God is love. The arms trade is killing people. There’s a massive arms fair in London in September 2019. We are Quaker Roots – a network of Quakers joining together to highlight and disrupt that arms fair. Please join us!
Quaker Roots is a grassroots network of Quakers in the UK. We will be traveling to London next September to protest the DSEI arms fair in response to the promptings of love and truth in our hearts.
For too long, we have heard the horrific accounts of humans being tortured and killed across the globe. We have seen too many videos of innocent children massacred, read too many articles recording those souls lost desperately trying to escape the horrors of war. And from the “peace” and “security” of the UK, we have found our hearts breaking, discovering ourselves disturbed, unsettled, shaken to the core. For we have searched for what may contain the seeds of war in our own way of life, and have found that the roots of much of this violence lie here, at home, in our national life.
The roots of injustice
We have found that the roots of a great evil—a machine of war and militarism in which some people’s lives are worth more than others—is both exported from and played out in our own communities. In the UK, women die because of funding cuts to domestic violence services, refugees are seen as disposable, and ethnic minority communities are more likely to be detained by an increasingly militarised police force, all symptoms of an unjust system that maintains an unequal status quo through militarised control, at home and abroad.
The arms trade
We have found that a central cog in this machine of militarism—the global arms trade—has sunk deep into the very soil and soul of our society. One of the world’s largest arms fairs happens in London with our government’s active support. It brings together some of the world’s most corrupt corporations and most brutal regimes to do business. Because of DSEI (Defence and Security Equipment International), more weddings in Yemen are at risk of being bombed, more drones in Afghanistan will traumatise children, and more democracy protesters the world over will be met by armed police.
We believe that each one of us is unique, precious, a child of God. And so we have decided to act.
The Quaker roots of our resistance
As Quakers, we are proud of our history of courageous and loving peacebuilding, our record of standing with the oppressed and of refusing to go along with systems based not on love and justice, but on fear and greed. We are inspired by the lives of all those extremists for peace and truth and equality and simplicity, who took a stand, risking their freedom and often their lives for a better world. We cherish our peace testimony. But we know that we cannot rest on the actions of the past. Because today, we hear the same call from the Spirit that the early Quakers heard, a call to rise up for a world that is better. Better for children. Better for women. Better for LGBTQI people, and Jewish and Muslim people and those forced to migrate. Better for those frightened by change and climate change. Better for those whose languages are dying out. Better for those who are un- or under- or insecurely employed, and for those whose religion is misunderstood. Better for those in prison. Better for those who mourn and who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Better for everyone!
We take seriously our duty as citizens to be aware of the fruits of our society and to speak out where we find injustice. We also recognise that where necessary we may be obliged to pay the price for our speech, to put our bodies where our words are, and to stand in peaceable conflict with the powers of the state and big business. Through our nonviolent direct action, we hope to create a crisis that will bring the arms trade, which thrives in the shadows, out into the light. And we hope to do this in love, recognising that of God in every person, refusing to demonise even those engaged in this destructive industry.
Our Quaker community is a gathering together of peacemakers. We gather, we sit together in silent worship, and we disperse again, knowing that the work of peace cannot be accomplished in our meeting houses, it can only begin there. We are convinced that the making of peace demands us to return to our world in love, to stand firm in public, to confront the “powers and principalities”, and to assert that in this time of permanent war, no government which involves itself in the arms trade, no government relying on and colluding with a militarised system, can govern well or for the benefit of all. We are resolute and will not submit before a governing hand that subsidises, facilitates and profits from the sale of weapons to ruthless dictators in our name.
We will be traveling to London next September to protest the DSEI arms fair in response to the promptings of love and truth in our hearts. We invite you to join us.