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More or less all Quakers join in refusing to support the killing of others, or to accept that disputes are to be resolved by war. We wish to be peacemakers in all our dealings, whether personal, at work, or in the public arena and maybe on the international stage. Quakers in Britain are perhaps best known for their stand as objectors to war and for their giving of alternative service, for example in the Friends Ambulance Unit in both world wars. But a commitment to peace is relevant at all times – not only in wartime – and in every sphere of daily life today. Besides our witness as individuals, Quakers work for peace at a variety of levels. Locally, for example, some Quakers work to introduce peace education and conflict resolution in schools. It was a group of Quakers working with prisoners who originated the Alternatives to Violence Project, which offers many kinds of training for people needing to handle their own aggression or face challenging situations. Nationally, we campaign for disarmament and alternatives to military ‘security’. We train individuals to work for peace in conflict areas, and support them where they put their training into practice. We take part in protests at military bases, sometimes ending up in prison. Internationally, the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) works in Geneva and in New York of peace and disarmament and related issues and the Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) works with European institutions in Brussels. Quakers host meetings where diplomats and leaders, publicly sworn enemies, may discuss in secret how to resolve their differences. Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW), a department of Britain Yearly Meeting, administers the Britain and Ireland involvement in the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Israel and Palestine which aim to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions and concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation.. And this is not all!
Taken together, work of this kind is our expression of our peace testimony.
The earliest full expression of the peace testimony is preserved as a statement made by Friends in 1660.
Our principle is, and our practices have always been, to seek peace, and ensue it, and to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of God, seeking the good and welfare, and doing that which tends to the peace of all. All bloody principles and practices we do utterly deny, with all outward wars, and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world. That spirit of Christ by which we are guided is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil, and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ which leads us into all Truth will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world.
And as for the kingdoms of this world, we cannot covet them, much less can we fight for them, but we do earnestly desire and wait, that by the word of God's power and its effectual operation in the hearts of men the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ, that he might rule and reign in men by his spirit and truth, that thereby all people, out of all different judgments and professions might be brought into love and unity with God and one with another, and that they might all come to witness the prophet's words, who said, ‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more’. (Is 2:4; Mic 4:3)
Declaration to Charles II, 1660 (Quaker faith and practice, 24.04)