As the Religious Society of Friends, Quakers act in faith to create a world free from war, with equity and justice for all, where every person’s potential may be fulfilled, and where we live in right relationship with the earth. We do not expect such a world to emerge easily, but we are convinced by our faith and experience that building a more peaceful, just, and sustainable global community is possible. Following the advice of William Penn, we seek to “try what love can do” to advance such a world. From the Introduction to Shared Security, Reimagining U.S. Foreign Policy: A Working Paper of the American Friends Service Committee and Friends Committee on National Legislation, April 2013.
Through organizations like the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), and collaborative projects such as the Shared Security initiative, time-honored Quaker values continue to offer answers for today’s global challenges. For Christ to be credible to those of other faiths or no faith at all, people must see in action our stated conviction that everyone is valuable in God’s eyes — not just those who think like us, look like us and live where we live.
The Shared Security Working Paper offers U.S. policy makers concrete, common sense attitudes and strategies in line with Quaker values, ideas that are being offered to as options for addressing current global issues. Below is a brief description of some of the ideas. To read the entire Working Paper, visit the website: sharedsecurity.org
• Human security: Instead of focusing primarily on the safety of nation-states, those who study peace and conflict issues urge the adoption of a new human security model. This puts the safety and well-being of individuals and their communities as a top priority. It requires starting the problem-solving at the local level and recognizes that stress can come from environmental degradation, economic injustice and public health crises. Effort is aimed at building well-functioning communities rather than destroying perceived enemies.
• Global security: Replace the importance of state sovereignty with the broader view of global security. U.S. foreign policy should be directed toward building cooperative and effective international institutions, which serve to strengthen international law rather than narrowly pursue national interests.
• Shared security: Our world is inextricably bound together even while it is constantly changing. Both global and local solutions are key to solving today’s problems. None of us are safe unless all are safe.
Motives matter. Isaiah 58 makes it abundantly clear. God is not impressed with religious acts that are self-serving, but rather delights in his people when we “Break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts.” (Isaiah 58:6 Message Bible) If I hope to speak Christ to the world, my actions for peace must translate into good for others, not just for me.
Faith matters, too. I recently enjoyed reading The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg. As he digs deeply into the concept of faith, Borg says historically at the core of Christianity there are four meanings of faith. Most will recognize the familiar definition of faith as belief, but faith also means trust, commitment, and a “way of seeing.” If we see the world as hostile or threatening, our natural reaction is defensiveness. We’ll be too fearful to seek global security when our own hide seems in peril. However, if we see creation as life-giving and nourishing, as a gift to us from a loving God, anxiety subsides. There is room for all, plenty for all, and safety for all, if we work toward that goal.
Noell Krughoff and her husband Tom are newly appointed FUM representatives to Friends Committee on National Legislation. They attend First Friends Meeting in Indianapolis and live in rural Shelby County, Indiana.