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Case #804

A Quaker perspective on responding to terrorism


George Lakey introduces us to the boldness of the pioneering Quakers. When most people feared to venture into the perceived savagery and wildness of Pennsylvania their "practical idealism" of non-violence made them the safest people on the frontier.

Ghandi was a similar type of practical idealist; he applied out-of-box thinking directly to the political realities at hand. When India was threatened with a WWII Japanese invasion, he launched a nationwide offensive against British rule and sent associates to the vulnerable areas to help organize non-violent resistance to a Japanese invasion. Gandhi's genius as a visionary leader was to make his immediate actions point toward the emergence of something-not-yet-realized. He was one of the most effective nation-builders the world has seen because he believed in the consistency of ends and means. As with Nelson Mandela, he shared a passion for operating politically from the high moral ground.

Gandhi's brilliance lay in a two-fold strategy: first, to be able to perceive the possibility of a new emergent order in the midst of chaos; and second, to refuse to undermine that possibility by means that make the emergence impossible. This strategy is what most marks the difference between political innovators and the leaders who run their people off cliffs by operating within conventional wisdom.

Lakey postulates what Ghandi's response would have been to 9/11. Lakey then reviews the fundamental architecture of terrorism and it's goal of continuing cycles of violent revenge, increased polarization, and conflict. He challenges us to embark on a spiritual quest: to collectively let go of "empire" (i.e. world economic control and "might makes right"), and then to ground our new ideas with actions that align with the new vision of cooperation for the future.


Interesting insights! Visit his website to learn how he works to manifest his
Location: US
Action: Education/P.R.
Setting: Developed World
Extent of Action: National
Issues: Peace/Conflict Resolution
Year(s): 2002
Outcome concept (promising but not tried)
Source: February 2002, Friends Journal (Quakers), p. 8


George Lakey (Director of Training for Change- )
Prepared By: dp, 06/03
Rating: 1
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