So, I'm in a moral quandary.

I've been freelancing a bit with a news site financed by the U.S. Department of Defense, but run by a defense contractor. Next year, I tend to move to D.C., and they have hinted at offering me a full-time job. It puts me in a Quaker quandary.

First, even though it's DOD, I'm not sure how much it actually serves a military capacity. There are so many statistics about how America spends more money on the military than the closest nine competitors combined. But what they fail to point out is that the U.S. also has comparatively one of the smallest foreign services, because we use military apparati to do such things. 

Is working indirectly for the DOD in itself against Quaker Testimony? Is it possible to find a job that is not in this modern age? At least the DOD is somewhat upfront with what it stands for, as compared to many corporations, where we don't know what they're doing.

Can I do anything career-wise other than organic turnip farming and feel at peace?

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That just seems too cut-and-dry to me. What is the military these days? Should Quakers not work with the Army Corp of Engineers to rebuild the levees in New Orleans? Or passing out food rations in Rwanda? Or installing cellphone towers in present-day Vietnam? The armed forces these days does so much that is not "military" in the traditional sense.
I agree that the Quaker position on taking positions related to the military in any capacity goes against our Peace Testimony. However, the fact that this is a Quaker ethic means just that. You do not have to be a Quaker, or a pacifist, to attend Meeting, or even be a member. I would ask, not suggest, that you simply tell folks you are a seeker who identifies with Quaker testimonies and worship practice in many ways, with much depth, but have not yet come to a moment of convincement that has directed you toward a total acceptance of non-violence. Recognition of a normative component of a faith community does not bind you to practice, at least not among Friends. I ask that you simply recognize you career choice, one which you feels rightly contributes to the utilitarian well being of humantiy, does not fall within the parameters of historical Quaker beliefs. Also, there is nothing wrong with turnip farming : ). My family farms! Please remember, that, being a peace maker, or participating in non-violent community praxis, require sacrifice on behalf of the ethic. In my therapeutic practice, we call this accepting the consequences of integrity.
I'd been going to school while living on Aid to the Totally Demented for years, and my former wife was getting tired of poverty. I'd been starting my second year of work towards a 2nd BA in 'computer science', looking forward to an individual project designing a computer program able to play 'go' at normal human strength... but then a civil service job came through, working for Social Security in San Diego. I gathered they had a high turnover; and there was no doubt a reason for that; but it wasn't 108 in the summer and cold in the winter. We moved.

After nearly 3 years of life on the treadmill, in a job that really required one to be too smart to work there... with the resident demons (aka "supervisors") happily encouraging their favorite underlings with friendly pitchforks (As one of my co-workers put it: "Your attitude isn't any different than ours, but you let everyone know") I found a computer job. They liked the fact that I'd done a joint project writing a compiler... Could I possibly overcome my preference for civilian work?-- Their civilian division wasn't hiring. "I felt like you when I first came here; but I saw the distinction between defensive weapons and offensive. This project is merely defensive. Why don't you think about it."

I thought about it, and realized I would do almost anything to escape the job I had.

I was pretty upset about having to turn down the new offer, a chance to escape and develop my programming skills; but as my dream that night told me: "Anybody can be a programmer..."

A few months later I just quit Social Security, and have been harmlessly useless ever since (if you don't count some time running a used book store, or my later work as a (negative salary) street newspaper editor.)

I joined the Friends about ten years later.

How good are you at kidding yourself?
Scot,

I have large qualms with your response; to me, it seems arbitrary, too broad, and a little condescending. You make presumptions about me with no basis. Also, I don't think the "the parameters of historical Quaker belief" are always on your side, especially not in the case of George Fox.

When you read tracts of George Fox rebuking war, he does not say that people shouldn't be in the army. Have you ever read his "To the Council of Officers of the Armie"? Here's a quote:

"And you Souldiers, do violence to no man, accuse no man falsly, which if you do (violence to any man, or accuse any man falsly) you go from the just Principle of God in you, and upon you will God bring his justice, and over you will the Truth reign: To you this is the word of the Lord God; ... whereby your sword is turned against violent doers, and false accusers, and a terror to the evil doer; and to them that do well, the sword is a praise, and such bear not the sword in vain, nor are like the blind persecutors, that turn the sword backwards."

He asked that soldiers be qualified for their jobs and do them well, not to leave their jobs. It was never the job that George Fox or early Quakers were against, but the actions people took in those jobs. Even when you read old Faith and Practices and Books of Discipline, taxies levied to support the army were opposed because they would be used for warlike purchases, not because they went to the army in general. For example, from the Book of Discipline of Philadelphia YM of 1806:

"It is the sense of this meeting, that a tax, levied for the purchasing of drums, colours, or for other warlike uses, cannot be paid consistently with our Christian testimony. -- 1776."

They talk of avoiding "personal service for carrying on war" - not service in general. The word "war" is always attached.

It seems only recently that Quakers started making such blanket statements. In my view, the Peace Testimony becomes stagnant and stale when it ceases to be thoughtful action and rather a rote discourse. How can there be continuous revelation without continuous reflection upon the evolving institutions of society?

Until the 1900s, the military was nothing but a war machine, but it's hard to say that now. A lot of what the Department of Defense does is not actually to create or prepare for war, but to prevent it through cultural and economic outreach. I'm a journalist as a profession. Why should it be OK for me as a Quaker to work for Voice of America because its money comes from the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and not a similar organization that has very similar goals, just because its funding comes from DOD? That's arbitrary and useless.

What George Fox hated above all else was passive acceptance of the status quo, and people's tendency to inaction. He wanted to change things. There aren't a lot of opportunities to change things journalistically in North Africa, where every single country is an authoritarian regime with no free press. But, this is where my expertise is. If I want to make a difference using the best of my abilities, this is where I think I can do it.

To me, the argument that I shouldn't, in good Quaker conscience, work for a company tied to the DOD because of what armed forces are doing in Afghanistan is like saying that Abel is somehow responsible for the sin of Cain because they're in the same family.

I've done a lot of contemplation, and I think taking the job would jibe better with Quaker Testimony than not taking it.
What I told you was simply how I felt about compromising with organizations with evil objectives and evil means of realizing them.

I would have been perfectly okay with doing a civilian project for the same corporation.

But the more I've learned about the 'civilian' activities of the US government abroad, the less I myself would be able to work attempting to disguise and justify those activities to the public.

But it has taken me a very long time to realize how much harm "we" do in the name of seemingly good purposes; I too once considered us 'the good guys.'
Uhh, sorry that I might have been condescending. By your response to what I wrote, you have already made up your mind, considering your ability to justify your wishes by using the witness of so many Friends. I could have done that by suggesting you follow Fox's advice to Cromwell, which was to take his army and route the papists in Spain and Italy. Indeed, Elton Trueblood was a spiritual advisor to Nixon, and supported the actions of the US in Southeast Asia. Friends have gone to war for a long time, and since you knew this, why did you bother to ask. Indeed, many Freinds come to Friends meetings, not to get corporate feedback from a faith community, but to get support that they must "follow their leading." Sorry, I won't do that.
The potential that I am mistaken, however, clearly exists. Just as you point out by quotation that Friends support working with the military on "non-coercive" humanitarian projects, I will pr0of-text your post to show that I have been wrong all along.

"Until the 1900s, the military was nothing but a war machine, but it's hard to say that now."

The experiences of my whole adult life, my education, my faith community, and my seminary and adult education have just been proven an unreliable filter through which to view the American military.

Oh, ask some Africans about the Peace Corps.... now there's some integrity for you.
Matthew,
I wish you could meet with a clearness committee about this question. I know you are an isolated Friend, which makes it very difficult. But as I understand it, at least in the Hicksite tradition, true Quaker process of discernment is quite different from an internet discussion. A clearness committee listens and hopes to help the Holy Spirit to speak clearly within you as to what you should do. It may be God is sending you to this job for a reason. It may be that you shouldn't go. The only way you will know for certain is if you find Guidance within. Perhaps even if you found some friends you trust where you are, who aren't Quaker, they would be willing to sit in silence with you and let you speak about the questions you have, and the truth will emerge for you. I hope it does.

Rosemary
Rosemary, You have the wisdom that my personality always tries to bury. Your post in response to Matthew has been the most thoughtful and productive part of may First Day. Thank you for gently suggesting a bit a clearness for our Friend, and even more gently putting me in a more appropriate fram of mind. Oh, sorry, this ain't about me. However, I might have received more from your ministry than was intended.
Thank you for thanking me, Scot. I found myself praying about Matthew's questions during meeting for worship today, and what I wrote is the response that came to me.

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