In this edition we are looking at alternatives to violence – in the home, in schools, in prisons, in communities, and between nations. This is a vast and complex topic, yet in some ways the Quaker approach is simple. Quakers believe that there is that of God in all people, and that only by answering that of God can we help people to overcome the violence that is in us all.
Naomi Klein, the winner of the Sydney Peace Prize for 2016, says that “to change everything, we must change everybody”. In other words, we cannot have change at the institutional level until we have change at the personal level. This belief is expressed in many ways in the articles in this issue. Bob Douglas urges us to develop mindfulness, empathy and compassion. David Purnell tells us that we need a vision to create peaceful solutions. Facilitators in the Alternatives to Violence Project believe that everyone can learn to use Transforming Power.
Personal change is where it starts, but it needs to lead to structural change. Quaker Service Australia promotes non-violent solutions to community conflicts. The Knitting Nannas and the Quaker Grannies call on us to find non-violent solutions to violence against our environment and other people. The film “War on Trial” challenges us to find bold solutions, and to ask what sacrifices we are prepared to make.
What problems does violence solve? If it only creates further problems, we desperately need to call on all the resources of our Quaker and Christian heritage to find a better way.
In our next issue we are calling for papers on the subject of Reconciliation with Indigenous People. The issue of recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution seems to have slipped from the political agenda, but there is unfinished business here which must be attended to. What do Quakers have to say?
And as the year draws to an end, we wish you hope and joy at Christmas time.