Paul’s Perambulations

January 26, 2010

How Quakers Can “Support the Troops” Friends Journal

Filed under: Peace — admin @ 4:05 pm

I submitted the following  in response to an article in Friends Journal (February, 2010) asking how can we support the troops without also supporting the war.

I have often struggled with how I can support the troops without supporting the war. Soldiers deployed on the ground, whatever side, are the victims of war. I have found that when “Support the Troops” rallies have been described as non-partisan, that ends up not being the case. Here are some very simple options to consider.

Veterans’ Day tends to be awkward for Quakers Why? Instead of avoiding those older gentlemen in military hats that we see selling red poppies, I buy a poppy for a dollar and say something to the effect that “I’m a Quaker and oppose all wars, but I have a real concern for those who are victims of war, veterans and civilians alike. War is a great tragedy.” Additionally, by wearing my red paper poppy, this can generate some comment or surprise that a Quaker pacifist would wear this emblem. I reply “Why so?”

Wear a button daily that says “Support the Troops. Bring Them Home Now.”

Wear an American flag pin AND a second flag pin. The U.S. flag has become a symbol both of supporting the troops and supporting the war, without distinction. During the Persian Gulf War I sometimes wore a U.S. flag and a second flag (flag pins are available from the U.N.). When people asked about the second flag, I explained that it was the Iraq flag and that I wore it because I supported ALL the troops in the war and hoped for the speedy safe return of ALL of them.

Make a donation to a disabled veteran’s cause, making very clear in your letter both your support of veterans and your refusal to support war. In my case, I made a donation to the Disabled American Veterans organization, which describes itself as non-partisan. I included a letter with my donation, explaining both my support for veterans and my opposition to war, and noted that this particular contribution was the redirection of war tax money that I had publically refused to pay the U.S. government (as a pacifist tax resister). I explained that I believed my donation was a better use for my money at this time, and that I was also working to prevent such tragedies in the future.

You can well imagine that doing any of these simple things can lead to some interesting discussion and other developments.

1 Comment »

  1. The following is my NYTimes post published in reply to the article How Christian Were the Founders? (NYTImes 2/11/10). The article tells the story of an attempt by the Texas School Board to rewrite history texts used in public schools in order to advance their particular Christian agenda. (I’m copying my post as a Comment rather than make it an entirely new item on my blog.)

    #601.drexel hill,PA February 12th, 2010.
    I hope the school board acknowledges that the “Liberty Bell” was in fact ordered by the colony of Pennsylvania in 1751 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn’s historic Charter of Privileges, which famously declared freedom of worship throughout the colony (thus the bell’s inscription “Proclaim liberty throughout the land…”).

    I believe that the freedom-loving Quaker John Lynch would be aghast if he knew that Jerry Falwell chose to situate Liberty University in the town that Lynch founded at the site of his historic ferry crossing.

    p.s. for my blog: The connection of the Quaker State House bell to the Declaration of Independence is quite minimal. The current story is basically a product of 19th-century publicizing.

    Comment by admin — February 14, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

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