Chapter 24 » 24.35

Practical expressions of our peace testimony

Reconciliation and mediation

Adam Curle was the first professor in the School (later Department) of Peace Studies, established in 1973 largely through Quaker initiative, in the University of Bradford.

I have often been asked how we handle the fact that peacemaking involves having a relationship, often a close relationship, with people who are committed to violent solutions to their problems. Do we tell them we disapprove of what they are doing or urge them to repent and desist? And if we don’t, how do we square this with our principles? For my part I reply that I would never presume to criticise people caught up in a situation I do not share with them for the way in which they are responding to that situation. How could I, for example, preach to the oppressed of Latin America or Southern Africa? Nevertheless, I explain that I do not believe in the use of violence as either effective or moral; my job is to try to help people who can see no alternative to violence to find a substitute…

I am as much concerned with the human condition in general as with specific conflicts, which often represent only the tip of a pyramid of violence and anguish… I am concerned with all the pain and confusion that impede our unfolding and fulfilment. Often, of course, circumstances force us to focus on extreme examples of unpeacefulness. However, if we were to limit our attention to these, we would be neglecting the soil out of which they grow and would continue to grow until the soil were purified. In this sense the social worker, the teacher, the wise legislator, or the good neighbour is just as much a peacemaker as the woman or man unravelling some lethal international imbroglio.


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