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Demilitarizing Life & Land


201 The Fellowship of Reconciliation pursues a vision of a free and “demilitarized” world in which the Earth’s resources sustain life and promote the well-being of all people.

To do so, we challenge economic exploitation, work to eradicate racism and religious intolerance, and call attention to imperialistic U.S. foreign policy. As we continue to speak truth to power, FOR engages in an ongoing interfaith dialogue to shift the collective unconscious from a fear-based military culture to a peaceful world community grounded in faith and nonviolent justice.

At the start of 2011, we launched a series of projects, campaigns, and collaborations to demilitarize life and land in the Americas and the Middle East.

What does demilitarization mean?

Wars are fought by people. All conflicts and occupations require not only leaders to sound the battle cry and soldiers to do the fighting, but also a body of citizens to justify and support war causes. In the U.S., many people are mesmerized by a military culture with a corporate structure that profits through arms production and sustenance of armed forces, and who unwittingly pay taxes that feed the war machine.

Of life and land

202 Most wars are fought to control land and resources and, ironically, the desired resources and land are squandered and ravaged in the process.

FOR is working to shift the national and global ideologies that glorify and support war to a culture of peace and nonviolent justice. In collaboration with FOR Chapters across the country, Religious Peace Fellowships, and partners, FOR USA is striving to build a movement of people who chose to live nonviolently in preservation of life and land.

How?

FOR invites our members to promote our demilitarization movement through local and regional efforts that we support while we continue our national and international work through three task forces. Our task forces target hotbeds of violence and military activity in the U.S., Latin America, and the Middle East.

Task Force on Social, Economic and Racial Justice

Building on FOR’s legacy and principles of anti-racism and conscientious objection, the Task Force on Social, Economic, and Racial Justice has trained hundreds of young people in nonviolent direct action, registered over 200 conscientious objectors under the age of 27, and continues to support local and national actions toward a demilitarized economy. FOR’s landmark work to desegregate interstate buses and challenge racism in partnership with the Congress of Racial Equality and other pacifist organizations during the Civil Rights Movement demonstrated that compassionate, holistic work is essential for justice. This task force continues the work in collaboration with veterans, grassroots organizers, artists, religious leaders, and environmentalists to expand the understanding of active nonviolence, justice, and counter recruitment.

I Will Not Kill

Through the I Will Not Kill initiative, this task force is building a youth movement to stand against gun violence and oppose military service. I Will Not Kill explores ways to stop the depravation of young people, especially in low-income communities and among people of color, particularly in major cities like Chicago, New Orleans, and New York where gun violence is continuing at alarming rates.

Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean

For more than 27 years, FOR’s Task Force of Latin America and the Caribbean has endeavored to protect human rights in this region of the world through research, education, and direct action. This task force is responsible for groundbreaking research that exposes the profound impact of U.S. military funding of oppressive regimes and the deleterious effects of U.S. military bases. Working in collaboration with sister groups in the U.S. and in Latin America, the task force has been a part of successful efforts to close military bases in Panama, Puerto Rico, and Ecuador, and to hold the U.S. responsible for the cleanup.

We have worked closely with groups in Colombia to oppose the 2009 US-Colombia military cooperation agreement that granted the US access to all military bases and are currently active in the Continental Campaign Against Military Bases. We are also supporting the growing anti-militarism movement in Mexico, which has experienced nearly 40,000 murders since the Calderon government, driven partly the U.S. Merida Initiative, declared a drug war in 2007.

Through a physical presence on the ground as well as political work with civilian and military officials and the diplomatic community, FOR teams provide security and visibility to the peace community of San José de Apartadó, the Campesino Association of Antioqua and the Medellín Youth Network. These Colombian efforts are inspiring examples of demilitarization of life and land through military resistance, youth organizing to create alternatives to war, and campesinos (farmers in Latin America) uniting to promote land sustainability.

Task Force on the Middle East

Like the other task forces, FOR’s Task Force on the Middle East employs research, education, and outreach to promote demilitarization in this highly conflicted area of the world. This task force’s mission is two-fold, with a domestic and an international focus.

Domestically, the task force strives to raise awareness about the billions of dollars wasted and the thousands of lives lost in U.S. military operations in the Middle East, maintains an interfaith dialogue, and speaks out against the wave of Islamophobia. Since the 1920s, FOR has sent delegations of peacemakers to troubled regions of the world and to nations regarded as U.S. enemies. These efforts continue in the task force’s civilian diplomacy trips to Iran, in which delegates experience firsthand the beauty, hospitality, and humanity of a nation that Americans might otherwise fear. Proving the true heart of people thought to be enemies is also behind FOR’s support of “Our Journey to Smile,” the group of Afghan youth peace volunteers that have reached out to the world to “raise the possibility of love.”

Internationally, the task force works to promote understanding of the depletion of the region’s resources and destruction of life and land due to war, especially in Israel-Palestine and the countries of the Persian Gulf. The task force seeks to reconcile the decline in respect and justice between the Middle East and U.S. through education and people-to-people outreach.

Get Involved

Stay Connected

FOR is a fellowship of organizers, educators, strategist, veterans and so much more. If you would like someone to speak to a class, community group or at an upcoming event, contact us and we will be happy to work with you.

If you are a Peace Training Institute graduate, former accompaniment team member, delegate, or local chapter member, there are a number or ways that we can continue building together. Contact Shauen Pearce, Director of the Program Department to plan the next steps.

Build the Legacy

The support and contributions of families and individuals has kept the work going for nearly 100 years. Consider making a donation to the FOR and supporting the ongoing work of peace building through justice and love.

Download this information as a printable PDF (2.6 MB).