Reflecting on the set of queries read to our Quaker Meeting during worship one Sunday morning, I was struck by a fresh interpretation. That set opens
“Do you ‘live in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion for all wars’? Do you faithfully maintain Friends’ testimony against military preparations and all participation in war, as inconsistent with the teaching and spirit of Christ?”
Initially, my mind considered ongoing conflicts around the world and the underlying conditions that fuel them. But to my surprise, as my thoughts turned to home, it was not the Pentagon that held my attention but the rising sales of guns sold for no other purpose but to maim or kill people – something quite different than hunting wildlife. Is this not “military preparations” of a more stealthy sort than we’d observe in the political arena? And what are the underlying conditions here? Hatred and racism, for sure, along with greed, lust, untruth, injustice, ignorance, fear, and much more, for certain. Turning these requires repentance, compassion, forgiveness, mutual respect, equality. Guns have no place in this equation.
New England Yearly Meeting’s queries on peace and reconciliation continue by urging an alternative action:
“Do you strive to increase understanding and use of nonviolent methods of resolving conflicts? Do you take your part in the ministry of reconciliation between individuals, groups, and nations? When discouraged, do you remember what Jesus said, ‘Peace is my parting gift to you, my own peace, such as the world cannot give. Set your troubled hearts at rest, and banish your fears.’ John 14:27 NEB”