Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
My meeting has begun the process of considering our concern over the use of drones to punish and take revenge on terrorists. I have so appreciated that our Peace and Social Action committee is taking as the first step of this several month discernment process, a consideration of the spiritual basis for our concern. A proposed minute, campaign, or action is not even being consider yet. First, Friends are attempting to get a solid spiritual grounding on the core issue of the use of violence as a response.
Too often Quakers bypass this initial first step when considering peace and social issues. It behooves us to establish in the minds of all onlookers that we are not coming from a political, social, philosophical, or even religious position. Rather, it is all about having a spiritual outlook towards the world we live in; the "mind of Christ".
The following was just distributed to Friends at meeting as the material that will be explored through sharing with one another in our next weekly Circle of Friends:
The Quaker Peace Testimony of 1660 has been representative of the Quaker stance against violence for over 350 years. During regular worship in a listening silence, early Friends quickly began to move away from the established church protocol and doctrinal governance of the day, and instead embraced a profound experience of “the spirit of Christ” within. In modern times, we might term this same experience as “having the mind of Christ” or “experiencing the inward Light”.
Liberal Quakerism today still holds dearly the spirit of Jesus’ teachings; viewing these as simply a universal call to whole-heartedly live in ‘love and Light’. The Quaker Peace Testimony springs from this deep spiritual Source that is still relevant in the modern world.
Excerpts from The Quaker Peace Testimony of 1660
"Our principle is, and our Practice has 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. We know that wars and fightings proceed from the lusts of men out of which lusts the Lord hath redeemed us, and so out of the occasion of war.
We utterly deny 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 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 this world.
And whereas men come against us with clubs, staves, drawn swords, pistols cocked, and do beat, cut, and abuse us, yet we never resisted them, but to them our hair, backs and cheeks have been ready. Our weapons are spiritual and not carnal. Therefore we cannot learn war any more."
The meeting long ago established publically our concern about war in general as destructive to the world we live in - because revenge and punishment just escalates violence; it is ultimately unproductive; not to mention the destruction of life it brings.
The meeting has become aware that many in the U.S. view drone weaponry as somehow different than war - simply because they are unaware of the mistakes when executing it, collateral damage in innocent lives, the PTSD it causes in the operators, the long-term consequences of its use in perpetuating escalating violence, and that it too is contrary to the 'mind of Christ' which knows no revenge and punishment as a response.
So, a Friend in our meeting brought this concern to the whole meeting several months ago at our Meeting for Business. It has been seasoning for several months, and just this month at our Meeting for Business Friends united that we do have a collective concern about drone warfare - because it is indeed no different than other acts of war.
We are waiting for a leading from the Spirit on how to respond or not to this concern that is shared by the whole meeting. And from comments offered by Friends, I feel certain that any response will place drone warfare in the context of all other forms of warfare.