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December 27. 2012 10:12PM

Another View -- Concord Religious Society of Friends: It is past time to beat our swords into ploughshares

Concord Friends Meeting (Quakers) has deep concerns about the direction our country is heading as our Reps. Charles Bass and Frank Guinta and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte consider increasing taxes and decreasing government spending. The looming automatic budget cuts and tax increases will severely affect those who are struggling financially, particularly the working poor. Starting next month, they would owe more taxes and find many services being curtailed as automatic cuts downsize programs that help with housing, food, medicines, remedial education and more.

This would be mean and shortsighted, especially in light of the huge amount that will continue to go to funding preparations for and engagement in war. While the so-called fiscal cliff cutbacks would also affect future spending for weapons, the military budget is already bloated and was slated to grow even more.

Lawmakers who get major reelection funding from defense contractors insist we can't afford to cut their projects, but some of the spending is not even wanted by the military chiefs. For every 100 jobs created by Pentagon spending, the same investment would create 251 jobs in education, 169 jobs in health care, or 147 jobs in clean energy.

It is past time that we realize the folly of spending far more on weapons than do all potential foes combined. Military spending has doubled in the past 10 years. Thirty-seven cents of every dollar in taxes this year goes to fund current and past wars.

Theásubstantial military advantage the U.S. maintains in the world only seems to lead to American involvements that increase hatred, division and killing in places where we do not understand the full dynamics of the conflicts we are drawn into and where we often regret becoming involved at all. We believe that major cuts in spending on preparation for war would increase the chances of world peace and go far in resolving concerns over the level of the U.S. debt.

When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Having a huge military makes it much more tempting to use it to solve problems. We need to shrink our military and look for other options for solving world problems.

Quakers believe that war is not the answer, but when our society has not developed other ways to solve world problems, it looks like the answer. Yet we do have many other tools in our tool kit for solving problems. There are nonviolent means that lead to real solutions that benefit all. It is time now to truly beat our swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks and learn war no more.

This column represents the collective view of the Concord Friends Meeting (Quakers). It was approved by the members on Dec. 16 at the meeting house at 11 Oxbow Pond Road in Canterbury.

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