Many issues related to peace and nonviolence were considered by the Peace and Social Concerns committee, of which I am co-clerk with Sherry Hutchison, at the annual sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative).
Many of our concerns related to the Middle East. We approved supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) AFSC has been working on, to try to pressure Israel to stop oppressing the Palestinian people. We also approved a minute and a letter to be sent to our Congressional representatives related to the recently negotiated deal to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for easing sanctions against Iran. The fate of the deal is likely to determine how peace progresses, or not, in the Middle East.
We also worked on the concerns related to gun violence, and approved a minute urging Congress to allow the Centers for Disease Control to fund research into the public health effects of gun violence.
One slogan often heard in the streets of our cities during protests this past year is “no justice, no peace”. In our country it seems much of our peace work has been focused on addressing economic and racial injustice here.
We seek peace within our own lives. Sometimes there are barriers to peace within families and meetings, and among individuals. Anger and frustration may result in hurtfulness which leaves physical, sexual or emotional wounds. Healing and forgiveness are possible when our hearts are opened to the transforming love that comes from the Spirit Within. The violence we oppose is not only war, but all unloving acts.
Friends seek peaceful resolution to conflicts among nations and peoples. Wars can easily erupt when nations depend upon armed forces as an option for defense and order. To oppose war is not enough if we fail to deal with the injustices and inequalities that often lead to violence. We need to address the causes of war, such as aggression, revenge, overpopulation, greed, and religious and ethnic differences.
• What are we doing to educate ourselves and others about the causes of conflict in our own lives, our families and our meetings? Do we provide refuge and assistance, including advocacy, for spouses, children, or elderly persons who are victims of violence or neglect?
• Do we recognize that we can be perpetrators as well as victims of violence? How do we deal with this? How can we support one another so that healing may take place?
• What are we doing to understand the causes of war and violence and to work toward peaceful settlement of differences locally, nationally, and internationally? How do we support institutions and organizations that promote peace?
• Do we faithfully maintain our testimony against preparation for and participation in war?