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“May we look upon our treasures, and the furniture of our houses, and the garments in which we array ourselves, and try to discover whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions, or not.” — John Woolman “A Plea for the Poor,” Part X

Today, the racist and militarist underpinnings of our lives and policies in the United States are exposed in new ways. Yet, meaningful systemic change requires more than awareness. We must link movements for racial justice and police reform with calls to reduce Pentagon spending and end endless wars.

Systemic change will come not from a small group of elites or political insiders who revise policies, but from broad grassroots movements that fundamentally shift the dynamics of power.

A working group of advocates, organizers, faith leaders, and scholars, convened by FCNL and the Center for International Policy, met between November 2020 and April 2021. This group discussed how U.S. foreign policy is developed and legitimized, and the need to change that process to become more democratic and just.

The resulting report, Dismantling Racism and Militarism in U.S. Foreign Policy, lays out a vision for transforming the U.S. role in the world. This vision repudiates racism and militarism, calling instead for approaches based on equality, justice, shared wealth, and sustainability. It points us towards a world that does not yet exist, even as we sense a Divine call to bring it into being. Now, the discussion moves to you. What does a new approach look like? How are you and your community called to make this vision tangible?

We encourage you to read and discuss the ideas in this paper with others in your Quaker meeting, church, or community group. We offer these queries to guide your discussion.

  1. What does it mean to be secure?
  2. How does our own security relate to the security of others?
  3. How is national security possible without assumptions of national, racial, or ethnic superiority?
  4. As Quakers, as people of a faith whose practice is to promote peace, equality, and community, how have we adapted our lives in ways that perpetuate militarism and racism?
  5. What changes would we need to make in our lives to begin the dismantlement of this unjust system?
  6. What would it look and feel like to live according to a new vision of the U.S. role in the world?How would you know that the old ways of racism and militarism were gone for good?

Discussion paper published September 2021 by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) Education Fund.

The FCNL Education Fund is a Quaker nonprofit that promotes civic engagement
to advance peace, justice, and environmental stewardship.

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Quakers and Friends are changing public policy.