John Howard Yoder traces the roots of Quaker non-violence to the 17th-century English puritan understanding of conversion: God doesn’t coerce belief; rather, we come to believe through a process of authentic inward change, wrought by the searching– and sometimes painful– presence of God’s Light within. In the same way, the transformation of enmity to amity cannot be brought by coercion. Enemies are conquered the same way that God conquers us– by the relentless willing of good for the other, even when all the evidence suggests that the other doesn’t give a damn.
That’s the condition– the seeming “not giving a damn” for the other– that marks the public stance of the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government today, as we move toward the Christian holy day of Christmas. Bethlehem is in the West Bank. It’s behind a wall that Israel is building, one of the measures it takes to protect itself from violence.
Also behind the wall, north of Jerusalem, is the Friends International Center, in Ramallah. The Quakers have been in Ramallah since before Israel existed, founding schools there in the late-19th century. Today, the Friends International Center aims to be a place where people can worship in the Quaker tradition, can meet others who are committed to peace, and can support the local community in its desire for a more hopeful future.
The official stance of “not giving a damn” for the other, is not the stance of many, many people of genuine good will from both sides. May they all– including the Ramallah Friends and their supporters around the world– continue their work, strengthened in conviction for peace by the grace of Light: the power of God, so tender and mild, holy infant of Mary.
via George Fox.