Memorial Day

People who gave their lives in service to our country deserve our deep respect.

But as a Quaker and pacifist, these holidays make me very sad. Why did they have to die?  Why did civilians also have to die in those conflicts? Why didn’t diplomacy work? What could we have done to prevent these conflicts?

Are we working as hard and effectively as we can to prevent future deaths from existing and future conflicts? I recently shared stories of draft resisters and conscientious objectors as examples of some ways to work for peace.

Another example is the efforts of Iowa Quakers, working with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) to try to arrange another visit by North Koreans to Iowa.

Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) works diligently to promote legislation to advance peace.

The current administration’s approach has been to drastically reduce the staff and influence of the State Department, impairing possibilities of diplomacy. And to dramatically increase the already gigantic military budget by billions of dollars. To continually spotlight the military might. Planning a military parade through the streets of the nation’s capitol.

Why did we invade a country, Iraq, for the first time in our country’s history? Why didn’t we stop that conflict when the justification of weapons of mass destruction were never found? How did we let a war on an idea, “terror”, get started? Even if that made sense, how are we supposed to know when that war would end? How could this not be a constant and endless war?

How did we allow weaponized drones to kill “targets”, people that were never given a chance to assert their innocence, and in countries we have not declared war with? Drones that kill so many innocent bystanders. Drones that terrorize the populace as they buzz overhead.

How did we buy our way out of military service with a volunteer army? How could we allow soldiers to sign up for tour after tour of traumatizing service?

Historically Quakers have spoken out against war and knew the causes of war came from the desire to take land or resources from other countries or peoples.

“I told [the Commonwealth Commissioners] I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars… I told them I was come into the covenant of peace which was before wars and strife were.” George Fox

“Oh! that we who declare against wars, and acknowledge our trust to be in God only, may walk in the light, and therein examine our foundation and motives in holding great estates! May we look upon our treasures, and the furniture of our houses, and the garments in which we array ourselves, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions, or not. Holding treasures in the self-pleasing spirit is a strong plant, the fruit whereof ripens fast.” John Woolman

Today another type of war is waged on a global scale against Mother Earth herself.  Only death can result when the resources our environment depends upon (land, water, air, energy) are excessively consumed, and polluted in the process.

Today we must speak out against this environmental war and find a way to live in the virtue of that life and power to take away the occasion of this ongoing environmental destruction. And take away the occasion for armed conflict.

May we look upon our treasures, the cars we drive, the large homes we heat and cool, the electronic devices we use and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions, or not.

May we have the courage to really listen to what the Inner Light is asking of us, and then do that?




This entry was posted in climate change, peace, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Memorial Day

  1. Kathleen J. Hall says:

    There is no flag big enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. Howard Zinn

  2. Forrest Curo says:

    Um, if we want to be accurate here: People deserve our respect. Period.

    But they don’t often ‘die in service to our country,’ but in disservice to it. When you say Iraq was “the first time in our nation’s history” that ‘we’ aggressively invaded another country on false pretexts for dubious purposes, it sounds like you must have forgotten the bulk of our history.

    We should no doubt be nice to all those people who thought they were doing the right thing by doing the wrong things they were ordered to do. But there is that bit in the Bible about “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.” Isn’t that what an army is all about? When Friends just go along with holidays and other customs that promote a false view of things… What about that?

    • jakisling says:

      Yes, our Friend Marshall Massey also objected to “respect”.
      My response is I can see it wasn’t good to say “deep respect”. I was thinking in terms of anyone who puts themselves in a dangerous situation, Even though I believe what they were doing was wrong, they were risking their lives in the cause they believed in. I didn’t intend to condone what they were doing.
      I feel the same for fire fighters, policemen, medical personnel and peacemakers who go into dangerous situations, etc.

  3. Joan Kindler says:

    When I was a teenager in the 1940’s…I felt proud to be an American..(was not a Quaker then) but was told by our Leaders that World War 2 would be the war that ended all wars…that evil would be
    overcome by having a United Nations . I sold defense stamps at a table outside Woolworth’s. I knew that putting Japanese Americans in “camps” was wrong at the same time believing that our generation would witness to our beliefs …which at that time I thought non-violence and the writings of Thoreau, Gandhi and others would be shared by the world….And then the Vietnam War.All of my thoughts were focused on reading Anne Frank and still believing that there was hope that most people were “good”. that of God in everyone…becoming a Quaker because God said “Love one another”…I pray all of our grandchildren will read 1968 and act on their gift of Empathy

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