Can you picture this? There were 425 Quakers from programmed meetings, un-programmed meetings, evangelical Friends churches, and other Quaker organizations from all across the United States, joyfully traipsing all over Capitol Hill on November 2 and 3 this year. About 54 of those Friends were from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Imagine! You would think there would be much silence, but no! Though there was worship, we were raising our voices to insist that thereby no increase to the Pentagon budget. We were encouraging a budget with a moral base, pressing for care for people, and speaking out against a bloated Pentagon budget with no accountability at all, even to Congress. We were passionate in holding our representatives to account. We, as constituents, urged them to do the right thing by all the people in their districts. Money for health care, for food stamps, for housing subsidies, for education, and for care for the elderly should not be cut to meet the increases in the budget for military equipment.
In the visit to Senator Toomey’s office, there were 25 Friends, all of whom knew we were trudging up a stubborn hill. But the stories we told of personal experiences with veterans, of conditions in the city of Philadelphia, of health care needs, were powerful and demanded attention. We also had 25 people in Sen. Casey’s office, where we received a warm welcome as we shared some individual stories of working in non-profits overseas during a crisis, where the money for diplomacy and development grew much more capacity for peace than military outposts. We told a story about the pain and hopelessness in veterans’ hospitals, hoping that WE WOULD MAKE NO MORE VETERANS. We heard that Sen. Casey hopes for our support as he tries to uphold the Iran deal, seeks more funding for poor families, and pushes for an audit of Pentagon spending. We promised those to him and encourage any of you who feel likewise to write to him in support of those issues.
The 54 stalwart Quakers then divided up to visit representatives from their individual legislative districts. Those districts stretched the length and breadth of PYM itself. We represented you all in bringing basic Quaker testimonies to bear on the legislative process. We advocated for peaceful solutions, healthy communities, justice and equality, and restoring our earth. And we were hoarse afterward!