to be faithful to uncertainty. This is a struggle. We need this covenant as a community, not just as individuals. We’re not being called to fulfill the peace testimony. We are being called to renew it.
Additional Notes on the Closing Plenary
Ben Richmond: perhaps every Meeting should sponsor a member to be on a short term peace team annually or sponsor a long term peace team member.
ØEarly Friends were so energized as a people of God who spoke to the world because they went to Meeting expecting to be changed – and they were.
ØCommunity is like a grove of redwood trees. The trees are tall but their roots are not deep. Rather, their roots are wide and blend with one another – that’s what makes them strong.
ØWe are not all called to the “edge,” but we spend a lot of time worrying we will be. Instead of worrying, listen to the spirit and be faithful to your piece. If you are called to tend the fire, tend the fire! If you are called to the edge, go!
We are called to renew our covenant of peace and hope, individually and corporately, with God and each other. We must continue to struggle and commit ourselves to be faithful to uncertainty and paradoxical truth (not because we are sure or clear).
Some paradoxes she mentioned:
ØWe want to change the world, and we know we must start with ourselves and our community.
ØWe know we are not up to the task, and know we must do it.
ØWe value our individual consciences, and we value corporate decision making.
ØWe feel responsible for a better world and we feel complicit in the evil of the world.
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