Olive the Pacifist

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    Olive Goodykoontz was a member of the Religious Society of Friends, a denomination of Christianity that is entirely pacifist. Not just pacifist in the general "don't start fights" way or it terms of specific conflicts. Rather, completely antiwar in absolutely any situation.

    When World War II began, this became a difficult philosophy to maintain for Olive and many Quakers. She could recognize the horrific things that were happening in Europe and why military intervention was needed. Yet, she could not help but think of things through the lens of that total pacifism - mainly, if everyone were pacifist then the war would not exist in the first place.

    That's not to say that she did not do her part for the war effort. While she complained about it being done through the church, she helped sell war bonds and abided by the rationing rules. She also obsessively kept notes in the back of her journals about the war's progress and the politics in Europe all the way until its end.

    Both during and after the war, the Quakers were unique in their efforts as foreign relief workers. Although they disagreed with Nazi philosophy, they were not anti-German. Some groups helped people escape from the Nazis and brought aid to Germans staying in-country. After the war, while groups like the Red Cross were helping the Allies rebuild, the Quakers were also helping those left behind in former Axis countries. There were still plenty of non-Nazis left in Germany who needed things like food, clothing, and vaccine to keep them going while the scant few non-Nazi beaurocrats tried to get the country put back together again.

    Olive and relief workers like her would also help those who were "de-Nazified" start over, sometimes converting them in the process, and helped them find ways to give back to the community they had helped damage. Olive would go on to meet and aid the families of prisoners of war from both sides.

    Olive did not discuss politicians or American politics often in her journals, but she always exhibited a love of lively political or philosophical debate. Often if she sat on a bus or train next to a former soldier she enjoying engaging them in a polite, yet vigorous debate whether they agreed even a little or not.

    In the memoranda in one of her journals, Olive recorded this Pacifist Pledge: “After careful and prayerful thought I find that as one who is seeking to follow the way of Jesus, that Senior Partner, I can not support war for any purpose. I am determined that this shall not be a passive pacifism, but one in which there is active work done to abolish war and to foster good will among nations, races and classes.”

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