In this issue we continue with the theme of Peace. We look at how Quakers in the past stood against militarism, and the glib assumption that war will solve our problems. This year Australia commemorates the War That Did Not End All Wars, and Quakers remember those who stood against conscription, and who tried to alleviate the consequences of war. An exhibition on these themes prepared by the NSW Peace and Justice Committee will open in Sydney in September, and will then tour other parts of Australia. The issues raised are still very relevant, as our country is being slowly drawn back into conflicts in the Middle East. The fact that war has failed to solve a problem in the past never seems to dim the hope that this time war will succeed.
One of the insidious attractions of war is that it gives us an enemy who is worse than ourselves. It creates an atmosphere in which criticism of one’s own government or one’s own social group can be seen as weakness or betrayal. John Woolman urged Friends to examine their own lives and see if the “seeds of war” may be nourished by their own lifestyle or possessions. Some of the articles in this issue look at small ways in which people have tried to eliminate the seeds of war – through Quaker Service, or through divesting from investment in coal. I recommend our book reviews which deal with the role of our military, the dangers of believing that some people are essentially bad, and with Joseph Rowntree’s attempts to create a just working environment.
In our next issue we would like to take the theme: Maintaining Hope in Difficult Times. At a time when Quakers (among others) seem to be pushing against the culture of the mainstream, how do we remain faithful to our testimonies without becoming bitter or disillusioned? How do we remain fair, and open to seeing that of God in everyone? We look forward to hearing of your experiences and answers.
A couple of technical points: If when you are reading this on-line version of The Australian Friend you find the illustrations are too small, or are obscured by the caption, just click on the illustration. You will then get an enlarged, caption-free illustration. The size of the enlarged picture will depend on the original sign of the graphics file, which brings us to the second point.
We would like photographs sent with contributions to be as files of at least 500 KB. Smaller files are useable in our on-line version, but are not of sufficient definition for our printed version.