Monday, August 29, 2011

Blessed are the poor in Spirit during Ramadan...

It's the last day of Ramadan, and I am asking myself: what have I learned from fasting for the past 30 days?

First of all, how difficult it is to fast during the summer, when days are long and hot. It's especially hard when you have a busy life, as mine has been, with a big wedding coming up. Trying to move out of my apartment during the hottest day of the summer, with helpers but no water, was not pretty. But God gave me the strength to persevere, just barely.

The physical stress of fasting has been huge, but there has also been psychological stress. My fiancee has been supportive of my fasting, but this is the first time she has been with someone who refrains from eating and drinking liquids during the daylight hours, and it's been a big adjustment for her. I rise before dawn for breakfast, and we don't have dinner together until nearly 8:00 PM--much later than usual. I am pretty perky in the morning, but my energy level declines in the afternoon. I am not as vigorous or as clear-minded as I am when I am well-fed, and to her I seem like a different person. This has exasperated my fiancee, who is usually very compassionate.

"I guess I'd have to get used to your being limited like this," she says, trying to adjust to this new normal.

Her sometimes patronizing attitude has been rather painful for me--I am all too aware of my limitations--my inability to be as physically active as I'd like to be, my inability to concentrate when thirst and hunger kick in--and don't like to be reminded of these deficits. But finally it dawned on me: that's what it's like to be poor and hungry. People treat you as if something is wrong with you because you don't act "normally."

I am also reminded of how Jesus "emptied himself of Godhead" and took on human limitations, and how humbling that must have been for someone who had seen the face of the Divine. Even though he was the Christ, Jesus was not omniscient or omnipotent--he felt pain, uncertainty, and weakness, just like us. Even though he had it in his power to be rich beyond measure, he choose to be poor, hungry, and thirsty.

This, I believe, is at the heart of the discipline of fasting: to become "poor in Spirit," to feel in one's gut what it means to lack the essentials that most people take for granted.

During meeting for worship yesterday, I shared the message that when we make a sacrifice or suffer for love's sake, we experience joy. I was inspired by a message that someone gave about C.S. Lewis, who discovered real love late in life when he married Joy Gresham, a writer who had cancer and died soon after their marriage. By marrying Joy,  Lewis, an aged academic set in his ways, found new life through love and suffering.

What led me to undertake my Ramadan fast ten years ago was John Woolman would have called "a motion of love." After 9/11, I felt tremendous anxiety--I was fearful not only of terrorism, but also of our misguided response to it. The phrase "perfect love drives out fear" came to mind, and became my mantra. I was led to fast to Ramadan as a way to put into practice Jesus' injunction to "love your neighbor" and "love your enemy." As a result of fasting during Ramadan, I was warmly embraced by the Muslim community and eventually came to love as well as appreciate my Muslim brothers and sisters as if they were my family. I was also led into interfaith work that transformed my life and made me feel part of what ML King called "the beloved community." Even though fasting was and continues to be a demanding discipline, through it I experienced incredible joy.

Fasting also deepened my relationship with the poor and homeless. During this Ramadan, I have been drawn more closely to this much misunderstood and maligned segment of our community. During Ramadan Jill and I took part in a homeless survey and walked the pre-dawn streets of Pasadena to find the most vulnerable and at-risk homeless people. We got to know and appreciate many of them, and even invited one homeless vet named Caesar to our wedding.

Yesterday, after I shared my message about Ramadan at my Quaker meeting, a homeless father named Robert showed up with his two kids--a 6-year-old girl named Daniela and an 8-year-old boy named Robert Jr. Robert was looking for a place to stay for the night since he had been asked to leave a nearly homeless shelter. I began asking Friends for help, and was able to raise $20--barely enough for a cheap motel room. Another Friend offered to provide hospitality for Robert  his kids in her home, but needed her husband's permission to do so.

While waiting for her to get permission, I drove Robert and his kids around Pasadena. We went to a homeless service center at a church where we spoke to an attendant via an intercom. He never actually came out to see us in person. Like the wizard of Oz, he hid behind a curtain and told us to "come back tomorrow to be processed."

Robert was very apolegetic and humble when turned down this way. He seemed resigned to rejection. I thanked the disembodied voice, but left feeling very dissatisfied with the encounter. Is this the way Jesus would have responded?

I ended up spending two hours with Robert and his two kids, and enjoyed every minute. Robert and Daniela were bright, charming children, eager to learn and to share what they were learning in school. We had fun doing math together, and I felt like an uncle.

I took them to an In-and-Out Burger and they ate their meal in shady spot next to my car under a cottonwood tree while I watched. It was blazingly hot, and I was incredibly hungry and thirsty, but I felt joyful and at peace hanging out with this little family.

Daniela had a great sense of humor. When I asked her how old I was, she smiled and responded, "100." There was a twinkle in her eye as she took in my bemused reaction.

When Daniela told me that In-and-Out-Burgers are the "goodest" in the world. I gently corrected her and said, "Don't you mean 'the best'?"

Her father (who was born in Pasadena but had a distinctly Spanish accident) said, "I don't speak English too good, and they learned from me."

"I love you, Papa," Daniela said sweetly. And her brother chimed in, "I love you, too."

I was moved almost to tears by this good man and his loving children, whose mother had left them two years earlier.

When we sat down for our meal, I asked if they'd like to say "grace." The father encouraged the son to say a prayer and then he added words of his own. Daniela clearly wasn't interested in this ritual.

Afterwards, I asked her what she knew about God and Jesus.

"Jesus is the most wonderful person in the world," she said. "One time, when someone didn't pray, he sent out an army after him."

Amused and amazed by this reply, I said that Jesus was all about love, and I don't think this was something he did.

"Then they lied about him at the church," Daniela said with great certitude.

It was fun hanging out with these kids who reminded me of the kids that Kathleen and I had taught at Vacation Bible School. It felt like a blessing, a gift from God, to spend my last Sunday in Ramadan with them.

My being with Robert and his family did not solve their problems, nor did I solve the problem of homelessness in our society. But it did deepen my commitment to do what I can to make sure that everyone is housed--a concern that was raised by my dear friend Lucia van Diepen during our recent Pacific Yearly Meeting session. Such heart connections are incredibly important when we undertake this kind of work.

I also felt I understood a little more clearly what Jesus meant when he said: "Blessed are the poor" and "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after justice."  He knew whereof he spoke from personal experience, and now so do I.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Speaking a message of peace at a Swedenborgian chapel

This Sunday at 10 AM I will be giving a message at Wayfarers’ Chapel, a beautiful all-glass church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright's son, in Palos Verde. It's one of the most beautiful spiritual venues I've ever seen, with vistas that are unbelievable. See   I will be speaking there along with my dear Jewish friend Roni Love, who is a teacher, and Tony Lee, a Bahai college professor who writes poetry and teaches African American Studies. It should be a lovely time of interfaith fellowship. In the afternoon, I will help facilitate an interfaith cafe at St Margaret's Catholic Church in Lomita from 2-5 PM.

Here's what I plan to share at the Wayfarer's Chapel:

Thank you for inviting me to speak about peace, a subject that is dear to my heart. For the past 25 years I have been a Quaker peace activist and have been involved in numerous peace projects and several peace organizations, including the American Friends Service Committee and, most recently, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace. I firmly believe that war is not only morally wrong but it should also be abolished, like slavery.

I am convinced that war is a social disease, one that destroys the soul as well as the body. It has been estimated that between 100 and 150 million people were killed in the 20th century due to war. (See In addition to war’s physical death toll, hundreds of millions of survivors of war have been left psychologically traumatized. Suicide, chemical addiction, spousal abuse and similar signs of post-traumatic stress disorder are the fruits of war.

Even though we know how destructive and evil war is, many people continue to harbor the delusion that we can somehow end war by increasing our military budget. This is like a drug addict thinking he can solve his problems simply by using more and more drugs.

For those who imagine that there is a good war, or good excuse for war, I recommend a book by David Swanson called “War is a Lie.” In this book, Swanson brilliantly exposes the myths used by war-makers to justify their deadly trade.

If war is a disease more dangerous than drug addiction or any natural plague, is there a cure, and what is it?

I believer our addiction to war is curable, but we must be willing to devote the same kind of attention to ending war that we do to ending AIDs or cancer. Just as we have war colleges, we need peace colleges. We need young men and women trained in the arts of peace and nonviolent conflict resolution. We need to make a serious commitment to the United Nations and to the international court of justice: we can’t be the “exceptional nation” that ignores international law while requiring others to follow it. We need to slash our military budget and devote our resources to nonviolent ways to promote peace and end conflict.

As you can see, I am passionate about peace, and that’s what drew me to Quakerism. Quakers have been consistently opposed to war during their 350-year history. Quakers have sought both practical and spiritual ways to promote peace. William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, came up with the idea of a United Nations of Europe to resolve conflicts in the 17th century and Quakers have supported organizations like the League of Nations and the United Nations ever since. Quakers started organizations like the American Friends Service Committee to provide an alternative to military service. Many Quakers, like Elise Boulding, have been on the forefront of peace studies.

The Quaker peace testimony derives from the teachings of Christ, who says: “Love your enemy.” Most Christians feel this is a worthwhile goal, but not necessarily practical when we are confronted with men like Adolph Hitler or Saddam Hussein or others deemed to be evil. A movement called “Christian realism” rose up in the 20th century to argue that we cannot really put into practice the hard teachings of Jesus because this is a fallen world—a world of moral ambiguity as well as of evil.

Many people of faith still believe that war is part of human nature (even though most psychologists say otherwise) and therefore war will always be with us. But evidence shows that war is a man-made institution, like slavery, and therefore it can be unmade by those who have the determination to end it.

Ending war won’t be easy, but it is possible, even in the most difficult of situations.

If you have any doubts about whether nonviolent resistance can work to end war, I urge you to see a documentary called “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” This amazing film was produced by the grand daughter of Walt Disney and documents the struggles of women in Liberia to end the bloody conflict that plague their nation for almost a decade. War lords not only fought amongst themselves, they trained young boys to rape and pillage and use drugs. The situation was so horrific that Christian and Muslim women banded together and declared, “We want peace, no more war.” They used Gandhian techniques, plus some creative ideas of their own. When the war lords refused to take peace negotiations seriously, the women barricaded the doors of their hotel rooms and wouldn’t let the men leave until they agreed to bargain in good faith. When the men continued, one of the leaders of the women threatened to take off her clothes—which would have disgraced the men according to African custom. So the war lords finally agreed to make peace. The women helped the boy soldiers to reintegrate into society. And when a democratic election was held, a woman named Sirleaf was elected president of Liberia. She is a brilliant woman---Harvard-educated—and she’s still in office. This amazingf story has received very little attention in the media, perhaps because it shows the power of the people, especially religious people. It also shows what can happen when Christians and Muslims work together for peace.

If the women of Liberia could end war in their country, surely we Americans could end war here in the United States.

So if ending war is possible, how do we become peace-makers?

There are two aspects of peace: inner peace and peace in the world.

For Friends, inner peace comes when we put aside worldly distractions and seek to discern and do the Divine Will. Our spiritual practice is to sit in silence, without any prearranged sermon or order of worship, and to wait for Divine Guidance. Sometimes someone is led to give vocal ministry out of the silence. Sometimes we simply sit and feel the Divine Presence. Our worship practice has been been called “group mysticism.” The goal of our worship is summed up in the Psalm that says: “Be still and know that I am God.”

The Psalmist goes on to say that if we are still and know God, war will cease.

Quakers apply the principle of “waiting upon the Lord” to our decision-making process. When we gather together for a business meeting, we begin with silent worship and seek to do our business in a contemplative spirit. We don’t vote. We don’t argue with each other. We speak our truth from the heart, and we try to hear the truth in others. Through the practice of compassionate listening, we seek to come to unity in the Spirit.

This, I believe, is the basis of true Peace. When we experience a measure of inner peace, when we live a life based on peaceful principles, we become empowered to work for peace in the world. That’s why many Quakers have become committed and effective peace activists.

My hope and prayer is that more and more people will gather together in contemplative silence and listen to that “still, small voice” that spoke to the prophets of old. If we truly listen, and are faithful to the Spirit, we can realize the dream of the prophets: a world without war, a world of justice and peace.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Meeting for Grief and Hope in response to Norway attacks

I was pleased to learn that Seattle Quakers helped organize a "meeting for healing and hope" in response to the hate crime committed in Norway by a deranged Islamophobe named Anders Behring Brevik. I was also pleased that one of the participants in this Quaker gathering was Jamal Rahman, a Sufi interfaith minister whom I invited to take part in a panelt discussion at Friends General Conference gathering in Tacoma, WA, a few years ago. Raham often works in a trio that include a rabbi and a minister who are also committed to building interfaith understanding.

July 29, local Christians and Muslims worshipped together and celebrated diversity in remembrance of the Norway attacks.

Held at the Quaker University Friends Meeting in Seattle, the Meeting for Grief and Hope focused on community, multiculturalism and acceptance.

The event came about because of Susanne Kromberg, a hospital chaplain and native Norwegian, who said she felt moved to reach out to the local Muslim community after attending the Nordic Heritage Museum’s vigil for Norway in Ballard.

“What was important to us in doing this is recognizing that the young people in Norway who were targeted, were targeted because of their commitment to an open and inclusive society,” she said.

Kromberg initiated the Meeting for Grief and Hope with fellow Quaker Rick Ells and they invited Rahman, a Muslim imam from the Interfaith Community Church in Ballard, to speak at the event.

“It seemed important to us for Christians and Muslims to worship together to heal some wounds that have been created over the past week’s events,” said Kromberg. “It seemed important to acknowledge that Norwegians come in all shapes and sizes and colors, and when we talk about Norwegian religion, it’s not just Lutheran. There are Norwegian Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. We wanted to honor that, and honor the vision of community that these kids had.”

Rahman said he was pleased to have the opportunity to join with other religions in furtherance of a multicultural and community ideology. He said that living in Ballard and being a Muslim caused the Norway attacks to affect him on a personal and communal level.

“I think we all want to demonstrate that this is not just a Norwegian problem, or an Arab problem or a Muslim problem. This is a human problem,” he said. “What happened in Norway was actually an assault on humanity.”

Ells said that the worship service, held in traditional Quaker-style, was designed to help people get past their anxieties and preoccupations, and give people a chance to use the process of worship to respond to the Norway tragedy.

“We had a number of members that were feeling stuck,” he said. “So we decided to pull together in worship, to help us know how to go forward.”

Kromberg added that her motivation stemmed from her desire to stress how much humans need each other. She said that she read a Norwegian article about a 13-year-old Muslim girl named Sophia who was considering leaving Norway to keep her friends safe.

“Sophia wrote that she felt so guilty that these kids died because of her,” Kromberg said. “People responded by saying that Norway needed her. That is our purpose, to say that we need each other. This kind of event strips us down to our humanity so we can see each other as brothers and sisters, and say we need each other.”

Mari-Ann Kind Jackson, a native of Norway who now lives near Ballard, has friends and family in Norway. She attended both the vigil at the Nordic Heritage Museum and the Meeting for Grief and Hope. Jackson said that having an additional interfaith event was extremely important and significant in light of the Norway attacks.

“There are so many wonderful people in Norway who are not ethnic Norwegians,” Jackson said. “We need to recognize them and need to be with them so that we are truly together. I felt that this event was one way to do that, to share with other cultures and faiths.”

Wayne Benenson, a member of the South Seattle Meeting Quakers, agreed. He added that this tragedy gave him a chance to honor similarities and celebrate differences.

“Through this incident I’ve been given an opportunity to practice not shutting down, to practice being a citizen of the world, and to practice my belief that love is stronger than hate,” he said. “It’s not easy, but I do it because it takes too much energy to shut down.”

The service began with words from Kromberg followed by a prayer from Rahman. Quakers and Muslims together lent their voices to a traditional Muslim chant, as Rahman recited a Muslim prayer.

A time for silence and reflection followed, with members adding comments of hope and community. After the service, those in attendance placed red roses at the Sadako statue located on the street behind the worship room.

Rahman said the victims of the Norway tragedy proved that getting to know each other on a personal level is possible: “When I listen to the words of the noble teenagers on that island, it gives me hope and heals my wounds. They remind me that no matter what your differences are, they no longer need to loom as a threat.”


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hiroshima and Fukushima: "Never Again...."

I was once again asked to give a short reflection on Hiroshima Day at the Long Beach Congregational Church. As you can see from this link, the sanctuary of the unabashedly liberal church is decorated with thousands of paper cranes. Each year religious leaders from different traditions are invited to speak about Hiroshima from their religious perspective. This year's speakers included a Tibetan-trained Buddhist nun, a Sufi, a Muslim woman, a Church of Religious Science minister, a Jewish woman, and a Quaker, yours truly. There is also music, worship, and a showing of a film about Sadako, the  12-year-old Japanese girl who became a legend after dying of leukemia, the "Atom Bomb Disease." You can see pictures of the church at

I gave the following message linking Hiroshima and Fukushima. Afterwards, Nancy Nolan and Alan White (a Quaker from Orange County Meeting) came up to me with great appreciation since they had brought a petition calling for the closing of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. I am glad I was able to share a message articulating the viewpoint of many Friends, including Quaker Earthcare Witness, our national Quaker environmental organization. 

Pacific Yearly Meeting has not come to unity about nuclear power, but PYM's Unity with Nature Committee recommended queries to help Friends (and others) have a respectful and meaningful discussion of this important issue. This minute is included after my talk.


As we near the advent of the 66th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and the bombing a few days later of Nagasaki, it is hard not to notice grim parallels between what happened to Japan in 1945 and what is happening today. The tragedy of Hiroshima can be linked directly to the tragedy of Fukushima.

In 1945, the United States dropped their newly invented weapons of mass destruction, killing over 150,000 people and leaving tens of thousands more to die a lingering death. This act of unspeakable violence launched the Cold War and an era of nuclear terrorism that deeply traumatized Japan, and outraged people of conscience throughout the world. As a way to make nuclear power respectable, the US launched its “Atoms for Peace” program in 1953, which encouraged the development of nuclear power plants. Claims were made that these plants would produce energy “too cheap to meter” and be utterly safe.

We now see these claims were as false as the claim that we had no alternative than to drop bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We are now told that in order to prevent global warming and to satisfy the desires of a world addicted to fossil fuel, we have no alternative but to build more and more nuclear plants, even though we still don’t know how to make them fail-safe or what to do with the spent fuel, which has the potential to cause death and disease for hundreds of thousands of years.

As a Christian and a Quaker and a human being, I grieve for the those who died and for those who are suffering from the lingering after effects of Fukushima and Hiroshima. Let us join with the mayors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and say, “Never again.”

Let me quote from a statement made by a national Quaker environmental group called “Quaker Earthcare Witness”:

“We are horrified and saddened by the staggering physical, human, and environmental damage that has been suffered by Japan following recent major earthquakes and a major tsunami. We are deeply concerned about ongoing radioactive releases---with potentially severe global impact---from six heavily damaged nuclear fission reactors.

“The damage has exposed the vulnerability of many older plants like Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex to disruption of vital cooling systems and breaching of containment structures. We join others in calling for the orderly shutdown of all nuclear plants….

“We call attention to a number of scientific studies that dispute the claim that fission-powered plants are "carbon-free" and therefore can play a significant role in controlling climate change, as well as the claim that radioactive releases during routine activities of the nuclear industry do not pose significant health or environmental risks.

“We also respond to the nuclear crisis in Japan in terms of the values that we find to be essential to a peaceful, just, and ecologically sustainable world. Fission-powered electricity, along with industrial agriculture and genetic engineering, emerge from a narrow, human-centered technological worldview rather than a proper understanding of ecological principles. These profit-driven enterprises are relics of Cold War-era thinking, which favors large-scale, centrally controlled systems. These tend to concentrate power and wealth at the expense of democratic values, community well-being, economic justice, ecological balance, and personal freedom.

“Proponents of nuclear fission and other advanced technological systems typically cite pressures to keep up with ever-expanding consumption and population growth. They do not acknowledge that on a finite planet, growth inevitably comes to an end, often tragically, and that the current economic model is based on endless growth. They tend to underestimate human fallibility and the limitations inherent in the laws of nature, including the law of unintended consequences.

“We encourage governments and nonprofit organizations to give priority to public education about the greenhouse gas emissions and radiation hazards associated with the entire nuclear fuel cycle.”

The statement goes on to ask each of us to “reduce our personal consumption of electricity that comes from nuclear fission and fossil fuels and to obtain the electricity that they do use from truly renewable sources as much as possible.”

We are also urged “to work individually and collectively with legislators and lobbying groups to encourage the development of appropriately scaled renewable energy systems and to eliminate subsidies for nuclear fission, coal, oil, natural gas, and other industries that are environmentally disruptive and ecologically unsustainable.”

Hiroshima Day is more than a look at the dangers of nuclear power, however, it is also an anti-war day and pro-peace day. Nuclear weapons were produced for war and have been used once in anger but now with many countries owning multiple warheads the risks of a nuclear war are even greater.

The exorbitant amount of money spent by the US government on the military continues to rob ordinary people of much needed resources for housing, welfare, fair wages and education. Hiroshima Day 2011 is a time for people of faith to get out and protest for an end to the nuclear war cycle and an end to war and preparation for war.


Proposal to Encourage A Friends' Dialogue on Nuclear Power

The catastrophe at the Fukushima fission reactors in Japan has re-engaged Friends and others in responding to the use of nuclear power. Though Quakers have diverse views on this matter, it is unavoidably relevant in discussions about the challenges of increased energy demands, the need for sustainability, and the crisis of climate change.

Friends need to hear and understand each others' views on the use, expansion, or reduction of nuclear power. The first priority is not to reach agreement, but to grasp the underlying issues that might shape an informed opinion, relying on Friends' beliefs for guidance in the process of discernment. Some questions to consider include:

Inspired by our testimonies of simplicity and community, what might be realistic options in producing and consuming energy?

How might we balance the needs of the current generation with those of the future, and how do we maintain a healthy and livable Earth, as we use the energy we need?

What information do we lack, and how can we educate ourselves about nuclear power and alternative sources of energy?

In the coming year, we ask monthly meetings to hold threshing sessions, exploring and honoring varied opinions and looking for common concerns on these matters.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pacific YM approved minute opposing torture... after an excruciating process

It is not suprising that Pacific Yearly Meeting approved a minute opposing torture during its recent annual session. What came as a surprise, and even a shock, is that we couldn't come to unity at first. Some Friends became bogged down in procedural questions--"are we following Quaker process?"--rather than entering into the spirit of the minute. Other Friends  felt rushed--only ten minutes was allotted to discussion, as opposed to 40 minutes allotted to discussion of budget matters. Some Friends were frustrated that so little time was given to a concern that seemed to warrant much more serious consideration.

When we couldn't come to unity on the first reading of the minute, I was led to rise and remind Friends that prisoners in Pelican Bay were enduring treatment tantamount to torture, and were engaged in a hunger strike to call attention to their plight. I also reminded Friends of what Paul said in Hebrews 13: "Treat those in prison as if you yourself are in prison with them, and treat those being tortured as if you are being tortured with them." I said I was going to fast in solidarity with the Pelican Bay prisoners. I hope that this fast would inspire Friends to be more empathetic.

The next morning Friends approved the minute, and I broke my fast. Going hungry for 24 hours opened me up to some of what the hunger-striking prisoners must have experienced, and I am glad God led me to make that witness. I hoped that Friends and others will be led to identify with both the victims and perpetrators of torture, and to work to end this dehumanizing practice forever.

Minute 2011.10: As Friends, we stand firmly opposed to torture committed by anyone in any setting. We support the work of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture ( as well as of Quakers’ Initiative to End Torture ( We urge elected officials to bring to justice those who have authorized torture in violation of international law. We urge our governments to stop preventing the victims of torture from seeking redress and just compensation in our courts. We are also deeply concerned that cruel and inhumane punishment such as involuntary long-term solitary confinement are taking place in prisons in California and throughout the USA and the world. Finally, we support the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), which can help prevent torture and abuse by requiring a ratifying country to establish National Preventative Mechanisms (NPMs) to monitor the treatment of prisoners. In addition to the NPMs, OPCAT allows for international oversight of places of confinement to ensure that torture and other abuses are not occurring.

As Quakers, we believe that torture is a moral and religious issue. We believe that there is "that of God" in every human being and therefore everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Torture does incalculable and long-lasting damage to the torturer, the torture victim and the witnesses of torture. Torture erodes a nation's moral fiber, diminishes its moral standing in the world, incites retaliation, and puts at risk the lives of its citizens abroad and at home.

We urge an end to this practice.”

Como Amigos, declaramos nuestra postura firmamente en contra de la tortura realizada por cualquier persona bajo cualesquieras circunstancias. Apoyamos los esfuerzos de las organizaciones estadounidenses “National Religious Campaign Against Torture” ( y “Quakers Initiative to End Torture” ( Llamamos a nuestros delegados para hacerles responsables por sus acciones quienes hayan autorizado el uso de la tortura en violación al derecho internacional. Queremos que nuestro gobierno deje de impedir a las victimas de la tortura endosada por el estado en su búsqueda por una indemnificación y respuesta justa frente a los tribunales locales. También tenemos una preocupación profunda sobre la práctica de castigos crueles e inhumanos como la encarcelación solitaria de largo plazo en los centros carcelarios tanto en el estado de California como en los demás estados y alrededor del mundo. Por último, apoyamos al Protocolo Optativo para la Resolución en Contra de la Tortura (OPCAT por sus siglas en inglés), lo cual puede ayudar con la prevención de la tortura y el abuso al requerir a los países firmantes implementar a Mecanismos Preventivos Nacionales (los NPM por sus siglas en inglés) para monitorear el tratamiento de los encarcelados. Además a los NPM, la OPCAT contempla la supervisión internacional para lugares de encarcelamiento para asegurar que no esté presente ni la práctica de la tortura ni abusos.

Como Amigos, es nuestro sentir que la tortura es un asunto ambos moral y religioso. Creemos que existe “este de Dios” en cada persona y por lo tanto todos merecen ser tratados con respeto y de manera digna. La tortura causa daños insuperables y de largo plazo tanto para la victima como para el que aplica la tortura. La tortura afecta el contexto moral del país, su prestigio entre la comunidad internacional, incita las represalias y pone en riesgo las vidas de sus cuidadanos tanto en el país como en el extranjero.

Queremos eliminar esta práctica.
Translation by Browen Hillman, Mexico City.