Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends

Changing Militarism to Peace Focus, Recharging Along the Way

Workshop Number: 
Kindra Bradley
Who may register?: 
Open to All
Experiential Activities: 
part-time attenders welcome (can come any day; some might only attend Thursday or Friday)
half gathering attenders welcome
First half (Monday-Wednesday)
Second half (Wednesday/Thursday-Friday)

This workshop will explore the pervasiveness of militarism in our culture, building spiritual resiliency ourselves and in our families, and methods of nurturing increased focus on peacebuilding within our society.  This workshop will maintain a welcoming atmosphere for all, including for those with military experience personally and/or in their families. 

Workshop Description

A military culture, nationalism, and conflation of patriotism and politics with Christianity is prevalent and seems to be increasing in our society. For those who seek to nurture peacebuilding, this can be frustrating, overwhelming, and discouraging, at times. This workshop discuss ways in which militarism is ingrained in our culture and will also explore ways to help our society internalize a focus on peace and peacebuilding. In addition, we will explore ways for us, as individuals and families, to further develop our spiritual strengths and gifts of discernment as well as discuss methods of refocusing our sense of grounding, purpose, and hope when despair creeps in.

Incorporated throughout will be an ongoing discussion of the use of militaristic language in everyday English and possible peace-nurturing alternatives as well as the inclusion of examples of music and art on peacebuilding.

We will begin each daily session with a “called” meeting for worship. The last portion of each workshop day will introduce the topic of discussion for the next day so that class participants will be prepared to focus their worship the next morning.  A short description of the topic for our first session on Monday will be emailed out to participants shortly before The Gathering begins. If possible, we may choose to begin our worship outside as we connect with and through our natural surroundings. Participants with mobility needs are encouraged to freely register for this workshop and then communicate with me so that this possible plan can be adjusted appropriately.

Following this focused worship, we will have time for sharing before we move back into our inside workshop location where we will continue the discussion for that day.  

Topics that will be discussed will include:

  • the conflation of patriotism/territory/nationalism and religion,
  • the influence on our national subconscious of military readiness and a predisposition towards conflict through the maintenance of the Selective Service System, particularly with no conscientious objector option, and of military recruiters in schools,
  • encouraging more focus on peace studies and the study of peaceful international responses to conflict in the schools,
  • how to create a safe environment for veterans to share their experiences so that we can learn from them and so that the horrors, chaos, and hidden wounds of war are brought out into the light of day and acknowledged, and so we can begin to take responsibility as a nation,
  • what is attractive about military service and some alternatives,
  • how sacred texts of various faith traditions address peace and peacemaking,
  • strengthening our own faith, spirituality, or centeredness,
  • strengthening our own gifts of discernment,
  • intentional inclusion of service members, veterans, and their families in our relationships and Meetings,
  • building relationships with those outside our normal circles of interaction, and
  • methods of re-centering and re-focusing with hope and purpose when despair over new developments and slow progress overshadows us,

We will take time for personal journaling and/or drawing each day, including some days with writing prompts. If participants have journals or sketch pads that they would like to bring to class, they are encouraged to do so. Paper or a small notebook will also be available to participants. The plan is to have this journaling/sketch time back-to-back with our daily break so that participants may walk around, change locations, or go outside as they desire to make the best use of this time for their personal reflective processes. When we reconvene, participants will be given an opportunity to share what they were inspired to write or create if they so choose, but there will be no expectation of such on individuals.

As noted above, we will reserve the last portion of the workshop for a brief introduction of the next day’s topic so that participants will be prepared to hold it in worship the next morning.

There is no cost for this workshop, and it is not necessary to have read any specific materials before the workshop.

Leader Experience

I was the Monday workshop leader in the sampler-style workshop that was trialed at the 2018 Gathering, “The Power of Truth Through Thought and Action.” My session was “The Peace Testimony, Conscientious Objection, and Moral Injury.”

During my past year as the Executive Director of Quaker House, I have led numerous interactive workshops at yearly and monthly meeting gatherings, at a state-wide conference for mental health professionals, and in the community. These have usually addressed conscientious objection, moral injury, and the work and history of Quaker House.

In the past, I have also taught in a religious setting, teaching a monthly 45-minute class to a women’s group at a church. I performed the research and designed the content and structure of the class. These classes were designed to engage the participants in discussion. I have found that learning for all individuals, including myself, was increased by the thoughtful input of those in attendance.

Finally, I have designed an interfaith (Quaker, Mormon, other Christian denominations, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist) weekly group study of sacred texts that will begin here at Quaker House on October 11, 2018. The planning, coordination with other faith leaders, and publicity for this endeavor has already taken place and will be ongoing. In November, we will begin a bi-monthly writing group for military members and veterans in our community at Quaker House. This has been a culmination of a year’s worth of preparation on my part, building on both my experience and my BA in English.