CREATIVITY IN PEACEMAKING
In peacetime a commitment to pacifism is relatively easy, even respectable in the general society. Wars have made Friends unpopular and occasioned much soul searching among pacifists who have sought what William James called "a moral equivalent to war," a method of demonstrating by constructive action their search for a better way of solving disputes than killing as well as their worth to the countries they love but for which they refuse to fight. 1 The origins of Quaker pacifism lie in an individual's commitment to abide by the example and commands of Jesus, but the form of that obedience has changed markedly over the centuries. The evolution of Quaker thought and actions on war is this chapter's subject. It is a story that had a sudden and major change of plot during World War I.
Pacifist responses have taken various forms depending upon the nature of the war, the position of Friends in the general society, and the opportunities allowed by circumstances. For example, in New England just before King Philip's War, in Pennsylvania after 1755, and in England and America before the Revolution, Friends offered their services as mediators, attempting to foster negotiations between the conflicting parties in an attempt to avert or end bloodshed. More recently, Friends have offered their services as neutral facilitators of negotiations between Israel and Egypt in 1956 and in the civil war in Nigeria in the 1970s. 2 Today Quaker centers at the United Nations in New York and in Geneva, Washington, and London provide an institutional setting where diplomats can meet to discuss problems "off the record." Such Quaker efforts at mediation require privacy.
Relief activities, a second form of pacifist witness, is a very public activity whose operation depends upon wide-scale knowledge of the distress, private contributions, and permission or acquiescence from both the country from where the supplies originate and the officials in the recipient nation.
British Friends were well equipped to deal with the challenges of World War