Quakers in Britain are to launch The White Feather Diaries, an online storytelling project to mark the centenary of World War I.
The real-time story follows five Quakers as the war unfolds, exploring their dilemmas and different choices in a daily blog and Twitter feed. The project will run at incremental periods over three years (2014-2016) up to the anniversary of the 1916 Military Service Act which introduced conscription and recognised conscientious objection. The stories will chart the individuals’ journey of discovery as they find out that opposing war is never easy and being a pacifist is always a brave decision.
By using digital media the project is designed to resonate with an audience who are the same age as those called up to fight in 1914. The interactive nature of The White Feathers Diaries will create opportunities for discussion and a deeper understanding about the causes of conflict and current peacemaking. The White Feather Diaries will raise challenging questions and ask why this is still as relevant now as it was 100 years ago.
"We want people to understand choosing to be a pacifist is never easy in a culture of war. It is always a brave and difficult decision," said Jane Dawson, of Quakers in Britain. "Some people suffered, some were imprisoned and died there."
The tribunals which heard the cases of conscientious objectors were "not necessarily as fair as they could be" she added, "… we as British people should be incredibly proud [of establishing the right]. This is a fascinating part of our record as a liberal-minded country."