What gives us hope?

This has been a tough time. As I write this, the presidential election in the United States has not officially come to a conclusion and the nine-day interval since Election Day has felt like a month, at least. COVID cases are beginning their predicted rise in numbers. Much of the nation continues to be in conflict about police violence. We know we have our work for the future cut out for us, and it is daunting. Not only must we continue our focus on international peace and a US foreign policy that embraces and facilitates that, but we must also increase our focus on peace, justice, and accountability within our own communities. It is a difficult and, at times overwhelming, task.

So, what sustains us?

For me, it has been finding tangible evidence that I am not alone in this work. Quaker House has a grand mission and a tiny staff. There is no way we can do it alone. Quaker House has worked hard to collaborate with both wider Quaker and non-Quaker peace organizations on a national level, and also on a local level. We interact with and join efforts with several social justice organizations and groups here. It gives me hope and strength knowing that there are other people just as committed to making this world a better place for all of us. And, the members of these groups know and support the work that Quaker House does. So, when the US military carried out an open assassination of General Soleimani and we already had a protest in the works to protest the stoking of tensions with Iran, this community of activists, many of them veterans, was there holding signs and playing music right there with us. In a military town surrounding the largest US military installation, this gives me hope.

No New Wars! Protest led by Quaker House in Fayetteville, NC (before COVID — no masks and no distancing — so odd to see, now).

When, as an integral part of the GI Rights Network, we decided we needed more counselors to help with the calls from service members, our counselors to the Hotline, Steve Woolford and Lenore Yarger, built a nine-week training course for Zoom, many of you helped us spread the word, and we have just finished with a highly capable and committed group of ten. The class participants will now continue on to training on actual calls, paired with skillful long-time counselors. As part of our commitment to the GI Rights Network, I also participated in the training and have been so impressed with Lenore and Steve’s ability to share knowledge and engage participants. All of this gives me hope that the work continues with good people.

Lenore and Steve in a screen capture of training—late at night to accommodate multiple US time zones.

In addition, little random, spontaneous flashes of humor give me a break in tensions and a boost of energy. Several days after Election Day, in that tiny lull in which a projected winner had been declared but before the full attack on the results, someone noted that Twitter had seen the slightest increase in non-political posts. Harkening back to the early days of COVID isolation policies, they noted “Nature is healing.”

Finally, my best source of hope and sustaining energy in this work is you, our supporters, encouragers, fellow peacemakers, and donors. Quaker House has been doing this work for 51 years, ever since the Vietnam War. We are still here. We still work for peace, healing, justice, and a culture of nonviolence, and we have been able to do this because of you. Thank you. May we go forward together, and may you find your wells of hope, humor, community, and strength.

By Kindra Bradley, Quaker House Executive Director

Published in our Winter 2020 newsletter, News from the HomeFront.