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by its very nature, is unworldly,
is the foundation of our faith as Quakers. A Quaker life is a journey on a road
from love towards love. In my father's part of the world, we call a road builder,
a navie. The word comes from the activity of navigating around, through and
over the obstacles which would keep the road from going from its start to its
destination. I am here, today, as a member of the Quaker Peace Committee of
the 15th St. Friends Meeting, as one of the navies on the road to peace. Last
month our road to peace confronted a terrible obstacle, the violent oppression
of the Hindu population of Bangladesh.
Ireland, while traveling over remote bogs, I learned to recognize grown over
bog holes. These are deep lakes over which a thin layer of turf have grown.
They are flat and green and inviting to walk on, but when you do, you see the
ground ripple, and know, if you break through, you will drown, trapped under
the turf. Sometimes when navigating the bog, you must avoid the easy path ahead,
and take the rougher road, built on solid ground.
is an enticement to take an easy road. Violence confronts us, and in our anger
and pain and fear, the easy choice seems to be a violent response, kill or be
killed. But a good navie will avoid that bog hole, that quicksand, and find
the more difficult road, built on solid ground.
friend Bidyut Sarker has confronted us with, what in our Quaker tradition we
would call a concern, but that word fails to convey, outside our community,
the depth of terror his words conveyed. The Hindu community in Bangladesh faces
the worst kind of fear and pain which humans can visit upon each other. What
can we do to successfully navigate on this stretch of road?
of you know what we have done in the past. In the dark days of American slavery,
we navies built an underground railroad, a hidden path where conductors helped
our American family members held in bondage, to escape to Canada. But, that
was not enough, we had to advertise the road's end, an America without slavery,
and many of us became outspoken abolitionists. In that role, we confronted apathy,
another evil which diverts the peace road. Great evil happens when the world
government of the United States, more and more, responds to evil in the world
by the use of the military. More and more, this takes the form of bombing from
the air. Military thinking leads to strategic planning, global military planning,
where huge violations of human rights in small or distant lands are ignored
until they threaten the United States. Then we send in bombers to make peace.
Each bomb that falls, kills some people and makes enemies of more people. These
reactive military responses have never worked. Wars have gotten bigger and more
destructive as war evolves. We navies for peace must call for proactive work
towards peace, as the abolitionists called for an end to slavery, to call attention
to the road towards love.
We pledge to keep our doors open to the Hindus of Bangladesh, to keep our hearts open to your pain, to open ourselves to solutions on the firm ground to peace.
We undertake to hold a light to the threat which you face - to speak out and remain navies and conductors, on the road to love.
The author is with the Peace Committee of the 15th Street Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
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