View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
20 December 2006updated 27 Sep 2015 2:33am

Quakers and peace

Beliefs and a personal religious journey

By Sally Brooks

Quakers are inextricably linked to peace. It is one of the Quaker testimonies, which also include truth and integrity, equality and community, simplicity and the earth and environment.

It took me some time to feel comfortable with pacifism. It is not always an easy concept – particularly with compelling arguments for ‘just war’, such as the Second World War. Some people are sceptical of us, believing us to be idealists and naïve.

But what is idealistic in one generation can become a cherished right in the next. This can be seen in the Quakers’ involvement in the abolition of slavery in Britain. Next year is the bi-centenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, 1807.

Quakers saw the trade as a violation of their fundamental belief in equality of all people and began the campaign at a time when the world regarded slavery not only as acceptable, but inevitable.

The idea that society might function without slaves was unthinkable. It was many decades before the slave trade came to be seen by a critical mass as morally unacceptable and was eventually brought to a halt.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

This was a long-term campaign, and I feel the same way about peace. We are taking baby steps, but progress nonetheless. Without hope of peace, there will never be peace. With hope, there is at least a chance.

But peace is more than stopping war for me, it is about peace of mind. This is a difficult state to achieve, but I think I sometimes get close, through the silence. My journey towards personal peace started a long time ago. I was nine and I asked my parents if they would buy me a bible please.

Having only ever been to church for weddings until that point, I think they were a bit surprised. But they did as I asked and kindly bought me a beautiful illustrated children’s bible. I read it carefully and spent a lot of time asking my Mum what the stories meant. In those days she termed herself an agnostic, so used to turn the questions back onto me and get me to think about them myself. I think it was a great start for a Quaker-in-waiting!

When I was 15 I got involved in a local evangelical church. It was an overwhelming experience for me. I loved it for the music, the colour, the movement and the community. But after about a year I began to feel that this was a community I could only belong to on certain conditions.

I felt I had to believe certain things, worship in a certain way and live my life within a very strict set of guidelines. I left the church one day and knew I would never go back. And I didn’t.

It left me with a fear of organised religion that has stayed with me. It took me until I was 23 to enter a religious establishment through choice again, and it was a Quaker Meeting House. A place where I was safe to question, explore and nurture my faith – which had never gone away. I live now in a community where I am accepted absolutely for who I am. I am able to lend support to others if they are ill or struggling in some way, and if I need some help, I have a network of people I can always call on. It makes me a very fortunate person.

Content from our partners
Where do we get the money to fix the world's biggest problems? – with ONE
Labour's health reforms can put patients first
Data science can help developers design future-proof infrastructure

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU