Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Opposite of War Is Not To Do Nothing

Having read the piece in the First Month Friends Journal about Fox and the use of violence by the state, (suggested in the comment to the post below...) I have a few observations.

First, since that time we have learned a lot about the intention of states regarding war. We have seen the Gulf of Tonkin, the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima to keep Russia from invading Japan from the North, and heard the Nixon secret tapes ... it is more apparent that few wars are fought for the reasons given to the soldiers. We must weigh the stated reasons for war against the failure to bomb the rail lines to the concentration camps.

But, more, we are not practicing Foxizm, we are Quakers. In Fox's day there are examples of the success of nonviolence in the face of terror. I follow this with a ballad I wrote from a letter of Thomas Lurting, a contemporary of Fox. I must also state that I was amazed that a Quaker would think that the opposite of violence is to do nothing, as the article in Friends Journal intimates.

The Ballad of Thomas Lurting

Words Lorcan Otway Tune Traditional, all rights reserved.

Oh my name is Thomas Lurting, and a press gang has taken me
on board of a well found vessel, to fight the Irish on the sea
It being in the time of the long Parliament,
I, but a lad of fourteen years
and amid the smoke and the thunder,
I became a man immune to fears

I became a Bos'uns Mate and, two hundred sailors were at my command
'til we pressed some Quaker fellows while fighting in a distant land
They would not conform to worship,
when called upon to sing and pray
and I was told to beat them,
but a voice within me my hand did stay

And so it was I became convinced, and even my captain's sword I faced
But I was so changed completely, I was discharged with some small haste
for fear our gentle leadings, would spread like vines amongst our crew
and I was placed ashore then, to find my life had begun anew

I joined a Quaker vessel, and was bound out from Venice Town
while off Spanish May York, by Turk corsairs our Katch was found
we offered them no battle, but welcomed them as a Friend to me
and they ordered us to sail for, Algeria and our slavery

At length they grew to trust us, one night they all asleeping lay
And I crept amongst them all, for to take their knives and swords away
we locked them in the cabin and, set sail upon our former course
but soon there came a great wailing,
and their captain comenced this grim discourse

Should you take us to your home, Englishmen,
there hanged we all will surely be
of this we are well frightened and beg of you some small pity
we spoke our crew together, and then in spite of all our fear
we would return our captives, to their own shore which they called Algere

We soon lay off their homeland our eyes searched for their men of war
Myself and two others chose to row the Turks to their bleak shore
We reached those stranger's sandy beach, and feared we all seize-ed would be
for there were ten Turkish pirate men, and far from our ship we were but three

But we set them on their native land, and they embraced us with tears of joy
and waving as we rowed away, such was the love we did enjoy
we set our sails for England but our story had before us flew
and Charles our King, and the Duke of York, awaited us, I tell thee true

King Charles viewed us darkly, "Why did you not bring these foes to me?"
Said I, "I thought, it better they dwell in their own country.
"The king gazed at we Quakers as grim and stern as he could be,
then laughing he embrace-ed us, and here I will end my tale for thee

So rest in that which can do good, when evil shall show a face to thee
let this be the way of all true Friends, when thee confronts adversity
fear not upon the wildest shore, but lovingly look in the stranger’s eye
and remember thy Friend Thomas Lurting, for now in my final peace I lie.


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