I am approaching my 90th year. Before 9/11, I had high hopes of leaving this earth confident that the people on it knew more about nonviolence and conflict resolution. Yes, and practicing what they had learned. Even after 9/11 we had a window of opportunity to do just that. By working with United Nations and the World Court we could have helped build a stronger world community; a community of fairness and justice for all, where compassion, understanding, forgiveness, imagination, sharing, and courage are valued and practiced.
In one sense we've come a long way. The Puritans left England because they wanted to be free of the Church of England yet they banned Quakerism in 1657. Any Quaker caught worshiping was jailed and tortured and sometimes executed. Mary Dyer was one of the last to be executed and by 1675 Quakers were worshipping undisturbed in Boston. Then, I think of Lucretia Mott, Philadelphia Quaker, who spent a lifetime helping to free slaves and get equal rights for women. More recently, I think of Rosa Parks who sat in a seat in the front of the bus in Montgomery "because her feet were tired”. She gave the spark that was needed to set off the Civil Rights Movement.
And now, here I stand, along with many, many others, in this 21st Century saying this madness has to stop, this killing off the opposition, this covering the earth with lethal materials has to stop. I put my faith in such efforts as the Nonviolent Peace Force. An international team of peacekeepers in Sri Lanka is helping the people on both sides of the conflict to learn to live more peacefully together. I put my faith in the U. S. citizens who are vigiling and doing civil disobedience at what was once called the School of the America's; part of the U.S. Government, which has been training terrorists for decades. I put my faith in people who are quietly serving their communities in a myriad of different ways, and in those who are helping us learn more about the world we live in and about ourselves in the 21st Century.
Finally, I oppose terrorism and fighting terrorism with violence. We have the tools, the knowledge, and the ability to solve our differences and create a better world for all people.