Dear Brooklyn Friends School Community Members,
In my recent August 1 letters to BFS Parents and BFS Faculty and Staff, I referred to the Quaker peace testimony in the following terms:
Consistent with the Peace testimony of Friends, we recognize that conflict is a universal characteristic of our human species. Our task is to seek non-violent conflict resolution that can address people’s divergent conflicting claims of truth and justice in a manner that seeks equity and reconciliation rather than dominance and destruction.
Faced, over the past weekend, with the challenge of armed and militant demonstrators openly proclaiming their support for the Ku Klux Klan’s terrorist racism as well as genocidal Nazi ideology and tactics, members of the Charlottesville, Virginia community responded to the intentional disruption of civility and equity in their neighborhoods.
Many responses were actively non-violent in the best tradition of the civil rights and antiwar movements of prior decades.
President Trump’s news conference statements yesterday did not include clear and unambiguous rejection of the KKK’s and Nazi Germany’s historic record. That record completely contradicts American law and values and reflects an absolute commitment to use maximum violence in pursuit of dominance and destruction. Such a commitment was fulfilled in Charlottesville by the actual murder-by-automobile of one peaceful demonstrator and the attempted murder of those who shared the street with her.
In the current political climate, the American people’s path towards equity and reconciliation is becoming steeper every day. As members of a Friends school community, we can, however, be sure that such goals cannot be achieved by violence. We remain committed to teaching and learning about non-violent conflict resolution while making its practice as central as we can to the daily life of our students, teachers and families.
Such an effort will be informed by a quote from the renowned Quaker non-violent activist Bayard Rustin, a New Yorker who was a member of the 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends: