The Friends Peace Testimony
In World War I (US)
Part I

NOTE: A national Quaker conference on peace was held in Winona Lake, Indiana in 1917, on the eve of the United States' entry into World War I. The conference adopted the following statement and published it in numerous secular American publications.

A dissenting response to this statement by another group of Friends is Part II of this series.  To read it, click here.

An FGC pamphlet, also from 1917, upholding traditional Quaker pacifism is part III of this series.

 

[Third Month, 1917]

A MESSAGE FROM THE

Religious Society of Friends
(Quakers) in America

To Our Fellow Citizens:

In This time of crisis when our country's highest good is the common aim of all, we voice this deep conviction of patriotic duty.

We rejoice that even at this time, when the world is crazed by war, so many men are judging war by moral and, spiritual standards, and by ideals of sacrifice. The causes for which men fight--liberty, justice and peace--are noble and Christian causes. But the method of war is unchristian and immoral. War itself violates law, justice, liberty and peace, the very ends for which alone its tragic cost might be justified.

Further, the method of war is ineffective to these ends. Might does not decide the right, ideals cannot be maintained by force, nor can evil overcome evil. True national honor is a nationís own integrity and unselfish service. Only unswerving honesty and self-control maintain it. Rights, the rights of all, are securely defended between nations as between individuals by mutual confidence, not suspicion; by universal cooperation and law, not by private armed force. The alternative to war is not inactivity and cowardice. It is the irresistible and constructive power of good-will. True patriotism at this time calls not for a resort to the futile methods of war, but for the invention and practice on a gigantic scale of new methods of conciliation and altruistic service. The present intolerable situation among nations demands an unprecedented expression of organized national good-will.

Unpractical though such ideals may seem, experience has taught that ideals can be realized if we have faith to practice now what all men hope for in the future, The American Nation, as a more perfect union of States, as a melting pot of races, as a repeated victor through peace, has proved practical the methods of generosity and patience. Throughout many years of an adventurous belief in the Christian principle of human brotherhood, the Society of Friends has seen the triumph of good-will in all forms of human crisis.

The peoples of every land are longing for the time when love shall conquer hate, when cooperation shall replace conflict, when war shall be no more. This time will come only when the people of some great nation dare to abandon the outworn traditions of internationall dealing and to stake all upon persistent good-will.

We are the nation and now is the time. This is America's supreme opportunity.

Unflinching good-will, no less than war, demands courage, patriotism, and self- sacrifice. To such a victory over itself, to such a leadership of the world, to such an embodiment of the matchless, invincible power of good-will, this otherwise tragic hour challenges our country.

Friendsí National Peace Committee
20 South Twelfth Street
Philadelphia, Pa.