The Peace Testimony

I read an article in Quaker Life Magazine’s September/October 2008 issue called Renewing the Quaker Testimony of Peace.  The article was written by long time world peace worker Landrum Boling.  It is an excerpt from a speech he made that can be found on  The article starts in true Quaker fashion by calling for self reflection.  “Who are we?  Where are we going?  What are our basic values and purposes?  What are our ultimate goals?  What are our most important daily interests and responsibilities?  What are the real guidelines, spoken and unspoken, by which we live?  He writes that, “we are called to search for new and better ways, strategies, processes and procedures by which to work more effectively towards achieving the highest purposes that inspire us.”  He uses reflection along with question when thinking about, “Renewing the Quaker Testimony on peace.”  Next, he cautions Quakers against being prideful about their long standing commitment to peace.  He writes.  “The doctrine of nonviolent resistance to war and to other manifestations of hatred, oppression and violence, have been taken up by both evangelical and mainstreams Christians, by Jews and by Muslims.  It is widely supported by Buddhists and Hindus.  Gandhi, we remember, was a devout practicing Hindu.”  He ends the article with the biblical points that Quakers use for guidance with the issue of peace.   



  1. acilius

     /  November 3, 2008

    Thanks for the post! I met Landrum Boling once, he spoke at a Quaker meeting I visited during the leadup to the current war in Iraq. He talked about work he and other Quakers have done in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The sort of thing to wipe out any vestige of optimism, you’d think, but not so in his case. He was strangely upbeat.

  2. cymast

     /  November 3, 2008

    “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

    I personally agree, but I know not everybody subscribes to that philosophy. I think it depends on one’s personality. Some people are so naturally focused on the here and now that any examination of the possibility of basic truths and logic that would govern existence is dismissed as pointless and irritating, like a gnat buzzing in one’s ear.

    The non-violence value also applies to agnostics, atheists, the non-religious, and the irreligious.

  3. acilius

     /  November 3, 2008

    Some critics argue that pacifism is always in danger of turning aggression inward. So a self-tormenting person may use pacifism as a way of beating him/herself up. A person who’s inclined to think, “I deserve to suffer,” might find in pacifism an excuse for putting that thought into action, even for making it a philosophy of life.

    Transcendental religion might exacerbate that danger- “I deserve to suffer” becomes “I deserve to suffer because God wants me to suffer.” That said, Quakers generally seem to me to be a pretty well-adjusted, life-affirming group.

  4. cymast

     /  November 3, 2008

    Of course, pacifism, suffering, and every other philosophy of existence seem to fall apart when the ultimate question of whether free will exists is pondered.

  5. acilius

     /  November 4, 2008

    One of the things that impresses me about the Quakers is that they manage to be pacifists (not all of them are pacifists, but many are) without showing signs of self-hate.

  6. believer1

     /  November 10, 2008

    I was very impressed with the time and credit he gave to non-quakers. it was very intelligent and respectful of him. one thing i really like about the quaker church i go to is their respect for others.

  7. acilius

     /  November 11, 2008

    That’s true, they always show respect to everyone. I suppose that’s part of peace.

  8. believer1

     /  November 13, 2008

    yes, i wish others would take part in that as well

  9. acilius

     /  November 14, 2008

    They remind me of the saying “Never practice what you preach. If you practice it, you won’t have to preach.” Some people who never say a word about their religion make the most compelling witnesses to their faith.

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