Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

Lest we Forget: Quaker Peace Statement

10 Comments

peacepoppy-smallLest we Forget – Statement from the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Yearly Meeting of Aotearoa New Zealand, Te Hāhi Tūhauwiri, May 2014

On the eve of commemorations of World War I, Quakers in Aotearoa New Zealand are concerned that history is not reinvented to glorify war.

We remember the loss of life, the destruction of the environment, the courage of soldiers, dissenters and conscientious objectors; we remember all those who still suffer the ongoing trauma of war.

We also note the increasing use of scarce resources for war. In Aotearoa New Zealand over ten million dollars a day is being spent to maintain our armed forces in a state of ‘combat readiness’ [Note].

We actively support alternative processes for resolving conflict and violence both within and between nations.

We reaffirm our words of 1987:

“We totally oppose all wars, all preparation for war, all use of weapons and coercion by force, and all military alliances; no end could ever justify such means.

We equally and actively oppose all that leads to violence among people and nations, and violence to other species and to our planet. This has been our testimony to the whole world for over three centuries.

The primary reason for this stand is our conviction that there is that of God in every one which makes each person too precious to damage or destroy.

Refusal to fight with weapons is not surrender. We are not passive when threatened by the greedy, the cruel, the tyrant, the unjust.

We may disagree with the views and actions of the politician or the soldier who opts for a military solution, but we still respect and cherish the person.

What we call for in this statement is a commitment to make the building of peace a priority and to make opposition to war absolute.

We challenge New Zealanders to stand up and be counted on what is no less than the affirmation of life and the destiny of humankind.”

(From Yearly Meeting of Aotearoa New Zealand, Statement on Peace, 1987)

The full text of the Yearly Meeting of Aotearoa New Zealand 1987 Statement on Peace is available at http://quaker.org.nz/ym-peace-statement

[Note] ‘Some comparative facts and figures from the 2014 Budget’, Peace Movement Aotearoa, 16 May 2014, http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/gdams.htm

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Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and was diagnosed as being autistic aged sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

10 thoughts on “Lest we Forget: Quaker Peace Statement

  1. Hmmm. That is interesting Barry. Unfortunately I think there is a fundamental fallacy buried deep in the root logic of the argument. Let me begin by saying that I agree 100% with the intent of the statements. However, the argument takes warfare at face value – assumes that it can be addressed as a fact and as such the behaviout can be modified. I do not think that is true. I think there are deeper causes of warfare and that unless or until those can be addressed, there is no chance that military behaviour will change. And i think that the root behaviours are insidious and predicted

    When I was young, my parents used to try to get me to eat all of my supper and one of their tactics when I left food on my plate was to tell me that there were starving children in Biafra and I should be grateful that I had food and should eat it all. Of course, being a smart-mouthed youngster, I soon found an answer to this: “Fine, send it (the food) to Biafra then.” So too is the assumption of the Quakers – that if war spending is reduced or eliminated, then the funds can and will be used to eradicate hunger and illness. Blatantly false from my perspective. The armaments are used to protect or increase wealth (and sometimes freedom) and if that spending is reduced then the money will return to the pockets of the wealthy – it will not, and won’t, be used help the poor in any way. The rich shall simply get richer. And they will do everything, including state sanctioned killing, to protect and increase that wealth.

    2,500 years ago Socrates began a discourse on Capitalistic Democracy. His conclusion was that more and more wealth will end up with fewer and fewer people. And that, in the world of one person, one vote which encourages the expansion of individualism, the wealthy will use their power to increase the security of their wealth. In the end the few wealthy will hold enough power that they will put a dictator in place who promises to protect them and their wealth, as a democracy no longer would. Socrates stopped there and flaly stated that a capitalist democracy will inevitably degrade into a dictatorship.

    When the war machine is viewed in this light, it soon becomes clear that no change in its status or funding is going to benefit anyone but the rich. And that change will not come unless the rich feel they are safe with less armed protection for their wealth.

    The founders of the United States recognized the inherent flaw in a capitalist democracy and were not fooled into believing in it’s inherent beauty. When they wrote the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers stated very clearly,. in clear and unambiguous detail, and emphatically worded , that when the govenment failed to protect the rights of its citizens in matters listed (pursuit of happiness, freedom, etc.) that it is not only the right but also the duty of all citizens to dissolve that government by any means necessary and establish a ruling system that did protect those rights as those rights were considered inalienable – i.e. the fundamental defnition of humanity.

    Anyway, all that to say that war is not what it appears to be and that its existence is ultimately at the behest of the wealthy (be they nations or individuals). There is no way to reduce its presence by objecting – you might as well object against capitalism for all the good it does. Oh, and as an aside. Contrary to what may appear, I personally think that a capitalist democracy is the best economic governing system we humans have developed to date. I have a degree in business and have studied enough that I am satisfied that is true. However, inalienable rights should be above this and capitalist democracies have to be guided and limited in their power. They are not. There are a lot of natural systems that mimic this behaviour and also need to be kept trimmed and balanced to extract their best. So too is our government and economic system.

  2. I interpret the statement to be the need to work towards the removal of the causes of war, not just the elimination of war. The two are quite different. Likewise they clearly differentiate between the absence of war and peace.

    Having lived in country that has always been a mixture of capitalism and socialism, although becoming more capitalist over recent decades, I’m not convinced that either has all the answers for an equitable and just society.

    • They aren’t – that’s clear. Canada leans toward socialism as well, but to my understanding a bit less than New Zealand. And yet, from what I hear it is hard to find a country more free than New Zealand – you have free speech, socialized medical care, less difference between classes, etc. Realistically, I don’t think that there are many, if any, better places to live than New Zealand. (I am happy to live in Canada as well). So, the question is how do we improve upon it? I don’t think we will make much progress by looking around the world for examples – we already amongst the best. Humans are notoriously difficult to govern and we need to work on that but we also need to be grateful – I think. Thanks Barry

      • The NZ I live in today is radically different to the NZ I grew up in. A lot of it can be blamed on Rogernomics (similar to Reaganomics in the U.S. and Thatchernomics in the U.K.) of the 1980s.

        In my younger days, we had full employment and foodbanks were unknown. While it was true our economy was highly regulated, we has a substantial local manufacturing industry. Everything from home appliances to 100 ton locomotives and rolling stock was being built here. We didn’t has a car manufacturing industry, but cars were assembled locally with about 60% local content.

        Today, I can’t even buy a pair of shoes made in NZ. The best I can hope for is a pair that says “designed in NZ”. There isn’t a single home appliance in my home that was manufactured in NZ.

        Unemployment runs at about 5%, violent crime is increasing (although murders are decreasing). Until the 1980s, we had one of the most egalitarian societies in the world, and the gap between rich and poor was decreasing. Today we we have the fastest growing gap between rich and poor in the OECD.

        We used to be a classless society. On our block there were solicitors, accountants, unskilled labourers, a carpenter, A shop owner, and others I don’t recall. Today we have a new class of “working poor” families, where even with both parents working full time, they have trouble making ends meet.

        MMP has improved democracy at a national level, but the privatisation of many previously community owned services means less democratisation overall in my opinion.

        Having said that, we are probably doing better than most countries. We certainly have a level of freedom that exceeds that of most, if not all countries. Our health system is good (but could be much better) and costs far less to run than the American model. And religious fundamentalism does not have the influence is does in the U.S. 🙂

        • The changes you describe are common today across the world. An unemployment of 5% is about as low as our economists say it can go – with those who can’t or don’t want to work and those who are in the midst of changing jobs. There are a number of ways to throttle back capitalism and better spread the wealth , that can be legislated. For instance force companies to profit share, limit the wage difference between top execs and lowest paid worker (as a multiple), etc. As i said, I think capitalism can be good – but it has to be controlled. The competition inherent in cpitalism drives innovation and efficiency – problem is that, unless checked, it also drives all the money into a few pockets – that has to be controlled and it’s not.

          Anyway, New Zealand still sounds like a poaradise Barry.

  3. I can remember when unemployment was less than 1%. The only problem with job hunting was choosing which job to accept. When I started work, I applied for six jobs and was offered all six positions. I agonised for a week before making a final choice.

    One problem with capitalism in a relatively small economy such as ours, is that it is easy to end up with monopolies or duopolies at which time innovation and efficiency are no longer relevant. Once a monopoly, they can use their power to prevent new players entering the market by using predatory pricing. The only way a new competitor can then enter the market is to have larger resources that the incumbent.

    I wouldn’t describe NZ as a paradise by any means, but I guess it’s a lot further from hell than most other places 🙂

  4. What is your relationship to Quakerism, Barry?

    • I prefer to keep private any religious affiliations I might have. Having said that, there’s nothing in the NZ form of Quakerism that I disagree with. I attend meeting for worship once or twice a year. Health and distance prevent me from attending more often.

      • I apologize for asking a personal question without prefacing that it was based on curiosity and not an expectation that you answer. Given that you did, thank you, and I’ve seen your reply, if you’d prefer to delete it. Thank you for stating your preference. If I ever impose in a similar way, without intending to – for example, if an area of sensitivity might not be obvious to me or if I am, again, just interested in what you have to say – I hope and trust you’ll express yourself as directly.

        • No problem EA. No offence taken ☺

          It’s not so much that I prefer to keep it a secret, it’s that too many people make (incorrect) assumptions about affiliations, be they religious, political, or otherwise. By not being too specific in my affiliations, I can tread (carefully) in areas where I might otherwise receive less than welcoming responses. It also avoids problems of having my beliefs taken to be representative of those I associate with. My beliefs are mine alone, and I wouldn’t presume to speak for the beliefs of others.

          I don’t take offence easily, and if you don’t take offence at somewhat evasive replies from time to time, then feel free to ask away ☺

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