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8 Years since 9/11 and War is Still Not the Answer

September 10, 2009

After a week and a half at FCNL I can honestly say that I am very pleased to be here working on these important issues. I have had very little formal background in peace and conflict resolution so my principal asset currently is a different perspective. I devoted last week to understanding the way the peaceful prevention of deadly conflict program works, how it connects to what others at FCNL are doing, and where it fits into the broader history of FCNL’s mission. As I saturate myself with these new concepts it occurs to me that I will never have a perspective on the program as fresh as the one I now hold and so I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself by sharing a few recurring thoughts on why this program on preventing war is so central to all that FCNL does.

Quakers are known for their commitment to non-violence resistance as demonstrated throughout history. And yet how can a message of non-violence be heard and taken seriously in a militarized world where the U.S armed forces are deployed to every corner of the globe? This is the eternal question with which Quakers worldwide struggle, and FCNL’s response was to provide an alternative to war—the peaceful prevention of deadly conflict. If one does not want to fight wars, one must prevent them—a seemingly simple concept and yet one that FCNL continues to fight hard for on the Hill. It is not easy to grab hold of a program meant to prevent conflict. It doesn’t lend itself easily to action alerts, and the battles that Bridget and I fight will most likely never make the news. And yet, the idea of institutionalizing structures that can support a world without war is so powerful that I am honored to even have the opportunity to try. I look forward to hearing from all of you about how this very important work touches your life. I don’t think that I know what a world without war looks like, but I am hopeful that I might one day.

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