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If war is not the answer, what is?Podcast

By: Madeline Schaefer
Published: October 23, 2013
Photo: FCNL / Colin Browne

On October 13, Friends Meeting of Washington hosted an event for Quakers and the general public to learn more about a new joint working paper recently published by the American Friends Service Committee and Friends Committee on National Legislation, titled "Shared Security: Reimagining US foreign policy."  The document, published in April 2013, lays out new ways that the U.S. can engage with the global community, based on principles of cooperation and human security.

Listen to this short audio story to hear more about the document, as well as how audience members responded to the presentation and discussion on beginning the work of creating a world that prioritizes human rights and the peaceful resolution to conflict.

To listen to more audio stories, see the Calling forth the Goodness podcast page, or subscribe to the podcast through iTunes so you don't miss future episodes.

Transcript (excerpt)

Madeline:  In the early 2000s, as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were just getting started, many Quakers around the country could be spotted with a sign or bumper sticker reading, “War is not the answer,” a phrase developed by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobby group in Washington. 

10 years later, Friends Committee on National Legislation and the American Friends Service Committee have teamed up to ask the question, “If war is not the answer, what is?”  A new working paper titled, “Shared Security,” that was recently published by both organizations, is a first step to finding that answer.

On October 13th, at a Quaker Meeting in Washington D.C., both organizations came together to present the document and begin a conversation around what a world at peace might look like, and how to get there. 

The full title of the document is “Shared Security: Reimagining U.S. Foreign Policy,” and it lays out a vision for U.S. engagement in the world that prioritizes collaboration and peaceful solutions to the world’s problems, while minimizing militarism whenever possible.  It is not revolutionary, but it is calling on Quakers and elected officials to “reach across the aisle,” if you will, and take concrete actions to work together for a more peaceful world.

On that Sunday afternoon, about 50 people filled into the Meeting room to hear the two General Secretaries of the Quaker organizations and two Quaker “responders” for the discussion.  One young woman I spoke to, Shannon Zimmerman, hadn’t read the document, but happy to see Quakers reengaged in issues of peace. 

Shannon: It feels like we've very much disconnected since all of the push we had in the Veitnam era and riding off of the successful help that we provided in WWII, but it seems like recently Quakers have been disengaged, and I am delighted to see that they are taking an active role in seeing how we can influence American policy and American foreign policy to create the world we want to live in rather than standing back and saying this isn't the world I want to live in.

About the Author

Madeline Schaefer

Madeline is the Friends Relations Associate. She grew up in the beautiful Radnor Meeting community outside of Philadelphia, and attended Friends Schools in the area until the end of High School.  After several years of studying and traveling, she returned to Philadelphia only to immerse herself once again in the stories, the culture and the spirituality of Philadelphia Quakers.  While living in collective house in West Philadelphia, she grew curious about the history of young Quaker activists in the neighborhood, and started an oral history project to find out more.  Madeline is interested in exploring the ways in which life in community can stretch our capacity for compassion and growth.  Her dream is to create more alternative communities of people learning how to live together, creating models for a society fueled by cooperation and love.

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