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Friendship will drive out hate

Philip Young believes that friendship with each other is a key element in bringing peace to the world.

Friendship is a source of joy and it makes me joyful to think of my friendship with Ingo. I met Ingo, and his wife Annette, because the Church of Saint Thomas Norwich is twinned with a Protestant church in Haltern, Germany. I was vicar at Saint Thomas from 2007 to 2012 and Ingo was one of the Pastors at the Haltern Church. Our friendship continues stronger than ever, and it means the world to me, and to my wife Ann.
St. Thomas's church was bombed during the Blitz June in 1942, so the later friendship with the German church signified a moving away from war to peace. It signified friendship between former enemies.
The Quakers have a saying which I find helpful. They encourage us ‘to seek to know one another in the things that are eternal’. Our friendship with Ingo and Annette is a friendship between people of faith and we love to share in those eternal values that both our churches have nourished in us.  We share a laugh and good times together.
We have recently been lent a book by a good friend at our church, and it is about a joyful friendship between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The title of the book is ‘The Book of Joy’. In 2015 the Archbishop travelled to the home of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India and spent a very joyful week together. These two great spiritual leaders both embody joy in their lives and their friendship, and this account of their meeting is a truly joyful read. Ann and I are reading it to each other and this is deepening our friendship in marriage together.
It seems to me, especially in these distressing days of war in Ukraine, that friendship really matters. I am moved by the generosity of families welcoming Ukrainian refugees into their homes. Hopefully firm friendships will flourish, and this can only be for the good.
It is extremely distressing to see the breakdown of good relations between Ukraine and Russia, who, not so long ago in historical terms, were united in their fight against Hitler and his terrible acts. Now Putin is making war and terrible war crimes are being committed once again. We must do all in our power to overcome the hatred and violence of war and to build friendship and peace across the boundaries. Our argument is not with the ordinary people of the world or of Russia, but with those in authority who are misusing their power.
We should not underestimate the power of our friendships. The Quakers believe in a world community of friendship and that we should all be peacemakers. Jesus taught us the new commandment of love and we should not underestimate the power of love.
We are people who believe in resurrection. That life overcomes death. That love overcomes  hatred. Each of us needs to build peace around us and the joy of friendship is part of building that environment of peace. If I am friends with someone then it is unthinkable that I should be at war with them.

The above image is courtesy of Michal Jarmoluk on pixabay.com

Philip is willing to speak up against the present war being waged by Russia and would welcome invitations from radio, television or any other interested group. He says, “As a pacifist I am not willing to bear arms, but I am willing to stand up for my beliefs and to face any consequences for doing so. It is the least I can do for the suffering people of Ukraine, and for the Russian people who are not hearing the truth. Speaking truth to power is a traditional Quaker response to falsehood and lies.”  

Philip Young June 2014Philip is an Anglican, Quaker, and a member of the Third Order of Franciscans, and now lives in Felixstowe. Until July 2014 he was the Diocesan Environmental Officer for the Norwich Diocese. In June 2017 he stood as an Independent Candidate for the General Election in the Suffolk Coastal Constituency.  He is now Associate Priest at St. John and St. Edmund in Felixstowe and a freelance writer on spiritual and political matters. He is available to run Quiet Days, give talks, presentations or to preach and can be contacted at philipyoung@btinternet.com. Philip is developing a new website www.revolutionoflovenow.com.


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