“We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever; and this is our testimony to the whole world.”
That statement is from a document written in 1660 by representatives of the Religious Society of Friends, including George Fox, to the King of England. It is commonly referred to as the Declaration of Friends to Charles II.
So it’s fair to say that the Peace Testimony has been an integral part of Quakerism for at least 362 years. It’s based on the Quaker belief that everyone has that of God within them. It’s not hard to see that war is incompatible with this belief.
Over the years Quakers have converted the testimony into action by refusing to serve in armed forces (or by serving in an ambulance corps only), protesting war, becoming conscientious objectors, and refusing to pay war taxes.
It can be hard for Friends to know how to manifest the Peace Testimony today. The best way to start might be by simply focusing on and listening to the Light within us. By letting it guide our thoughts, words, and actions, we can increase our own personal peace.
Maybe the first, and most important, step towards world peace lies within ourselves.