Forum November 2017

Nonviolent responses to Charlottesville

I was very impressed by the brave actions of Friends from Charlottesville, Va. (“Charlottesville Quakers and the Ongoing Stand against White Nationalists” by Isaac Barnes May, FJ Sept. online). As someone who has been a Friend for 55 years, I have been concerned about the lack of discussion about a nonviolent response to the incident there. Since I wasn’t in the city, I felt I had no right to ask for a nonviolent response, but local Friends carried it out. Thank you.

Margery Cornwell
Brooklyn, N.Y.


Recognizing that of God in the Selective Service board

As a member of a Selective Service local board, I feel compelled to clarify a few of Curt Torell’s comments in “Why Talk about Conscientious Objection with Youth?” (FJ Oct.). A number of times in the article, Torell claims that women will soon be required to register for Selective Service, but he doesn’t cite a source for this. It may come from the approval of a 2016 budget amendment by the Senate, a reaction to the Obama administration’s expanded combat roles for women. The final version of the bill, which President Barack Obama signed six months later, did not include the provision. Even Representative Duncan D. Hunter, who introduced the amendment, voted against it and said that it was meant to “force the conversation” about the new policy.

Asserting that the Selective Service System’s mission “is to induct people into the military, not to help COs” is also inaccurate. Our role is to be prepared to provide manpower in a national emergency, and to manage a program of alternative service for COs. Recognition of that of God in these trained citizen volunteers (rather than referring to us simply as “a registry”) is just as imperative as the discernment of a leading to conscientious objection to war.

Many local boards are in search of additional members. If Friends are led to serve in this capacity, they can apply online at

Josephine Posti
Pittsburgh, Pa.


Expanding conscientious objection

Thanks to Daniel A. Seeger and American Friends Service Committee and their legal team for their accomplishments expanding conscientious objector classifications in 1965 (“An AFSC Defense of the Rights of Conscience,” FJ Oct.). In 1970 I benefited from your work when I persuaded my draft board to recognize me as a full conscientious objector, even though I told them I agreed with people’s wars of resistance, including the war of the Vietnamese against the U.S. attack. Perhaps the draft board misunderstood the law? Not my problem. Anyway although eligible and with a draftable lottery number, I was not drafted.

Bill Nevins
Albuquerque, N.M.


The perfect message at the perfect time

I have paused the new QuakerSpeak video, “Making Space for Faith” (Interview with Stephanie Crumley-Effinger,, Oct.) at this line:

One of the gifts of . . . Quakers, when we can remember it, is the invitation to be and not solely to do, and to have our doing arise from faithful being rather than just from our really good ideas.

This is a perfect message for me at the most perfect time: it is exactly what I need to hear. I have grown away from my sitting practice—and many other habits that I had cultivated as well—with a move across the country. I have been telling myself that being in new surroundings and learning the new pathways to new places for feeding, caretaking, and nourishing myself have made maintaining or re-establishing my old habits difficult.

I forget that sitting with God; with beauty; or that which is of me, and larger than me at the same time, and simply “being” is really at the crux of the matter. All of my “doing” can arise from my “faithfulness of being.”

Thank you. Much gratitude for all of the QuakerSpeak videos, but especially for this one. I marvel at the many pieces that came together for this moment: locating the speaker; filming the speaker; the speaker’s message; editing the film; and me waking up on this morning, at this time, needing to hear this message right now, and here it is.

I am a lucky duck.

Deborah Dougherty
Tarrytown, N.Y.


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