A. J. Muste, a U.S. pacifist leader died 45 years ago on February 11, 1967. Raised in the Dutch Reformed Church, he had to leave several churches he pastured because of his opposition to war. he dabbled for awhile with Marxism but returned to his radical Christian pacifist roots. He served for thirteen years as executive secretary of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a US religious pacifist organization. Active against war, including the Viet Nam War, he died shortly after a visit to North Viet Nam to witness the effects of the US bombing.
He once wrote these words that reveal a wisdom that we need to nurture:
“One has to be both a resister and a reconciler to be an effective pacifist. You have to be sure that when you’re reconciling you’re also resisting any tendency to gloss things over; and when you’re primarily resisting, you have to be careful not to hate, not to win victories over human beings. You want to change people, but you don’t want to defeat them.”