Are you a pacifist? And if so, when did you realise you were one? Here APF Vice Chair, Sue Clayton tells the story of how she became a pacifist some 25 years ago.
‘This ‘blog’ entry is not the one I had thought I might write for my first dip into blogging. It was triggered by an email from a friend pointing out that it was the 25 year Anniversary of the ‘ending’ of the ‘First Gulf War’ (17 January). Maybe we too easily remember those anniversaries before ‘our time’ but since I had not seen anything in the media about this anniversary, it had passed me by.
That email suddenly plunged me back to a dark early morning ride across the Fens a few months before. BBC radio news had just announced that a scud missile had been fired at Israel. I found myself praying a lot harder than I often do that Israel would not respond. Somehow the straight Fen road miles slipped by. When I got to the next roundabout, in my heart I knew all wars were wrong and so, at 42, I became a pacifist.
I had been active in peace and justice issues for all of my adult life. My basic Christian faith was nourished by my family, especially my Dad. This, combined with a social conscience, developed through my contact with my University YWCA, helped me in dealing with the two big issues of my early adult life – the Vietnam War and the American Civil Rights campaigns. So on that dark morning, the idea of continuing to work for peace was not new, but what was new for me was this sudden commitment to the ancient Christian approach that all war is immoral, today called pacifism.
Now why exactly that pre-dawn experience became my ‘road to Damascus’ I will never know for sure, but having become a pacifist, I did feel rather isolated. A chance read of an advert in the New Internationalist alerted me to the fact that there was a group of Anglican Pacifist and 25 years later here I am writing to confirm my commitment to pacifism using a means that was undreamed of then.
Over the years I have enjoyed listening to what brought others to pacifism. I am hoping this piece will encourage others to share their thoughts.’
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