At the risk of creating conflict, I must take issue with George Lakey in his mainly-excellent interview (PN 2544). He implies that the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FoR) is about ‘only harmony’ and that means ‘death’; in fact, he argues, we need conflict.
But FoR was was born out of the violent conflict of the First World War so it’s natural that to work for ‘reconciliation’ was seen as a better way to solve differences. Ever since, that work around the world has inevitably meant nonviolent opposition to war.
Some FoR members at times have worked and lived with conflict because of their beliefs. Some have been imprisoned. Whilst polarisation and conflict faces every person on the planet, perhaps it is in creating a space where violence is not inevitable that the work of reconciliation begins.
Secondly, finding a degree of harmony and common ground is a way to allow people to hold different views on matters which still divide them, without resort to violence. And that’s not the end of the work, for conflict continues whether we like it or not.
I understand that George is a respected member of FoR USA, and has a wealth of experience and understanding to bring to the subject.
As an FoR member and working-class pacifist, who can barely dream of being middle-class in a socialist utopia, I agree with the main points of George’s arguments.
I just don’t recognise what he says (albeit briefly) about FoR. Perhaps he’ll expand when he comes on tour in July.