Notes on Ursula Franklin's Pacifism as a Map
From her [Ursula Franklin] I learned of the Quaker focus on the importance of individual conscience-based decision-making, not only when it comes to the choices of daily living, but also in acting on the most momentous national and global issues. Quakers do not apply dogmatic instruction to life’s questions. Rather, they use a collective process of prayer, study, and discernment to guide their decisions” Swenarchuk, Michelle p 2
In this sense, the Bruderthaler may have actually reverted back to an older form of Anabaptism back to the time when they were natural allies of the Quaker movement in Europe.
In a sense, the old weltenshauung revealed more of a difference in engagement and organization than in either lifestyle or theology. While it is possible that these movements have evolved into irreconcilable strains, it is probably not necessary to determine whether today’s movements continue to hold commonalities but rather earlier forms of the belief systems did. Nor might one really argue that the actual influence was exceedingly strong as both movements moved along their historical paths – such being that the Quakers were never an overly influential sect in either the Germanies or Russia. Yet, as cousins of the earlier movements, they might indicate what is possible and demonstrate what in evolution would be referred to as parallel and convergent evolutionary traits rather than merely evolutionary relay tendencies (environmental rather than genetic) (see Gould).
While one does not find Quakers per se on the Anabaptist family tree – they may or may not be closer to Anabaptists and Puritans than they are to other movements. Both Puritans and Quakers would at least indicate shared ancestors with the Anabaptists – for the Puritans – the Speedwell Pilgrims and for the Quakers – the Anabaptists who sheltered in London and possibly Scotland during the reign of Henry VIII.
“Given that they reject participation in war and the use of violence for any cause, Quakers are committed to an active engagement in the pursuit of peace and justice. They consider that non-violent means provide “a positive witness to a better way,” (Swenarchuk, p. 4).
From this description, there in fact appears to be a similarity between contemporary Quakerism and the sort of Pacifism as promulgated by the MCC since the 1960s. Interestingly also for our purposes is the 1976 writing by the MCC indicating the development of “Evangelical” Quakerism.
Importantly – Ursula Franklin (and Corrie ten Boom) spent time in Nazi Concentration Camps – exempting her teachings from having to defend herself in the “Nazi” paradigm. She lived it – there can be no theoretical judgment.
The goal of Ursula Franklin’s practice of pacifism is to contribute to building a society of peace, justice, and equality for all “step by bloody small step.” (Swenarchuk, p 5)
“To Ursula, peace ‘is not so much the absence of war but the presence of justice. Peace is the absence of fear,’ whether it a fear of “the knock on the door at night,” a fear of hunger, unemployment, or danger to our children, or a lack of “a public sphere in which the issues of peace and justice will have priority over the issues of profit.’ Peace is ‘a commitment to the future,” and it is a necessity for an equal society in which people have control over much of their own lives.
Peace requires justice, the “hinge of a civilized society,” and can only be achieved through ‘the persistent application of social truth and justice and the strong and intelligent application of love.’ Both peace and justice are individual. They must be equally attainable for one’s loved ones and allies and for ‘all the people you cannot stand.’ The unconstrained practice of justice is the price of peace. ‘If you want peace, work for justice.’ Ursula envisions a peaceful world in which society would work somewhat like a potluck supper, where everyone can contribute their work and care and in return receive nourishment and friendship. For a successful potluck supper, a diversity of offerings is essential,” (Swenarchuk…)
Point of historical interest – the Friends would in fact receive the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in rebuilding war-time societies devastated by war.