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Our principle is, and our practices have
always been, to seek peace, and ensue it, and to
follow after righteousness and the knowledge of
God, seeking the good and welfare, and doing that
which tends to the peace of all. All bloody
principles and practices we do utterly deny, with
all outward wars, and strife, and fightings with
outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence
whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole
world. The spirit of Christ by which we are guided
is not changeable, so as once to command us from a
thing as evil, and again to move unto it; and we do
certainly know, and so testify to the whole world,
that the spirit of Christ which leads us into all
Truth will never move us to fight and war against
any man with outward weapons, neither for the
kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of the
And as for the kingdoms of this world, we cannot covet them, much less can we fight for them, but we do earnestly desire and wait, that by the word of God's power and its effectual operation in the hearts of men the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ, that he may rule and reign in men by his spirit and truth, that thereby all people, out of all different judgments and professions might be brought into love and unity with God and one another, and that they might all come to witness the prophet's words, who said, "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more". (Is 2:4, Mic 4:3)
Quaker declaration to Charles II, 1661
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.
I have seen the last line quoted both with and without the "to ourselves". To me it seems more in keeping with the rest of the prayer to include it, but I have not found conclusive evidence one way or the other as to its historical accuracy.
There is a spirit which I feel, that delights to
do no evil, nor to avenge any wrong, but delights to
endure all things in hope to enjoy its own in the end.
Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to
weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of
a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all
temptations. As it bears no evil in itself, so it
conceives none in thought to any other: if it be
betrayed, it bears it; for its ground and spring are
the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is
meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned, and
takes its kingdom with entreaty, and not with
contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God
alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it, or
can own its life.
James Naylor, 1660
Whoever can reconcile this, 'Resist not
evil', with 'Resist violence by force', again,
'Give also thy other cheek', with 'Strike again';
also, 'Love thine enemies', with 'Spoil them, make
a prey of them, pursue them with fire and the
sword', or, 'Pray for those that persecute you, and
those that calumniate you', with 'Persecute them by
fines, imprisonments and death itself', whoever, I
say, can find a means to reconcile these things may
be supposed also to have found a way to reconcile
God with the Devil, Christ with Antichrist, Light
with Darkness, and good with evil. But if this be
impossible, as indeed it is impossible, so will
also the other be impossible, and men do but
deceive both themselves and others, while they
boldly adventure to establish such absurd and
Robert Barclay, 1678
Meeting at a time when the nations of Europe
are engaged in a war of unparalleled magnitude, we
have been led to recall the basis of the peace
testimony of our religious Society. It is not
enough to be satisfied with a barren negative
witness, a mere proclamation of non-resistance. We
must search for a positive, vital, constructive
message. Such a message, a message of supreme love,
we find in the life and death of our Lord Jesus
Christ. We find it in the doctrine of the
indwelling Christ, that re-discovery of the early
Friends, leading as it does to a recognition of the
brotherhood of all men.
Of this doctrine our testimony as to war and peace is a necessary outcome, and if we understand the doctrine aright, and follow it in its wide implications, we shall find that it calls to the peaceable spirit and the rule of love in all the broad and manifold relations of life.
Thus while love, joy, peace, gentleness and holiness are the teaching of the life and death of our Lord, it is to these that we are also impelled by the indwelling of the Divine in men. As this spirit grows within us, we shall realise increasingly what it is to live in the virtue of that life and power which takes away the occasion of all wars.
London Yearly Meeting, 1915
Nations are not thugs. They are bodies of
intelligent people. Their claims and causes and
charges are either just or unjust. They would
practically never push their claims, causes and
charges to extreme issue if they were met with
kindness, intelligence and wisdom by the nation
with whom they are in dispute. In any case,
fighting will not settle whether the claims were
just or unjust. It will only settle which nation
can mobilize and handle its fighting forces and its
economic forces the better. When the war ends, it
will be found that there was an equal amount of
"thuggery" practiced on both sides, that terrible
things were done to force the final victory.
Multitudes of innocent persons will have suffered.
The little children of the two countries will be
the main victims. Lands will be made desolate.
Social progress will be arrested. The poor will be
swamped with taxes for an entire generation. The
mutilated men will drag out a broken life to the
end of their days. A large part of the "facts" used
to arouse patriotism and to stir the fervour and
the fierceness of the fighting spirit will be
discovered to have been "propaganda". And yet not
one single thing will have been done to determine
where right or justice or truth lay in the issues
Rufus Jones 'Faith and Practice of the Quakers'
But Friends' peace testimony is not a creed,
in the sense of a statement of belief true for all
time. Nor is it a code of behavior, a set of rules
to which all Quakers individually and corporately
must adhere. On the simplest level, "testimony"
means "bearing witness" and Friends' long heritage
of witnessing to peace can be found in public
statements and personal reflections, in their
refusal to bear arms in times of civil and
international conflict, in acts of prophetic
confrontation and of quiet, reconciling diplomacy.
But these are merely outward and visible signs of
inward conviction. This conviction springs from a
living Spirit, mediated through the human
experience of those trying to understand and follow
its leadings. It grows afresh in every life, in
every worshipping group, in every generation.
At the heart of this conviction is Friends' experience that there is something of God -- the seed of the Spirit -- in all people. Quakers believe that more can be accomplished by appealing to this capacity for love and goodness, in ourselves and in others, than can be hoped for by threatening punishment or retaliation if people act badly. This is not to ignore the existence of evil. It is to recognize that there is no effective way to combat evil with weapons which harm or kill those through whom evil is working. We must turn instead, in the words of early Friends, to the "weapons of the spirit," allowing God to reach out through us to that of God in those with whom we are in conflict. "Spiritual weapons"-- love, truthsaying, nonviolence, imagination, laughter -- are weapons that heal and don't destroy.
Mary Lou Leavitt, a pamphlet published by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
We totally oppose all wars, all preparation
for war, all use of weapons and coercion by force,
and all military alliances: no end could ever
justify such means. We equally and actively oppose
all that leads to violence among people and
nations, and violence to other species and to our
planet. This has been our testimony to the whole
world for over three centuries.
We are not naive or ignorant about the complexity of our modern world and the impact of sophisticated technologies-but we see no reason whatsoever to change or weaken our vision of the peace that everyone needs in order to survive and flourish on a healthy, abundant earth.
The primary reason for this stand is our conviction that there is that of God in every one which makes each person too precious to damage or destroy. While someone lives, there is always the hope of reaching that of God within them: such hope motivates our search to find nonviolent resolution of conflict ....
There is no guarantee that our resistance will be any more successful or any less risky than military tactics. At least our means will be suited to our end. If we seemed to fail finally, we would still rather suffer and die than inflict evil in order to save ourselves and what we hold dear. If we succeed, there is no loser or winner, for the problem that led to conflict will have been resolved in a spirit of justice and tolerance. Such a resolution is the only guarantee that there will be no further outbreak of war when each side has regained strength ....
The places to begin acquiring the skills and maturity and generosity to avoid or to resolve conflicts are in our own homes, our personal relationships, our schools, our workplaces, and wherever decisions are made. We must relinquish the desire to own other people, to have power over them, and to force our views on to them. We must own up to our own negative side and not look for scapegoats to blame, punish, or exclude. We must resist the urge towards waste and the accumulation of possessions.
Conflicts are inevitable and must not be repressed or ignored but worked through painfully and carefully. We must develop the skills of being sensitive to oppression and grievances, sharing power in decision making, creating consensus, and making reparation.
In speaking out, we acknowledge that we ourselves are as limited and as erring as anyone else. When put to the test, we each may fall short. We do not have a blueprint for peace .... In any particular situation, a variety of personal decisions could be made with integrity. We may disagree with the views and actions of the politician or the soldier who opts for a military solution, but we still respect and cherish that person.
What we call for in this statement is a commitment to make the building of peace a priority and to make opposition to war absolute. What we advocate is not uniquely Quaker but human and, we believe, the will of God. Our stand does not belong to Friends alone-it is yours by birthright ....
Let us reject the clamour of fear and listen to the whisperings of hope.
Aotearoa/New Zealand Yearly Meeting, 1987
Love didn't die on the cross - it simply chose not to fight.
Peace is the work of justice indirectly, in so far as justice removes the obstacles to peace; but it is the work of charity (love) directly, since charity, according to its very notion, causes peace.
When evil is allowed to compete with good, evil has an emotional populist appeal that wins out unless good men and women stand as a vanguard against abuse.
Joy is the most ineffable sign of the presence of God.
Also quoted as "infallible sign", or attributed to Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.
When you're finally up on the moon, looking back at the earth, all these differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend and you're going to get a concept that maybe this is really one world and why the hell can't we learn to live together like decent people?
We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living.
In separateness lies the world's great misery; in compassion lies the world's true strength.
It is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners.
Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it.
The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?
Looking for peace is like looking for a turtle with a mustache: You won't be able to find it. But when your heart is ready, peace will come looking for you.
We may draw good out of evil; we must not do evil, that good may come.
The day will come when, after harnessing the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of Love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.
A spiritual person tries less to be godly than to be deeply human.
Peace rules the day, where reason rules the mind.
"The Golden Rule is of no use to you whatsoever unless you realize that it's your move."
We are, each of us angels with only one wing; and we can only fly by embracing one another.
Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.
If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.
The world will never have lasting peace so long as men reserve for war the finest human qualities. Peace, no less than war, requires idealism and self-sacrifice and a righteous and dynamic faith.
At some ideas you stand perplexed, especially at the sight of human sins, uncertain whether to combat it by force or by human love. Always decide, "I will combat it with human love." If you make up your mind about that once and for all, you can conquer the whole world. Loving humility is a terrible force; it is the strongest of all things and there is nothing like it.
You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments that stand out, the moments when you have really lived, are the moments when you have done things in a sprit of love.
What good is it to me that Mary gave birth to the son of God fourteen hundred years ago, and I do not also give birth to the Son of God in my time and in my culture? We are all meant to be mothers of God. God is always needing to be born.
Nothing that I can do will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice I can help the greatest of all causes - goodwill among men and peace on earth.
Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
Peace is more the product of our day-to-day living than of a spectacular program, intermittently executed.
I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is alway someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.
While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.
It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery and death. And yet I think this cruelty will end, and that peace and tranquillity will return again.
I hope...that mankind will at length, as they call themselves reasonable creatures, have reason and sense enough to settle their differences without cutting throats; for in my opinion there never was a good war, or a bad peace.
We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it. The Attainment of freedom, whether for a person, a nation or a world, must be in exact proportion to the attainment of nonviolence for each.
It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passion, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace.
We cannot have world peace without peace in our own lives. We cannot attack our planet by the way we live, and then go off to a peace rally and hope to set right all the imbalance we have caused. Peace is first a private matter. It cannot grow except from there.
The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat. The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned.
Smiling is very important. If we are not able to smile, then the world will not have peace. It is not by going out for a demonstration against nuclear missiles that we can bring about peace. It is with our capacity of smiling, breathing, and being peace that we can make peace.
When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
We have dedicated ourselves to the preservation of Men's lives, but we find no freedom in giving, or doing or assisting in any thing by which Men's lives are destroyed or hurt.
American Mennonite Minister
It's a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one's life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than "try to be a little kinder."
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.
The most faithful disciples of Christ have been builders of peace, to the point of forgiving their enemies, sometimes even to the point of giving their lives for them.
There must be amidst all the confusions of the hour a tried and undisturbed remnant of persons who will not become purveyors of coercion and violence, who are ready to stand alone, if it is necessary, for the way of peace and love among men.
I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.
I do not want the peace that passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace..
First keep peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.
Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind...War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.
Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. And however undramatic the pursuit of peace, the pursuit must go on.
At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.
Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.
Peace depends ultimately not on political arrangements but on the conscience of mankind.
The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.
Peace is more important than all justice; and peace was not made for the sake of justice, but justice for the sake of peace.
Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God's eyes. If only they could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time, there would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed... I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.
Instead of loving what you think is peace, love other men and women and love God above all else. Instead of hating all the people you think are warmongers, hate the appetites and disorders in your own soul which are the causes of war.
There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.
Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.
I stand at the altar of murdered men, and, while I live, I fight their cause.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfullness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
One little person, giving all of her time to peace, makes news. Many people, giving some of their time, can make history.
A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it... It is as great presumption to send our passions upon God's errands, as to palliate them with God's name... We are too ready to retailiate, rather than forgive, or gain by love and information. And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us try then what Love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.
If you wish to be brothers, let the arms fall from your hands. One cannot love while holding offensive arms.
When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?
More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginning of all wars -- yes, an end to this brutal, inhuman and thoroughly impractical method of settling the differences between governments.
It is not right, my fellow-countrymen, you who know very well all the crimes committed in our name. It's not at all right that you do not breathe a word about them to anyone, not even to your own soul, for fear of having to stand in judgment of yourself. I am willing to believe that at the beginning you did not realize what was happening; later, you doubted whether such things could be true; but now you know, and still you hold your tongues.
Teach your children what we have taught our children that the earth is our mother. What ever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth. This we know. The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth. This we know. All things are connected-like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. What ever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth. We did not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, We do to ourselves.
Actually by Ted Perry, screenwriter for Home a 1972 film.
Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous.
Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.
Every act of love is a work of peace, no matter how small.
Peace begins with a smile - smile a hundred times a day at someone you don't really feel like smiling at - do it for peace. In this way we will spread the peace of God, and in this way we will shine with His light, and in the world and in the hearts of men we will snuff out all hatred and all love of power.
The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty - it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
Anything war can do, peace can do better.
The arms race can kill, though the weapons themselves may never be used...by their cost alone, armaments kill the poor by causing them to starve.
Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.
There is a principle which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages hath had different names. It is, however, pure and proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no form of religion nor excluded from any where the heart stands in perfect sincerity. In whomsoever this takes root and grows, of what nation soever, they become brethren in the best sense of the expression.
There once was a King who offered a prize to
the artist who would paint the best picture of
peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all
the pictures, but there were only two he really
liked and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for the peaceful towering mountains that were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains too, but these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell, and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest... perfect peace.
Which picture do you think won the prize? The King chose the second picture. Do you know why? "Because," explained the King, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."
One World War II Quaker conscientious
objector had been a professional wrestler. Once
when he and some other inmates of the Coshocton CPS
camp in Ohio made a trip into town, they were
hassled about their pacifism by some local youths,
who insisted that only force could change the
In response, the ex-wrestler took off his coat, challenged one of the local boys to a match, and promptly threw the townie across the room. He then asked the youth, "Now do you believe that force won't change people's views?"
"Heck no!" the local boy hollered back.
"That's exactly my point," said the Quaker, who put on his coat and left.
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|Last Updated 28 September 2004.|