At the gates of Roxel on Monday 10th September we spent a short time in silence following the Quaker tradition. This silence was preceded by the following words:
The corporate testimony
Public statement of the Yearly Meeting of Aotearoa/New Zealand, 1987, at a time when many Friends were making submissions to a committee established by their government to review defence policy:
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.
Refusal to fight with weapons is not surrender. We are not passive when threatened by the greedy, the cruel, the tyrant, the unjust.
We will struggle to remove the causes of impasse and confrontation by every means of nonviolent resistance available.
We urge all New Zealanders to have the courage to face up to the mess humans are making of our world and to have the faith and diligence to cleanse it and restore the order intended by God.
We must start with our own hearts and minds. Wars will stop only when each of us is convinced that war is never the way.
The places to begin acquiring the skills and maturity and generosity to avoid or to resolve conflicts are in our own homes, our personal relationships, our schools, our workplaces, and wherever decisions are made.
We must relinquish the desire to own other people, to have power over them, and to force our views on to them. We must own up to our own negative side and not look for scapegoats to blame, punish, or exclude. We must resist the urge towards waste and the accumulation of possessions.
Conflicts are inevitable and must not be repressed or ignored but worked through painfully and carefully. We must develop the skills of being sensitive to oppression and grievances, sharing power in decision-making, creating consensus, and making reparation.
In speaking out, we acknowledge that we ourselves are as limited and as erring as anyone else. When put to the test, we each may fall short.
We do not have a blueprint for peace that spells out every stepping stone towards the goal that we share. In any particular situation, a variety of personal decisions could be made with integrity.
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.
What we advocate is not uniquely Quaker but human and, we believe, the will of God. Our stand does not belong to Friends alone – it is yours by birthright.
We challenge all New Zealanders to stand up and be counted on what is no less than the affirmation of life and the destiny of humankind.
Together, let us reject the clamour of fear and listen to the whisperings of hope.
Quaker Faith and Practice 24.10
(“All New Zealanders” was changed to “Everyone”)