I used to often struggle with the proper relationship between peace and justice. More specifically, I wrestled with whether or not it is ethical to ask folks who are living in deplorable, violently oppressive conditions to vie for peace when there is such a glaring absence of justice in their daily lives. In many ways, the answer to this question continues to shape my understanding of the question of peace in the modern world.
Studying English in college, one of the things I loved most about literature of all kinds was how it connected me so deeply to the humanity of people living in other centuries and other countries. Now I love reading old publications down in the American Friends Service Committee's (ASFC) archives for the same reasons—to marvel at how language has changed while our core beliefs have remained the same.
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” Nelson Mandela
Lessons on peace can be challenging to teach amid a media environment focused on war and violence. This podcast explores how Quaker schools can live out the peace testimony in and outside of the classroom.
Today people are traveling across the United States to make their way to the homes of loved ones to share food and celebrate Thanksgiving. Sometimes these encounters will be joyful, and sometimes they will be strained.
Several weeks ago, we invited our Quaker meeting/church liaisons to join our staff on a call to learn more about the "If I Had a Trillion Dollars” youth film festival, which is entering its fourth year. The festival asks young people (middle school through college age) to create a short film on how they would redirect the money in our nation's budget that has been spent on war.
Note: I met Robert Awkward last year during his internship with Erin Polley and the "If I Had a Trillion Dollars" (IHTD) youth film festival. The festival invites young people around the country to engage in conversations around how to shift our nation's budget priorities from militarism and war, to supporting the resources that communities need to thrive.
Michelle Alexander points out that mass incarceration and the war on drugs is built on the foundation of demonizing people of color, particularly brown and black men and boys. A very strong thread in her message was that in order to end the system of mass incarceration in a way that keeps it from being reconstructed, all of us must be able “to see and value the humanity in one another.”
Niyonu Spann and I presented a keynote address at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting sessions this summer in which we examined the anatomy of racism in individuals and organizations and explored how the Spirit can break through the dynamics of white supremacy to offer healing and transformation. The session was described in the yearly meeting epistle this way:
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more
Where we work
AFSC has offices around the world. To see a complete list see the Where We Work page.