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American Friends Service Committee

Acting in Faith

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In this Issue

Taking the Risks of Love

Recent Posts at Acting in Faith


Friend,

Some weeks, working for AFSC can break open your heart. Last week with the crisis in Gaza, and having staff and young people with whom we work directly affected, it felt close to home. The images of casualties on both sides of the conflict—injured children who had lost their parents, people searching the rubble for their loved ones—made the violence feel as though it was next door.

It felt critical to offer one more voice to stop the immediate bombings and rocket launches and address the underlying issues, so I worked urgently with staff to post stories and statements to raise awareness of the impact of the conflict. The recent violence is a symptom of much longer-term issues. A crisis like this brings home how important it is to do the long-haul work of addressing underlying issues of injustice.

I know a storyteller who is a Vietnam War veteran. He’s a fairly committed pacifist now and performs a one man show about his experience in the war. He says that the dirty little secret about war is that many soldiers feel more alive in combat than they have before or than they do after. When he described his feeling of being totally alive and alert on the front lines, it reminded me of teaching in an inner-city school.

The commonalities seemed to me to be working in a difficult situation with high stakes, understanding that huge change can happen in a moment, and that lives are at risk. What if feeling awake and alive didn’t require war and violence, but rather the excitement of working on behalf of another’s well-being? I’ve seen such wakefulness and joy among AFSC staff, whether working with beginning farmers or accompanying victims and perpetrators as they find a way to heal.

Living in such an awakened state, it seems, requires vulnerability and courage. It requires connecting your fate to another’s, pushing out beyond where comfort lies, and risking faith. But it’s not the daring of disconnection that war demands; it’s the courage that only love can engender.

Some weeks working for AFSC can break open your heart. And that makes coming to work each day risky and joyful. Please join us in that work through the meeting/church liaison program or by working for peace and justice in your own community.

 
In Peace,
 Lucy, Friends Liaison

 Recent Posts at Acting in Faith

One big, happy family? Quakers and AFSC

Friends Relations Fellow Madeline Schaefer researched the relationship between Quakers and AFSC in the archives and found that the relationship has “been vexed with frictions” for all but three years of the AFSC’s existence. But perhaps now is as good a time as any to collaborate.

“What we can all agree upon, though, is that it is going to take more than one person or organization to create the Kingdom of God on earth. We need to build allies, to use our different understandings of social justice to create real and lasting peace.”

In Gaza: Dreaming with their feet on the ground

AFSC’s Middle East Director Patricia Sellick shares her experience working with AFSC’s Gaza team and the young people with whom they work.

“Above all, the Gazans I met believed in the future. The young people of Gaza will tell you that there is a way to end this war, despite the failed efforts of earlier generations and their current leaders. They just need to find it. They have a slogan: We dream with our feet on the ground.”

After the election: Answering the knock

I reflect on the recent U.S. elections.

“As we rekindle our passion for justice, as we remember that movements don’t begin or end with the election of a president but with our collective willingness to risk and to struggle, let us do so with the power of love.”

Election violence and peacemaking in Kenya: The experience of one Kenyan Quaker

Silas Wanjala reflects on recent outbreaks in Kenya as the March elections approach and reflects on the urgent need for peacemaking in the midst of the violence.

“Some of the people in the community and also members of the local Quaker church, which included members from various tribes, came to seek consolation and counsel from me. Some people from the perceived aggressor tribe came to me seeking an endorsement for taking up arms. Instead, I suggested they had a choice. I told them not to be violent, and instead to love and let go of their anger.“

 
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