We of the Durham Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends grieve the loss of fellow Quaker Tom Fox, member of the Langley Hill Friends Meeting in McLean, Va. (“Quaker hostage killed in Iraq,” March 15). We extend condolences to his family and community and join with them, and the many voices around the world, in asking for the safe release of the three other members of the Christian Peacemaker Team still held captive in Iraq: Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember.
Tom Fox’s courageous efforts in Iraq, grounded in his recognition of that of God in everyone, continue to inspire us to each do our part as peacemakers. We understand that duty to include forgiving those who would harm us or consider us their enemies. In a statement of conviction signed in March 2005 by Tom and other members of the peacemaking team, they asked that in the event they were held hostage there be “no retaliation on their [the captors’] relatives or property” and that “any penalty should be in the spirit of restorative justice, rather than in any form of violent retribution.” We stand with those who hold these loving convictions.
In memory of Tom Fox, and as we observe the third anniversary of the war in Iraq, we would like to share a statement the Durham Friends Meeting approved at our monthly meeting for business the month prior to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003:
“With regard to our nation’s insistence on seeking military solutions, Durham Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) holds firm that only a non-violent response, grounded in spiritual truth and love, disarms fear and terror. The basis of our commitment is our belief in the presence of that of God in every living person.
“Global security rests on the development of collaborative and just relations with peoples and nations around the world and at home. We, as Quakers, are called to witness again to the continuing power of God’s love in our violent and suffering world, and to work for peace, reconciliation and justice for all in the human family.”
In the spirit of peace, forgiveness and understanding,
Terry Graedon, Clerk
Durham Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends