Statement on Recent Acts of Violence

Communications, PYM, Quaker Life Council, Religious Education

Quakers are holding in prayer and the light the families and loved ones of those who we lost at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018, at the Kroger grocery store in Kentucky on October 24, 2018, and in other acts of hate that will go untold.

We are called to name these as acts of antisemitism, racism, and bigotry. As a Faith centered in the belief that each person has God’s light within them, we are trying to address the culture of violence, isolation, and hate in our society. We are concerned that certain uses of internet and other media outlets foster a climate that embraces such acts of hate.

To heal from these, we are called to respond nonviolently, with love as our primary impulse.

Personally, between one shock to the system and the next, we may find this call to be tremendously difficult to follow. These days, we have little time even to mourn let alone consider how to move forward. We wonder what to tell our children.

The Civil Rights leader and author, Bayard Rustin—who was deeply influenced by Quaker and Gandhian nonviolence—wrote something that some may find helpful, in a letter to the children of Cleveland on December 3, 1969:

“…we cannot hope to achieve democracy and equality in such a way that would destroy the very kind of society which we hope to build. If we desire a society of peace, then we cannot achieve such a society through violence. If we desire a society without discrimination, then we must not discriminate against anyone in the process of building this society…If we can build such a society, then we would have achieved the ultimate goal of human freedom.”

In the work that we do, we sometimes feel like we are digging holes in the ocean. But we are reminded that we all share a relationship with God and to each other. As long as there are people like us, centering our actions in love, holding each other up, there will be resilience.

In the words of A.J. Muste, another organizer influenced by Quakerism, “There is no way to peace; peace is the way.” We add: There is no way to love, love is the way. There is no way to beloved community, beloved community is the way.


*This statement was read today, 10/30/18, by Melinda Wenner Bradley, PYM Youth Engagement Coordinator, at a press conference organized by CAIR-Philadelphia.