Friday 11 July 2014

Quakers on Armed Forces Day

The Quakers, or Religious Society of Friends as they call themselves, are a very loose circle of unspecified liberal, spiritual and humanist associations that emerged in the 17th century during the aftermath of the English Civil War. One of their most common features is opposition to war. The weekend before last I was hosting the Exopolitics ET Communications Conference in Leeds, see:, and the day of the conference fell on Saturday the 28th of June which happened to be Armed Forces Day. I've spoken before about this event and also what I call the "Military Religion", which is the source of it, see: As I walked through Leeds city centre towards the venue, a lot of the roads were being closed off and army lorries were driving in and parking. Soldiers and other servicemen began unpacking equipment and setting up stalls. When I walked back there during our lunch break a full-scale street pageant was in progress for Armed Forces Day. I didn't take part myself; I just walked on by. As I explain in the background link above, I intensely dislike these kinds of celebrations and was glad that the Exopolitics conference had been booked that day with such unintended irreverence. This year the Quakers have spoken out about what they call "militarization", which sounds to me like the same concept as the Military Religion, see: One of their number was interviewed on BBC Radio 2 as well, although this is not currently available as a podcast, see: At the bottom of their statement the Quakers say: "Quakers reject the notion that war is inevitable and advocate putting resources into non-violent ways of solving conflicts and averting wars". I'm not sure I agree that war can always be avoided in all circumstances, yet when I look at the various wars that have started, both in history and those in the present day, I almost always locate some form of manipulation, provocation and deceit. If those elements were removed, how many of those wars would have taken place?

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