Posted by on Sep 22, 2011 in 2011, Choken Word, Featured, OccupyTogether, Peace, Survival, WAR


This declaration came about under the following circumstances: Byron King read a comment referencing Leo Tolstoy’s book The Kingdom of God is Within. He then read the first chapter which references William Lloyd Garrison who took part in a discussion on the means of suppressing war in the Society for the Establishment of Peace among Men, which existed in 1838 in America. Garrison came to the conclusion that the establishment of universal peace can only be founded on the open profession of the doctrine of non-resistance to evil by violence, in its full significance, as understood by the Quakers, with whom Garrison happened to be on friendly relations. Having come to this conclusion, Garrison thereupon composed and laid before the society a declaration, which was signed at the time–in 1838–by many members. Being non-religious Byron King decided to update this declaration for all the people of the world to embrace.


“We the undersigned, regard it as due to ourselves, to the cause which we love, to the country in which we live, to publish a declaration expressive of the purposes we aim to accomplish and the measures we shall adopt to carry forward the work of peaceful universal reformation.

“We do not acknowledge allegiance to any human government. Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind. We love the land of our nativity only as we love all other lands. The interests and rights of American citizens are not dearer to us than those of the whole human race. Hence we can allow no appeal to patriotism to revenge any national insult or injury…

“We conceive that a nation has no right to defend itself against foreign enemies or to punish its invaders, and no individual possesses that right in his own case, and the unit cannot be of greater importance than the aggregate. If soldiers thronging from abroad with intent to commit rapine and destroy life may not be resisted by the people or the magistracy, then ought no resistance to be offered to domestic troublers of the public peace or of private security.

“The dogma that all the governments of the world are approvingly ordained by any God, and that the powers that be in the United States, in Russia, in Turkey, are in accordance with his will, is no less absurd than impious. It makes the impartial Author of our existence unequal and tyrannical. It cannot be affirmed that the powers that be in any nation are actuated by any spirit or God therefore their overthrow of their subjects is inevitable.
 “We regard inhumane and unlawful not only all wars, whether offensive or defensive, but all preparations for war; every naval ship, every arsenal, every fortification, we regard as inhumane and unlawful; the existence of any kind of standing army, all military chieftains, all monuments commemorative of victory over a fallen foe, all trophies won in battle, all celebrations in honor of military exploits, all appropriations for defense by arms; we regard as unchristian and unlawful every edict of government requiring of its subjects military service.

“Hence we deem it unlawful to bear arms, and we cannot hold any office which imposes on its incumbent the obligation to compel men to do right on pain of imprisonment or death. We therefore voluntarily exclude ourselves from every legislative and judicial body, and repudiate all human politics, worldly honors, and stations of authority. If we cannot occupy a seat in the legislature or on the bench, neither can we elect others to act as our substitutes in any such capacity. It follows that we cannot sue any man at law to force him to return anything he may have wrongly taken from us; if he has seized our coat, we shall surrender him our cloak also rather than subject him to punishment.

“We believe that the penal code of the old covenant–an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth–has been abrogated by any thinking man and that under the new covenant the forgiveness instead of the punishment of enemies should be upheld in all cases whatsoever. To extort money from enemies, cast them into prison, exile or execute them, is obviously not to forgive but to take retribution.

“The history of mankind is crowded with evidences proving that physical coercion is not adapted to moral regeneration, and that the sinful dispositions of men can be subdued only by love; that evil can be exterminated only by good; that it is not safe to rely upon the strength of an arm to preserve us from harm; that there is great security in being gentle, long- suffering, and abundant in mercy; that it is only the meek who shall inherit the earth; for those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.

“Hence as a measure of sound policy–of safety to property, life, and liberty–of public quietude and private enjoyment, we cordially adopt the non-resistance principle, being confident that it provides for all possible consequences, is armed with omnipotent power, and must ultimately triumph over every assailing force.

“If we abide evil by our fundamental principle of not opposing evil by evil we cannot participate in sedition, treason, or violence. We shall submit to every ordinance and every requirement of government, and in no case resist the operation of law, except by meekly submitting to the penalty of disobedience.

“But while we shall adhere to the doctrine of non-resistance and passive submission to enemies, we purpose, in a moral and logical sense, to assail iniquity in high places and in low places, to apply our principles to all existing evil, political, legal, and ecclesiastical institutions, and to hasten the time when the kingdoms of this world will have become the kingdom of love. It appears to us a self-evident truth that whatever dogma is designed to destroy at any period of the world, being contrary to it, ought now to be abandoned. If, then, the time is predicted when swords shall be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, and men shall not learn the art of war any more, it follows that all who manufacture, sell, or wield these deadly weapons do thus array themselves against the peaceful dominion of all men on earth.

“Having thus stated our principles, we proceed to specify the measures we propose to adopt in carrying our object into effect.

“We expect to prevail through the Foolishness of Preaching. We shall endeavor to promulgate our views among all persons, to whatever nation, sect, or grade of society they may belong. Hence we shall organize public lectures, circulate tracts and publications, form societies, and petition every governing body. It will be our leading object to devise ways and means for effecting a radical change in the views, feelings, and practices of society respecting the immorality of war and the treatment of enemies.

“In entering upon the great work before us, we are not unmindful that in its prosecution we may be called to test our sincerity even as in a fiery ordeal. It may subject us to insult, outrage, suffering, yea, even death itself. We anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and calumny. Tumults may arise against us. The proud and pharisaical, the ambitious and tyrannical, principalities and powers, may combine to crush us. So they treated many before us whose example we are humbly striving to imitate. We shall not be afraid of their terror. Our confidence is love and not in man. Having withdrawn from human protection, what can sustain us but that faith which overcomes the world? We shall not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try us, but rejoice inasmuch as we are partakers of men’s sufferings.




  1. Byron King
    September 22, 2011

    Much thanks to Christine Killen for the inspiration.

    And of course much respect to Garrison and Tolstoy.

  2. Christine
    September 22, 2011

    Thank you, Byron, for including the text in your Graduate programme here on Globatron. It’s great to be in a continuous flow of mutual inspiration with you.

    You did a great job of updating the declaration. It’s not something I could commit to, though, because I think that different situations call for different responses, between non-resistance and non-violent resistance. This was a path that Buddha seems to have walked and his non-violent resistance took the form of teaching as Christopher Titmuss here outlines.

    I have taken the path of non-resistance and the path of non-violent resistance because it was important to me to explore both of these options as practical solutions. While non-resistance is certainly preferable to violent resistance, it is also an extreme position of passivity, just as violence is its extreme opposite. Non-violent resistance is the path of the middle way but it takes a great deal of courage and strength to walk that path consistently. I found that during the period I was engaged in non-resistance, this was about providing space for myself to heal from wounds and gain the courage and strength I needed to become an effective non-violent resister of injustice. Every peace warrior needs a place to recover from the wounds of battle and I believe that is the best function of non-resistance.


  3. Byron King
    September 22, 2011

    Interesting distinctions. My wife read this and said in many situations that would mean suicide. I also took issue with it because I have a case pending in a court of law. I believe in the nature of the case and do believe I should take up for myself and property using the legal system at hand (broken as it may be).

    Ghandi called the practice of non-violent resistance Satyagraha.

    An interesting excerpt from the means and ends of Satyagraha entry:

    Gandhi rejected the idea that injustice should, or even could, be fought against “by any means necessary” — if you use violent, coercive, unjust means, whatever ends you produce will necessarily embed that injustice. To those who preached violence and called nonviolent actionists cowards, he replied: “I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence….I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour….But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment.”[13]

    I don’t eat meat. I bike commute. I try and keep as small a carbon footprint as possible to not harm the planet. I don’t seek violence in any manner but I must say I would defend myself and my family if the situation did arrive.

    It was nice to remove God out of the equation. I do believe many in the US government should read this as it seems being Christian is part of the qualities most look for in a leader, especially for President.

    What I have noticed in both is that there is a God element to both. In non-violent resistance the soul or spirit force is also considered a universal truth. That I understand but Gandi also believes that one must have a belief in God to be a peace warrior. I’d like to see the elimination of religion from peaceful protest if possible. I mean not eliminate but don’t indoctrinate. Especially since religion is the reason for so much suffereing and war on this planet.

  4. Christine
    September 23, 2011

    “We therefore voluntarily exclude ourselves from every legislative and judicial body, and repudiate all human politics, worldly honors, and stations of authority. If we cannot occupy a seat in the legislature or on the bench, neither can we elect others to act as our substitutes in any such capacity. It follows that we cannot sue any man at law to force him to return anything he may have wrongly taken from us; if he has seized our coat, we shall surrender him our cloak also rather than subject him to punishment.”

    If it were simply a matter of coats, cloaks and other material objects, this is my preferred position. But when what is at stake concerns the wellbeing of a vulnerable person who cannot defend themselves, we are coerced into appealing to legislative bodies but the result usually depends on how good your lawyer is. Careless advocacy in the early stages is one of the elements that led to the death of Troy Davis. Careless advocacy in all stages of my own case has led to a limited result that is not acceptable and my appeals for reason, compassion and respect for human rights have been ignored because law is not based on reason and compassion but on procedure and control and human rights are not an issue unless it is a human rights case. It is a common misconception that respect for human rights are inbuilt into laws when in fact they are almost universally not, which is why the state of Georgia could do what it liked to Troy Davis and the Scottish legislature can do what it wants to my family.


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