A Call to Peace

Joint Statement of New York Yearly Meeting,
American Friends Service Committee, New York Metropolitan Region
and Quaker United Nations Office
September 29, 2001

With the attacks on our city and our country on September 11, 2001, we have experienced the fruits of hatred. We mourn with the loved ones of all who were killed or injured, recognizing that there was that of God in each and every one. We grieve the loss of shared memories and dreams, and a sense of security and well-being. We understand more deeply now the pain and suffering endured by our brothers and sisters in countries where similar acts of terror have been perpetrated. We share a deep and abiding sorrow that such terrible events might ever occur. We look upon our city and weep that we have yet to learn the ways of peace.

At the same time, we have experienced the fruits of love and a sense of hope. We have seen countless acts of quiet compassion and genuine heroism from children and adults. We have gratefully received the outpouring of prayers and help from within our own neighborhoods, from throughout the country, and from other continents. We have been embraced by people of all faiths and goodwill throughout the world. Kindness is commonplace. We emerge with a renewed sense of hope and are encouraged in our endeavors to reach out to the diversity of people and faiths within our own communities.

In the midst of cries for retribution, retaliation and revenge, we are powerfully led to sound a cry for reason and restraint. We can never unite with wanton action that would result in the killing of innocents. We support only the use of such means as are consonant with peace. We believe that actively working towards peace in the world is a strong and powerful response to the attacks that we suffered. Dangerous and risky as our peacework may seem, we are guided and shielded in our efforts by God's grace. Because we are not afraid, we are empowered to speak, challenging those whose hearts and minds seem closed to the possibility of peaceful resolution. We seek to be patterns and examples wherever we are.

Inherent in our cry for peace, is the call for justice. Those responsible for the terrible suffering of September 11 should be held accountable under the rule of law. Furthermore, we ask that we and the international community act through the multilateral auspices of the United Nations rather than encourage the unilateral efforts of our nation, however grievously it has suffered.

We ask that the date of September 11 become a defining moment in our history, that in response to the horrific acts of that day people of goodwill the world over commit to the building up of a culture of peace. In a spirit of remorse and humility, may each one of us, individuals, communities and countries alike, examine our lives and our practices to identify the ways in which we are complicit in advancing the cause of violence. We seek to live in that life and power that takes away the occasion for all war.

As affiliated bodies within the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) we ask that F(f)riends engage anew the reality of our peace testimony. The

Declaration of Friends to Charles II in 1660 embodies the historical underpinning of this peace testimony.

    We utterly deny all outward wars and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or any pretense whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world. . . . The Spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable so as once to command us from a thing as evil, and again to move us unto it; and we certainly know, and testify to the world, that the Spirit of Christ which leads us into all truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the Kingdom of Christ nor for the Kingdoms of this world. . . . Therefore, we cannot learn war any more.

May we join our hearts with people worldwide, in whose faith and practice is embedded a parallel commitment to peace. John Woolman in 1746 recognized the universality of the principle of peace when he wrote:

    There is a principle which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages hath had different names. It is, however, pure and proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no forms of religion nor excluded from any, where the heart stand in perfect sincerity. In whomsoever this takes root and grows, of what nation whatsoever, they become brethren.

We recognize the infinite ocean of light and love which flows over the ocean of darkness and death. We bear witness to the power of God which is over all. This is our testimony and this is our plea to the world. Let us see what love can do.

Linda Chidsey, Clerk, New York Yearly Meeting New York Yearly Meeting
Lisa Gasstrom, Clerk, American Friends Service Committee, New York Metropolitan Regional Office
Ernestine Buscemi, Clerk, Quaker United Nations Office
Elizabeth Enloe, Regional Director, AFSC New York Metropolitan Regional Office
Jack Patterson, Quaker United Nations Representative, Quaker United Nations Office