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 07, 2005

An Open Letter to Congressman Duncan Hunter

Dear Friend, Duncan Hunter,
Congressman for the 52 district of CA.:

It might not surprise thee to learn that I am not in unity with thy idea that war can change the world. My reading of the long history of war on this planet has been that change happens in spite of war.

I must point to one quote in thy speech on US Policy in Iraq, on 12\6\05, which I found to be troubling. You said "if we do not change the world, the world will change us." This is clearly a turn around on a famous quote from a young member of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers. This young man was standing a peace vigil, with a sign in midtown New York during World War II. A man asked him if he thought he would change the world by his witness. "No, but I will not be changed by the world."

We Quakers, did not let the world change us when, in England we were killed for our faith. Mary Dyer, who gave herself over to be hanged in Boston in 1660, when our faith was outlawed, who said, "Truth is my authority, not authority my truth, did not let the world change her. The Friends who did not take Pennsylvania from the original people by force of arms, unique in the American experience, did not let the world change them. The Friends who risked life and property to conduct escaped Africans north to Canada upon the invisible rails of the underground railroad, did not let the world change them. The Quakers who shared prison cells of fear and torture with our Amish and Mennonite and Brethren brothers, during World War I, when our objection to military service was not recognized in the United States, we did not let the world change us. In a world of violence, we have not asked for or accepted the false protection of violence, we will not be changed by a world at war.

These are some of the many acts of courage that saves liberty. Liberty does not live in a clearing maintained at the cost of the lives of others, it lives in a heart that recognizes that truth is authority. That is what Benjamin Franklin meant when he said that a nation which trades liberty for security deserves neither. This war has cost this nation liberty and cost many people their lives.

As I write this, I worry for the lives of the CPT members held in Iraq, including a co-religionist of ours, in Tom Fox, we Friends join many praying for the lives of innocent and guilty alike in Iraq and other places that suffer from the blindness of war.

I ask that, rather than turning the words of brave pacifists around, thee might seek to understand them in their original meaning...

War may be able to stop hearts, but it can never change hearts.

Thyne in the light,

Lorcan Otway

Religious Society of Friends
also known as Quakers


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