Skip to main content

tv   World War I and Religious Peace Groups  CSPAN  November 24, 2017 10:10pm-11:23pm EST

10:10 pm
their idea. >> sunday night at 8 eastern. on q and a. on c-span. >> up next. members of the quaker and other christian peace organizations discuss the response of the group to british and american entry into world war i. this one hour ten minute discussion was part of a conference hosted by the national world war i museum and memorial in kansas city, missouri. >> good morning. and welcome to this forum on genesis and persistence in advocacy for peace. faith organizations. my name is john roth. editor of the review and professor of history at a
10:11 pm
liberal arlts school in indiana. i'm delighted to serve as moderator. anyone who has taken a tour of the museum here has seen footage of the flag waving parades of enthusiastic young conscripts as they departed from military training camp in the summer of 1917. might have the impression that support for the war and the united states entry into the conflict was universal. yet those of us gathered here for the conference are keenly aware there were many voices of caution, of dissent. of objection, and even open resis tense to the war fever that seemed to grip the nation. in the spring and summer of 1917. adds we will hear in the days that follow, that dissent
10:12 pm
originated for dimpt sources and took many expressions. one of the lead edges of resistance to the war came from various religious groups. mostly christian. who couldn't in good conscience set aside the clear teachings of jesus that called his followers to love all people of the world. including and perhaps especially their enemies. this morning we will hear from four groups. still in existence today whose voices emerged with particular clarity in opposition to the war. and in defense of those individuals who for reasons of conscience could not participate. these four groups the british friends or quakers. the american friends service committee. the fellowship of reconciliation. and men nite central committee were by no means the only groups
10:13 pm
who organized in opposition to the war. but they have each demonstrated an amazing resilience through the years in their witness to rem silluation and peace. and all of them continue to give voice to conscientious dissent in the face of violence and warfare. that is so much a part of our reality today. the format of the session will be roughly as follows. each of the panelist will first come to the podium and share a brief history. not more than ten minutes of their organization with the particular focus of the nature of its witness in world war i. and the religious or faith elements that sustained that witness. i will follow up with one or two questions to the panelists from the table here. and then we will open it up to you the audience for additional
10:14 pm
questions. i encourage you as you form your questions to keep them focussed with the goal of including as many voices as possible. in the conversation. i'm deeply grateful to each of the representatives of the organizations who have adpreeed to be with us. you will find in your programs on pages 23 and 24 a full biography of each of the presenters and a short description of the organization. so i won't repeat all of that here. and we will proceed in the following order. jane dau son will introduce us to the british friends. don davis will speak on behalf of the american friends service committee. max hesz will speak about the fellowship of reconciliation. and james will describe the origin and work of mennen nite
10:15 pm
central committee. thank you, panelists. >> good morning, friends. the religious society of friends better known as the quakers. i'm going to use the term quakers and friends interchangeably this morning. so please excuse me if you get confused. you are all our friends that some of those friends are quakers too. i also excuse me british accent. if you don't understand anything perhaps during the question and
10:16 pm
answer you can pick me up on that. so who are the quakers? the quakers have always believed in peace. but the root of our christian theology is that love is in the heart of all existence. we believe all humans are unique and equal. we believe in christian practice and christian experience of god. versus dogma and theology. we are experson shl religion. we believe god is in every person. many of you here will have heard of quaker peace testimony. and there are many versions. i'm read a snippet from one of the versions of the quaker peace
10:17 pm
testimony. we utterly deny all out ward wars and strife. and fighting without weapons. for any end or under any pretense whatsoever. and this is our testimony to the world. that version of the full version of that was presented in 1660. to the british monarch charles lt second. british quakers started around 1650. at a time of huge religious political turmoil in the country. the civil war there was a period where there was no monarchy. and a new restored monarchy. many dissenters. quakers wanted to set themselves apart and demonstrate that they were a peaceful people. and they published the peace testimony and presented it to charles the 2 to demonstrate
10:18 pm
they wouldn't take up arms in any situation. so you think the british quakers woud find it easy to come to unity when britain declared war. in 1914. however that was far from the case. i'm going to read a quotation from our representative body. known as meeting for sufferings. meeting for sufferings was originally created to record the suffering the persecution of quakers in britain. we still have meeting for sufferings held over couple of months in london. in 1914 meeting for sufferings wrote, while as a society we stand firmly to the belief that the method of force is no solution of any question, we hold that the present moment is not one for criticism.
10:19 pm
but for devoted service to our nation. that's quite a surprise. people often expect us to be pacifist. in fact in 1914, over 200 young men were the recruited into the armed forces and some were recruiters themselves. there's also another group of young men who were alternativists. they joined or created the friends ambulance unit. and they went out to france and they set up with ambulances and they carried the wounded, the sick. they cared for them and looked after the corpses. and they did a remarkable job. the whole society wasn't with them at that time. then there were quakers who were absolutely against the war.
10:20 pm
the society was not united. however by 1915, a year later, quakers in britain were the only church to publicly oppose the war. so what happened? as ever, we're led to a disruptive idea in our religious thinking by young people. they challenged us. they took us out to the front and came back and told us the stories there. we heard the stories of people who were so opposed to the war they they wouldn't have any part in it. we also heard the stories of people who felt the war would be over quicker if we fought. it was a painful and difficult year. but what really happened at the
10:21 pm
center of the debate was a religious moment. a moment of finding who we were. we believe there is that of god in everyone. and if you believe that, not only can yo not kill somebody, but you cannot compel another person to kill somebody. we believe in individual conscience for all. and that is what united us. the fact that whatever your decision your personal conscience you cannot make anyone else kill on your behalf. we return to our radical roots. yet we were still part of the establishment. in britain around the turn of the century about 1% of the population were quakers. we had seven members of parliament. that's lawmakers. for the american audience.
10:22 pm
we were definitely one of the established church groups. however, conscription came in 1916 was the military service act introducing conscription for all young men. conscription or the the draft was a shock to a lot of people. it wasn't something that the government at the time wanted. until the quaker three of the mps felt we drafted something called the conscience clause. britain eventually became the first country to inshrine in law conscientious objection to military service. we were able to to do this because the two quaker mps were there was a precedent already in british law.
10:23 pm
had already been conscientious objection for on an individual ground. against medical vaccination. and those two quaker mps that drafted the clause used that loophole. it was incredibly unpopular. those mps lost their seats. and quakers went down in the public esteem. you have heard this morning if you were in the session this morning about the white feathers. given to men in the streets to publicly hue mill nate and shame them because they were not in military uniform. quakers received many white feathers. but so did men who were home on leave. and so did men who had medical exemption or in protected industries. it was an indiscriminate and appalling act. here's a white feather some of
10:24 pm
you might have picked up one of the bookmarks. because conscientious objection in all its forms was so humiliating. shameful. people's businesses were broken into it. shop windows were smashed. peoples hats were knocked off. people were tarred and had feathered. a time of great trama for anybody who opposed the war. we know those stories were not told in britain. so as quakers in britain, we decided that we would tell some of the hidden stories. and we created the white feather diary. if you get a bookmark you can read in a lot more detail about quaker conscientious objector of many different hues.
10:25 pm
thank you. i have already given you a sign post to the web site. a little tiny bit about something else. before my time is completely up. i also know that those untold stories happened in my quaker meeting and my family. a member of my meeting was in prisoned in the cold, dark, really inhospitable med evil cell. and that story along with the story of one of the fellow conscientious objectors who appear in the white feather diaries called howard martin tells of his story taken from north york shire. sentenced to death and taken to the front line. i can't give you anymore than that. a taste of that story. if you want to find out how he was saved by a message in a bottle. please go along and see and hear
10:26 pm
his film. called the quiet heros. it's a fascinating story. i commend it to you. thank you. >> good morning, everyone. my name is don davis. for the american friends service committee. position i have held for about eleven years now. and jane did a very good job of covering the quaker belief. so only thing i want to do to add to that is add a quote. one of the key organizers and the first chairman of the afsc. he wrote one of the quotes he wrote friends as religious people are concerned to live in
10:27 pm
simp simple. quiet life and proclimb the faith by deeds and actions rather than words and phrases. in 1914, when the war in york begins american quakers took notice and were concerned for the potential for u.s. involvement in the war. it was obvious to quakers that if the hostility didn't end quickly that the u.s. would be drawn into the war. friends and in the u.s. pay particular interest to the actions of the british quakers and in particular the british conscious objectors to military service. who had adopted various means by which they were able to contribute. without being placed in a situation where they have to fight or be part of the war effort. despite interest and concern american friends were neither prepared to offer physical aid nor united in a means of action in the early stage of the war.
10:28 pm
since the early 1800s quakers in the united states had been dwighted. by a schism dividing them in into orthodox and the liberal side. and a splintering of the groups. efforts have been made to bring the groups together and try to unite quakers from all sides. while full reunification was never achieved the movement helped young quakers. of draft age. the young friends board in 1912 had gone onto include members across the united states from both conservative and liberal. in the years leading up to the u.s. entry into world war i members of the young friends board had become more organized and understood that when the u.s. entered the war they would be most at risk being of draft age. members of the board measured materials and spoke to quaker meetings, on college campuses
10:29 pm
and community groups about the alternatives to war. conscious objection and the effort to create alternative service. in 1917, college graduate member of the young friends board and the man who would be the first executive secretary of the ifsc wrote an article, where shall the conscientious objector draw the line? he stated the opposition to war is fundamental than the objection to the act of killing. a conviction the whole military system the spirit a denial of the way of life presented by jesus christ. it seems therefore that any activity that is holy or chiefly dominated by the war purpose even though not a carp rat part of the army is within a conscientious objection to war. he goes on later to state that the only possible solution that a problem from the stantd point of government and conscientious objector as a service holy
10:30 pm
disassociated from the spirit of war and from military service. march of 1917 on the eve of the u.s. entry into the war the frnds national peace committee issued a statement that was published in many major newspapers and magazines in the united states. in the statement they said the alternative of the war is not inactivity and coward. it is the irresistible and constructive power of goodwill. patriotism calls not for the methods of war. but invention of practice on new methods of altruistic service. the present and tolerable situation among nagtss demand an unprecedented expression of goodwill. it was this motivation to promote goodwill among nations sdp concern ore the plight of the young conscientious objectors. which prompted members of the yearly meeting.
10:31 pm
friend general conference. and the five years meeting. to meet at the young friends building in philadelphia on april 30 of 1917. and discuss the creation of an alternative form of service for young and development of a national headquarters. from that first meeting of what will be the american frebds service committee the following minute was approved. we are united nd exprszing love for our country and desire to serve her loyally. we offer our service to the government of the united states. and in any constructive work in which we can conscientiously serve humanity. the service committee began to recruit quakers and conscientious objectors. in a letter the service committee wrote you are a the standard bearers of the society of friends. this time of its dwraet crisis during the generation. we hope that you are so deeply grounded and christian principle has held by the society of friends that your conscious will lead you to act consistently
10:32 pm
with the principles. a training program was established on the campus and the summer of 1917. the lasted approximately six weeks. the unit initially consistented of 100 young people. representing quakers. principle work under taken by the unit was reconstruction relief with much of the work merged with similar work by the british friends. on september of 1917, the first group arrived in france and set about the first mission of the american friends service committee. in the few minutes i have i want to touch on the little challenges that had come up over the years. one of them has to do with the idea that the staff changing from completely volunteer staff to one that's a little bit more professional in nature. all the work that was done in the early years up until the
10:33 pm
world war ii that there was some very stropg work that was done at that time. but it was done with a volunteer staff. and that's not to say they were not professional. most were college educated. had could speak several languages and owned businesses. doctors, lawyers and specialist. one question brought up again and again and by numerous is the feeling the desire the not develop the culture of having a professional paid staff. they should remain a volunteer only organization. part of the difficulty in encountered later on with a vol steer staff were appointments lasted maybe two, three years. what's needed long term in the communities. in the 1946 board meeting, executive secretary at the time states that one of the biggest problems with the international work is training, and continuity
10:34 pm
of the staff. and the specialized training and longer term appointments of several years or more would help staff experience the knowledge, to have a greater impact. the first acknowledgment where they you can see the work is shifting from one of relief work. to more comprehensive development work. which required more level of stainability on the part of assisted communities and the adopted this. it was a difficult effort to do that. one of the other issues is the changing of the staff from becoming more representative of the communities being assisted. the took to hiring in the 1950s is really working in a lot of minority communities. african american native american. latin o. and has took to hiring members
10:35 pm
from the communities in order to give them a better voice in the work that was being done at the time. the effort from going from the relief work to being organizations that try to promote change on the policy level, i think with the awarding of the nobel peace prize to quakers in 1947. and the establishment shortly after that of the quaker united nation office. it gave the quakers more legit pla si and a platform to make the change happen. and these just three points i want to bring up. to show the evolution of the organization over the years. challenges, evolution and reorganization. over the past 100 yaers but remains committed to the belief and worth of every person and the faith and transforms power of love and goodwill to over come violence and injustice. thank you.
10:36 pm
>> good norng. my name is max. the interim executive director. i'm going to be talking about genesis. but about persistence. the at forwe always tell our genesis store. whether it's in the pap el title or not. and this is how it goes. building on recent achievements such as the creation of the international court of justice at the hague. there was a follow up conference
10:37 pm
in switzerland in early august 1914. on the eve of world war i. the conference drew largely from germany and from the uk. and as the story goes, the war broke out during the conference. when the german lutheran frederick and the british quaker henry hoj kin parted company, they vowed never to be at war with one another. for was founded later in 1914. at cam bridge england. and the u.s. branch was founded a year later in november 1915. in garden city, new york. a war resister in germany. he was not mentioned yesterday. he was the chaplain to the kizer. and faith charge of the death
10:38 pm
penalty. which was not executed on him. i'm going to divide up for history into two phases. one up to world war ii. i'll call that non-resistance. and a phase after world war ii. more or less to the present. from the beginning for at least in this country was an interdenomination al pros tant affair. start ng the 1920s at least in the united states. it took interfaith steps with collaboration between christian and juish practitioner. the dialogue was largely in christian terms. an editor for for publish contaminati -- broke with for.
10:39 pm
and left the christian pacifist behind as being naive about human deprivety. and he was responded to by george mcgregor. who was a dean at the university of and vice chair of for in great britain. and he responded in a track that was published by for during world war ii. so responding to his doctrine and human depravity. he lifts up the new testament of incarnation. holy spirit and interprets non-resistance as non-retaliation. and he suggests mcgregor does that the greek of the new test want may have been a mistranslation. and the crucial non-resistance sayings of matthew. that's the kind of debate that went on prior to world war ii. but in his track, mcgregor
10:40 pm
sunlights that christian pacifism practiced in his time might have been a particular response to the horrors of world war i. and not necessarily an absolute understanding for all times and places. and indeed in the peace movement and in the for up to world war ii, there was something of the 19th century confidence in the perfectibility of human society and human kind. which is not to say that they were all just dreamers. they were also concrete achievements as well. consider a new interpretation that's been made of the out law removement in which for was involved. the out law removement gave us the ridiculed pact out lawing war. but that pact later served in a new interpretation as a basis for stripping the accused of
10:41 pm
their immunity defense. so they could be prosecuted under criminal law. and also served as the model for article two. in the in charter. so that is an achievement. now it's an achievement sort of along the lines of pinker who was referenced earlier today. for me, i'll move into the next phase. the turning point comes in for in the 1930 ds and 40s. and it reaches its shining crystallization in doctor kings 1967 address at the river side church. coauthored by harding. that names the triplet of racism, militarism, and materialism. but that turning point begins much earlier.
10:42 pm
when the mechanic gregor acknowledges his understanding of pacifism was limited in time. and that turning point begins for me with a delegation organized by howard and sue bailey in the 1930s of african american pacifist to india to meet ghandi. and it's interesting to contemplate in this context rusten and for's involvement in the nations first freedom ride. in 1947. which they called a journey of reconciliation. and which rusten justifies with reference to principles of non-violence after thur good marshall questioned it. and it is rusten who drags for into modernity in another way. by not showing shame about homo
10:43 pm
sexuality. it was evidently too much for christian dominated for. which pushed rusten off the staff in 1953. he non-the less maintained a close relationship with for and went over to the war resisters league. a secular group. and you'll hear about that. but on another panel. rusten then with the resisters league but working together with his former colleague glen smiley. they work with king using non-violence principles and ideas in the montgomery busboy cot. that leads us in my understanding to a trajectory to the 1967 address. i want to tell you about what for is doing today. we focus on resisting state violence. especially against people of
10:44 pm
color. and other manifestation of white supremacy. and we have had mobilizations in the last few years and in ferguson and baltimore. in hartford in twin cities and dallas and other places. and we have been in charlottesville and st. louis. so i ask myself is this another turning point for for? or is it a continuation of the legacy that was brought to us by the thurman's and rusten and smiley, james law son, harding and king? and i don't know. it feels a little different. but it might be the same trajectory. so those are my comments. thank you for your attention.
10:45 pm
>> my name is james. im the retired history teacher at college in kansas. and historian and would be peace historian. world war i was a double barrel civic crisis for men nits in american. pacifists who refused to participate in wartime killing. they were also a german speaking people. their american neighbors filled with war and enthusiasm and antigerman hostility subjected them to scorn and persecution. the fact that mennen nits prosper economically during the war didn't help this sense of hostility. on the part of neighbors who sent their sons to kill and die,
10:46 pm
fight in the war. one men nite moral alternative to war was b. i'll focus on that more than politics. generally provided food and relief for victims of war. the going back to the origin. in the 16th century. they found encouragement in the scripture to meet the needs of people suffering in the war. and there was a need in local communities to provide an answer to the accusation that men nits were unacceptable citizens who didn't contribute to the popular
10:47 pm
war effort. the very idea of a men nite central committee runs against deviciveness. division into many different groups. and one could talk about some of the differences. the most fundamental cultural difference is between the pennsylvania men no nits. he's of the mississippi who speak their own dialect. and the dutch russian mennen nights who came belatedly to the u.s. to the frontier. where we stand. and some 15,000 men nights settled from kansas, nebraska,
10:48 pm
dakota, manitoba. central committee brought the different together. in ways that would have that couldn't happen before world war i. and did happen then in the 1920 and following. mennitis in russia suffered bitterly during an immediately after world war i. mennenit mennenitis wanted to help. in the 1870s. and had been providing aid for the brothers and sisters in the faith in the decades in the decades following. so there was a tradition of providing aid mutual aid in that way.
10:49 pm
when there was a famine. in russia. americans wanted to come and distribute food and other forms of help to their brothers and sisters in the faith. but the russian government refused to allow them in. for we'll be hearing more about a russian american relationship. and the wake of world war i. eventually the way was opened by herbert hoover. wartime food administrator and chairman of the american relief administration. hoover invited private agencies. quakers. lutheran and to provide relief
10:50 pm
in different areas where people were suffering in russia. during the post war famine and particularly 1922 and 23. men nite central committee spent 1,300,000 dollars and fed 75,000 people in russia, including people in the areas of greatest mennonite settlement. we didn't just go to give food to mennonites. in fact, the relief administration required that we help everybody in need in these particular areas. mennonite central committee declined in the late '20s and the 1930s but flourished during and after world war ii. in subsequent decades, their relief and development programs have expanded remarkably throughout the world.
10:51 pm
mennonite benevolent giving on a per capita basis has outranked that of most other religious or secular groups. part of this dynamic, of course, has been the effort of a relatively small protestant denomination itself and a culture ethnic group to find an acceptable place in american society. even as we quoted scripture for the basis of what we were doing, i have argued that being good americans was part of the story. during and after world war ii mennonite central committee's relief and development work in the name of christ spread rapidly throughout the world. by 19866 mcc had over 1,000 workers assigned and working in different countries involved in
10:52 pm
different programs. thousand also volunteered their time in generating policies for the ministry. mennonite central committee was a training ground in international consciousness for north american mennonites. in the early decades, mcc workers were mostly volunteers, often young people without specialized training to meet specific needs. in the late 20th century as happened with the quakers as we've heard, there was a shift to workers with specialized training in various kinds of development. a movement toward professionalization which involved the payment of more adequate salaries to workers rather than -- rather than volunteers. another shift was from administration by north american mennonites towards the appointment of program administrators from the receiving countries. mcc has become important to
10:53 pm
mennonite peoplehood and community identity. substantial funding of mcc's budget today comes from regional folk festivals and auctions, sometimes called relief sales where donated specialized craft items such as quilts are sold. throughout north america more than 100 self-help craft stores sell craft items created by overseas workers. one of these stores is here in kansas city at overland park, in fact, on santa fe drive. the ministries of mcc have expanded in ways that the founding generation could not have imagined in the immediate wake of world war i. the world war i experience influenced the mennonite peace witness. mennonite's were not involved
10:54 pm
hardly at all in the -- in the political effort to keep the united states out of the war before the declaration of war, but then the civilian public service program for conscientious objectors to war during world war ii took its shape after the failure of policies in -- in military camps in 1917 and 1918. mennonites provided more draftees, more conscientious objectors than other groups, that is a higher percentage of mennonites than of socialists or other groups. in 1942 mennonite central committee created a peace section to address problems related to the military draft, to represent mennonite interests in the government and to be a
10:55 pm
center for study, research and writing about the peace position. this peace section, especially in its early years, rooted its testimony clearly in christ and in the bible. they intended to distinguish the mennonite witness from humanitarian or moralistic passivism. in the background were these old tensions, not always stated openly but i guess we were not sure that quaker peace witness was -- or that quakers in general were interested in the bible foremost. we established our identity by quoting the bible more than you did. the peace section with its main
10:56 pm
office in akron, pennsylvania, opened an office in washington, an office that did not claim to be a lobby but helped mennonite's witness to government officials about peace concerns. the peace section brought overseas volunteers to share information about situations in foreign countries with government foreign policy officials. the peace section office maintained a relatively quiet and unobtrusive profile compared to other peace lobbies. but some scholars have noted over the decades mennonite peace making shifted from non-resistant quietism to a more strident activism. strident would maybe overstate the case. in any case, mcc became increasingly open to cooperation with other peace-minded agencies. mennonites contributed to the
10:57 pm
broader peace movement in other ways. prominent mennonite theologians -- now, mennonite in their history have -- are latecomers to systematic theology, but they've blossomed. and my time is up. okay. i do want to -- oh, let me name two of our main theologians. john howard yoder and gordon coffman from notre dame and harvard university. the heart of mennonite identity it needs to be emphasized is located in local congregations that develop their own ways of maintaining a peace witness. maybe that will do.
10:58 pm
thank you. [ applause ] >> i want to thank all of our panelists for exercising the discipline of compressing 100 years of identity formation, of origins, of witness into this brief synopsis. fortunately, we do have some time to hear -- to hear a bit more from each of the groups represented here. i would like to start that conversation with a question that any of you can pick up as you see fit. it is a question that may sound more critical than i intend it to. each of our groups represented here has been active for over a century, and yet we read the headlines today and we see that
10:59 pm
the united states and to some extent its british allies are involved in a war in afghanistan, we have covert drone strikes in pakistan, iraq and syria. we have rising lines of tension in turkey and russia, israel, palestine, and of course we currently are facing once again the threat or at least the shadow of a possible nuclear war. so i guess one question i would like each of you to reflect on a little bit is how do you measure success in -- as you think about your institutions or your groups? related to that, sort of what are the cutting-edge challenges today that might be different than they were 100 years ago? >> perhaps i can start?
11:00 pm
>> please. >> measurement of peace activities is bon one of the hrt things to do and i'm sure we agree with that. one of the things that came out of the first world war is british quakers became the peace church we love today. we have always been peace loving, but the challenge that the first world war gave us to become a really active peace church rather than being a quietest church has taken us forward. from that time we've been able to build on the back story of our many years in influencing people in high office to work behind the scenes. much of the quaker -- and i'm sure american quakers as well -- the work goes on in the u.n., quiet circles of support, allowing politicians to speak outside of the big set debates so that conflicts have been averted because of some of the
11:01 pm
opportunities that quakers and others have provided for politicians to try and find solutions outside that. so those are the -- we call that kind of work small circle work, and it has happened around the world. we have work in africa that is doing a lot of that. but we've also stepped into conflict areas around the world to help much more clearly offer communities help in conflict resolution, offer them skills. how we measure that, it is very challenging, but we do have one or two things we can actually point to such as the kenyan elections where they failed to hold elections because of the violence in communities, and then with the support of quakers and other peace builders in kenya the communities were able to take part in elections two years after a series of trainings for communities to overcome conflict. so we have a number of successes, but those quiet
11:02 pm
circles, they're not possible to measure easily. but we know that they have differences, we do know, for example, we worked in northern ireland to overcome the troubles there and quakers -- quaker house was absolutely instrumental in making sure the troubles ended. >> thank you. we need a history of wars that didn't happen. >> yes, that's a good point. >> i have to say it gets a little depressing sometimes when you look at things. i have a great poster in my office that -- from 1921 that talks about the -- the military budget, and i keep thinking, we're working on that now. from 1921 to now, one of the things i often tell people, while i don't promote plague arism, i say, if you want to write something, go back in the files, change the dates and names and there we go. we have already dealt with that issue, we are dealing with it again. a lot of things just get repeated over time. but it is encouraging to see some of the work that's going on. one of the things i would have
11:03 pm
to point to currently is the afc work in north korea. afc has been working behind the scenes in north korea for about 35 years now, and with recent tensions and things going on there we're still trying to push that. we have just released daniel jasper, who is our policy person in washington who works on the north korea issues, just put together a new booklet on engagement with north korea. i think that is the real thrust of afc's work, is trying to find solutions and trying to meet things halfway. there are two issues that are kind of on the table right now with north korea. even though all of the stuff is going on there, one of them is family reunification. a lot of the people who were forced to leave during the war left many loved ones behind and there has been a -- there was an effort to do a state-sanctioned reunification of these families,
11:04 pm
and it was going on earlier and it kind of like ground to a halt within the past couple of months, i would say, but it is something that is still there. there are still some back channels that can be can worked to pick that work up again. the other thing is our trying to get the remains of u.s. service men who died during the korean war. now korea -- north korea has basically said that they have some remains ready to go. this has been done in the past, and they're ready to do it again, but there just seems to be a little resistance on the part of the u.s. to try and make these things happen. there's -- these are just channels and ways that we can start working on little problems. the hope is that if you can get these little things and get these little engagements going that they can sprout. we've seen that happen before with afc's work in doing farming
11:05 pm
education in north korea, and it has really helped them develop more yield and develop very great relations between the people who do the work here in the u.s. and the north korean farmers. so there are channels out there to make this stuff work, it is just we have to -- we have to take the lead and we have to get the government to start taking the lead on some of these issues as well. >> thank you. max? >> you could tell from my comments our focus more is now since the '60s, since the '50s is there's no -- there's no -- there's no justice, no peace. so we're focused on a number of issues including in -- you know, in the domestic sphere, but always using principles of non-violence and reconciliation. but we do have work still that
11:06 pm
you could characterize as on the international level or with peace -- peace-making groups. a couple of examples goes it is mostly communities. we have delegations to palestine and israel, interfaith peace builders. we have peace presence missions in colombia where people live in communities that are subject to violence, and so they as outsiders and third parties may inhibit that violence and also can record it. we've had delegations to iran, community delegations. so we're doing that work, and i would say on the policy level now days it is mostly in collaboration with other groups. >> perhaps as jim is reflecting on mcc, if there's a question from the audience, if you want to start making your way to the microphone that would be great.
11:07 pm
>> the question is what is success, how do you measure success. one mennonite answer is you have success when you have established a community of love and sharing and justice. so the focus on community would be a distinctive, perhaps a distinctive mennonite characteristic. i think there is some dialogue on the question of toll ration vers versus militarism. part of the mennonite dilemma is we're a tolerant people in a mitaristc imperialistic society
11:08 pm
that doesn't recognize its militaryism and imperialistism. we were shocked how militaritic it sounded, but you wouldn't find more than a handful of americans that believed that the war for independence was unjust war and it was unfortunate that it was fought. there's a greater american consensus on that than there is a german consensus on the franc oppression war. somehow that must be recognized and we still have a lot to do.
11:09 pm
>> certainly the quaker's work on challenging the seeds of conflict, just as we have already heard and the measurement of loving communities is incredibly difficult. we have been increasingly looking at what it means to have an impact in the world. so we've taken big ideas, you know, ideas around our testimonies of simplicity and equality and justice, and we've actually honed down what it is and broken it down into measurable chunks of things that we can achieve. so we're still working on the things that we've mention, but to look at these big issues is really complex. we've just had a little success that i want to share with you. i hope that you will enjoy it. we too are very challenged by militarism and we have looked at it and the seed of conflict of militarism is in school with young people, so we have a program of peace education but
11:10 pm
challenging militarism in schools. out of that with a group called forces watch, in scotland they've just recognized that the recruitment age for children to the army, to the armed forces should move from 16 to 18. in britain it is currently 16, which is younger than it was during world war i. in scotland they have just voted in the last two weeks to make the age rise to 18. so the measurement is we want to make big change, but we're breaking it down into chunks so that we can make these demonstrable changes in society and we can work collaboratively with other groups doing that. i hope you share with me that little victory that we had. >> thank you, joan. [ applause ] >> yes. please. maybe speak loudly. >> okay.
11:11 pm
there we go. nan macy, bell ingham, washington. my familiarity is mostly with afc, which i think is worth pointing out was started as a temporary way to address a crisis, and i don't know that the founders could have envisioned we would be sitting here 100 years talking about a 100-year-old organization. with that in mind, my question for the panelists would be talking about how to keep relevant to your respective organizational roots as we look toward the future to make those organizations relevant to future generations. means of that, message of that. in other words making use of various kinds of media that have only become available in the
11:12 pm
last couple of decades and using -- using the tools of today to affect the change that we seek now and for the future. >> maybe a brief reflection on how your organizations are staying relevant in the shifting media climate. >> i'll pass. >> trying to keep up to date with all of the recent technology, i think afc has done a fairly good job with that. we have tweeting, we have blogging. we have an up-to-date website. you know, that area of work has expanded dramatically in the past five years, and we've been working to keep up with that. i know they've been using that to -- as an organizing tool for a number of our regional offices, have been using tweeting and blogging as an organizing tool to help bring people together. i mean it is mostly youth work
11:13 pm
that is involved with that. so i feel that afc is -- i mean there could be -- of course there's always improvements and there's always new platforms coming out, but i think we're staying pretty relevant in that aspect. >> let's hear another question, if that's okay? >> i'm steve miller, a presbyterian for many years. i'm doing a paper, presenting a paper tomorrow in a presbyterian magazine published during the war which completely supported the war effort and, in fact, printed articles saying that if there was ever any holy war in history that was the holiest of all wars and god was completely on our side. i don't think we've fought any war that doesn't hasn't been on our side or the other side as well we need to remember. but my question is has any of your organizations seen it as
11:14 pm
part of your mission to critique that kind of divine sanction for war? >> yes, thank you. we have religious organizations representing religious convictions, and yet i think all of us would have to confess that religion in our context is more often the rationale used to support wars, and that maybe our first testimony needs to be to our own christian brothers and sisters. any reflections that you would like to offer to that question? >> it almost by definition we would tackle that at f.o.r. because we're interfaith. so in a way of understanding that a little bit is to see when the various peace fellowships were established over time, the jewish peace fellowship with
11:15 pm
f.o.r.'s support in 1941, catholic peace fellowship 1964, buddhist peace fellowship 1978, muslim peace fellowship 1994. almost by definition we can't claim any particular god on our side in a conflict. >> i think -- sorry. i think quakers have certainly challenged the concept of a just war and philosophically we have tried to -- i think quite successfully refuted it. when you have an experience religion it is hard to go along with a philosophical debate by a man living a long time ago, st. augustine, so we believe that actually we know we can experience the truth that overrides the logic of mankind. i think that would be our
11:16 pm
critique. i hope that's fair. may i just go back to the earlier question about social media and just to say, just another little plug for the white feather diaries, that the white feather diaries were aimed at young men and women of army recruitment age, to tell the stories of conscientious objectors 100 years ago. each of the characters, each of the conscientious objectors, the real people, tweeted in real-time to tell their stories to a younger audience. so we tried very hard to use the tools and technology alies of t to tell the stories of the past. quakers have always been communicators. george fox was a great communicator, a great letter writer. we are just using a different medium to try to tell those stories and to learn from the past. so it is the same as afc's. >> thank you. >> i think we have time for one more question. >> i'm a.j. penner from akron,
11:17 pm
pennsylvania. i have been involved with the national campaign for a peace tax fund as well as an organization called 10-40 for peace. my question is what will our children and grandchildren think of us and our role as conscientious objectors in our time when the empire is using upwards to half of its budget to support a military that is way out of proportion to what -- well, it is way out of proportion. i just -- i appreciate your input, not necessarily from an organizational point of view but i would like to get that issue on the agenda of this conference because i think we need to think about conscientious objection going forward, not just think of it in terms of what happen in the past. thank you. >> thank you for that observation. world war i, world war ii had
11:18 pm
nationwide conscription and a moment of choice, often a dramatic moment of choice for young men. today the government does not rely on our bodies but on our tax dollars. >> right. >> and a question about what conscientious objection to war might look like when there is no conscription. i don't know if there's anything that you want to say in response to that. we appreciate the question. >> well, one of the things that quake quakers do is to provide seed money to organizations which work in specific peace areas. so in britain the peace tax campaign, which is now known as conscience, has a very big campaign and we've been working with a quaker parliamentarian ruth capri of capri's fame to bring about a motion, a piece of legislation coming into the
11:19 pm
house of common in britain to allow peace tax to happen legally. it wasn't -- it was gaining a lot of support. one of its biggest supporters was a politician named jeremy mccorbin who is now the leader of the opposition, so we have high hopes but we don't have legislation going through the british parliament at the moment because we have it blocked with brexit. we have high hopes should a different government come in there might be legislation that would be equivalent to the conscience clause 100 years ago. we are reasonably hopeful for that to change. >> i will tell you a little -- yes, without conscription there's not that flashpoint, but there are other ideas. there's a new campaign right now led by code pink to boycott and divest from military industries.
11:20 pm
so there's a lot that you can do if you think about divestment and boycott. those are the techniques that i hear more and more. >> i think our time is up. i want to express my personal gratitude to not just the individuals here but the groups, the institutions that you represent for the legacy of witness, attempting to change hearts, to change laws, to transform culture in the interest of a more peaceable world. please join me in thanking our presenters. [ applause ] this weekend on the c-span networks, saturday at 9:15 p.m. eastern on c-span, former presidential speech writers for presidents nixon to obama. on sunday at 6:30 p.m., dr. anthony eiten on how your
11:21 pm
zip code impacts your health. on book tv on c-span 2, saturday at 9:00 p.m. eastern, christopher bedford on his book "the art of the donald, lessons from america's philosopher in chief." on sunday at 11:00 a.m., author rebecca frasier and her book "the mayflower." on american history tv on c-span3 saturday at 8:55 p.m. eastern, penn state history professor matthew restol. sunday at 9:10 p.m. the groundbreaking ceremony of the dwight eisenhower memorial in washington, d.c. this weekend on the c-span networks. the c-span bus is on the 50 capitals tour visiting every state capital and hearing about each state's priorities. we kicked off the tour on september 15th in dover,
11:22 pm
delaware, have now visited 12 state capitals. our next stop for the 50 capitals tour is tallahassee, florida. we will be there on december 6th with live interviews during "washington journal." up next, members of peace organizations formed in the world war i era talk about the impact of the war on their groups and how their institutions have changed over the past 100 years. this 1:20 discussion was part of a conference hosted by the conference of the national world war 1 museum and memorial in kansas city, missouri. >> welcome to this plenary session, genesis and persistence in advocacy for peace, secular organizations. this session complements yesterday's excellent faith session on the same topic chaired by john roth. my name is scott bennett. i am a professor of


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on