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Tuesday, 9 October, 2001, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
War Views: More violence is not the answer
Quaker Marigold Bentley offers a contrasting personal viewpoint to widespread approval to the US and UK military strikes on Afghanistan.

Yet again, Quakers and others around the world are challenged by the onslaught of violence and the threat of large scale retribution.

We are called to reflect again on our principles and ask deep seated questions about not only our spiritual lives but also our public responsibilities.


True justice will not be served through military means

Across the UK and the US, Quakers have been praying, reflecting, listening to the many views expressed and reaffirming our commitment to peace.

"As pacifists, we have to look as individuals within ourselves to see, even now, does that conviction hold true?" said Elizabeth Enloe, New York regional director of the American Friends service committee on 30 September.

"We find it does."

Worsen suffering

The peace movement as a whole has responded with sympathy to those who suffer as a consequence of events on 11 September. But we refuse to be part of the clamour for violence on violence.

From our experience over centuries of work to promote peace through non-violence, we can honestly say that violence in response to violence can only worsen human suffering and increase hatred and fear.

Surely it is human suffering, hatred and fear which are at the roots of terrorism?


It was a criminal act committed for a purpose we don't understand

Terror is felt by the mother who watches her child die from starvation. Terror is felt by the man who cannot protect his family from easily preventable disease. The helplessness that is felt by millions of people who are disenfranchised provides a ready source of individuals and groups willing to be martyred.

The events on 11 September were a terrible crime. But to talk of it as war is dangerous.

No easy answers

We don't want wars, warriors and more victims. It was a criminal act committed for a purpose which we do not fully understand. Let us treat it as a crime and invoke the laws that were specifically created for acts such as these. True justice will not be served through military means.

No one has easy answers to the problems which face us in these troubled times. Many are suffering and in their distress they ask for quick solutions and simple remedies. There are none.

We must continue actively to build the steps which make for long-term peace. In our hearts, these are things we all know. We must make space in our lives among the noise and strife to listen what our hearts can tell us about creating peace in the world.


All bloody principles and practices we do utterly deny

"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."

This comes for a Declaration to Charles II and was written by a group of English early Quakers in 1660. This - and similar writings - remain central to our faith.


This is one of a series of differing opinions on the War on Terror which we shall be publishing in the coming days. You can send your view about this or other articles by using the form below.

Your comments:

You either get what was written or you do not. If you do not, I hope one day you will. If you do, ask yourself what you personally are doing to change things.
Scott Ogier, Guernsey

OK, Marigold - you've suddenly been appointed prime minister. Can you please tell us what your actual policy regarding terrorism is?
Richard, UK

The proposition that violence does not stop violence appears to me to have been contradicted by World War II.
Paul, US

The sentiments expressed in this article are all very noble and will perhaps help to prevent today's children becoming tomorrow's terrorists. But sometimes you have to draw the line. The people behind the events of 11 September are not going to be influenced by a pacifist approach, indeed they will use it to their advantage.
Martin, UK

Non-violence is a very fine principle: would Ms. Bentley be willing to stand by while her children were murdered? If so, then she is consistent, although I do not agree with her. If not, or worse if she expects someone else (for example the police) to protect her children, then she is inconsistent, and the question becomes: when (not whether) violence is justified.
Ian Jermyn, France (British)

You might say, as Kurt Vonnegut had it, "Read History, and weep". However, I do not think that History is all that bleak a book in its ability to teach us how to react at the present time. Some may say that it is a crude analogy, but the events leading up to the Second World War may offer us a wiser course of action than the mere pacifism on offer here. Czechoslovakia was the pacifist reaction to the Third Reich.
Mike Mertens, England

All very well, but how do you address the civil rights record of the Taleban? What about the children who have had their hands cut off for playing with kites? Or the Hindus required the identify themselves with a yellow stripe on their clothing? Or the women beaten for showing their faces? The Taleban with not respond to peace and love I'm afraid.
Dr J P Dias, UK

I have lived 3 years in Egypt and 17 years in Israel. I couldn't agree more with the article. The Peace Process is fundamental to ending terrorism. War only creates more war, hatred, resentment, hunger, fear & alienation and makes reconciliation more remote.
Angela Godfrey, Egypt - previously Israel

I find it offensive and insulting to those affected by the events on 11 September that you print the views of the Looney liberals which infest every moment of our waking life. There can be no dialogue with anyone who is willing to condemn thousands of people to death all in the name of religion.
Simon Carey, England

Public bombing raids are not the answer. Covert operations, increased internal security will work. Public bombing raids and hawkish examination of what weapons were used will simply make the situation worse and result in yet more terrorist attacks. It is not a long term solution.
Bill Pleace, UK

Pacifism in the face of aggression is nothing more than collaboration by proxy.
John Ryan, US

I think the superpowers can think of and other way of eliminating the terrorists without shedding more innocent Afghan blood. For two wrongs do not make a right.
Abaho Jude Banga, Uganda

As a Vietnam veteran, I agree that war isn't always the solution. I went to a war that we never should have been in. But the war on terrorism should have been started (and finished) long ago. We simply didn't take the terrorists seriously and that was our error. Now we're taking them seriously.
Peter L. Manly, US

I am not a pacifist, but I agree with the Quakers on this one. The naive ones are the ones who believe that meeting violence with violence is an answer that really helps us overcome terrorism. Answering violence with violence, solving conflicts with war is exactly what we have always done and this is the world of terror that this approach has created. By making war we have made Bin Laden into a hero for some, instead of going after him with the moral force of law, with diplomatic pressure, and with police actions - making him a criminal.
Daniel M. Long, US

A USAF Vietnam Era Veteran voices a cry for peace. Violence does not end by creating more violent acts. No person is truly free until all are free... free to have food, clean water, clothing, housing, education, safety, medical & wellness support, community, the opportunity to contribute to society. We have many teachers of peace... Ghandi, M.L.King, Dalai Lama, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and still we don't get it.
Sharon Lee Kufeldt, USA

The nations are defending their principles with military violence. One of those principles is "Thou shalt not kill". Strange way to defend it!?
Mark L, Wales

Funny, I read the above statement and cannot but be amazed at the naivety of some "intelligent" individuals. Regardless of ideologies, complacency in time where actions are needed can worsen a situation. This situation, similar to 1939 when the Nazis invaded Poland and demanded the annexation of its so called "brethren" neighbours. How do you negotiate with those who do not want to negotiate? Sit around and chat about what to do while the situation worsens?
Tim Cox, USA

She should go down on her bended knees and thank God for the brave people who were willing to fight so that she can proclaim her pacifism. It's a good job she doesn't live under a "caring" Taleban government.
Trevor Fryer, UK

Trevor Fryer's comments that Marigold should "thank God for brave people so that she can proclaim her pacifism" is deeply unworthy and disrespectful to Quakers, who have often showed enormous bravery in upholding their principles. My great grandfather was a Quaker who refused to fight in the First World War - but that didn't stop him from being a military ambulanceman, who was awarded the George Cross for bravery on the battlefield in rescuing the wounded (of both sides). He understood, as did Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, that violence will only breed more of the same.
Alex E, UK

This pacifist policy is a real rosy idealist outlook on life. It makes me wonder on what planet these people are living. Unfortunately the pacifist idea can't and doesn't work as a national or world policy. No one likes violence, it's an utterly absurd notion. But people are human beings, subject to all the same failings as everyone else. Pacifism is a beautiful idea, and I truly wish that everyone believed in it. Unfortunately, some people don't. As long as there is one person that will resort to violence to achieve their sadistic desires, then there will be a need to stop it. This in no way condones retaliatory slaughter, or revenge. That's just as bad, but sometimes it is necessary to "punch back"
Fay Smith, US

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