Chapter 23 - Social responsibility

23.01 Faith & Action
23.11 Corporate Responsibility
23.14 Social Justice
23.20 Poverty
23.24 Slavery
23.30 Torture
23.32 Discrimination & Disadvantage

23.47 Individual & Community
23.53 Work & Economic Affairs
23.71 Education
23.86 Friends & State Authority
23.92 Conscription
23.94 Crime & Punishment


23.01 Remember your responsibility as citizens for the government of your
      town and country, and do not shirk the effort and time this may
      demand. Do not be content to accept things as they are, but keep an
      alert and questioning mind. Seek to discover the causes of social
      unrest, injustice and fear; try to discern the new growing-points in
      social and economic life. Work for an order of society which will
      allow men and women to develop their capacities and will foster their
      desire to serve.

      Advices, 1964

23.02 True godliness don't turn men out of the world but enables them to
      live better in it and excites their endeavours to mend it... Christians
      should keep the helm and guide the vessel to its port; not meanly
      steal out at the stern of the world and leave those that are in it
      without a pilot to be driven by the fury of evil times upon the rock or
      sand of ruin.

      William Penn, 1682

23.03 We know that Jesus identified himself with the suffering and the
      sinful, the poor and the oppressed. We know that he went out of his
      way to befriend social outcasts. We know that he warned us against
      the deceitfulness of riches, that wealth and great possessions so easily
      come between us and God, and divide us from our neighbours. The
      worship of middle-class comfort is surely a side-chapel in the temple
      of Mammon. It attracts large congregations, and Friends have been
      known to frequent it. We know that Jesus had compassion on the
      multitude and taught them many things concerning the Kingdom. He
      respected the common folk, appealed to them and was more hopeful
      of a response from them than from the well-to-do, the clever and the
      learned. Yet he never flattered the workers, never fostered in them
      feelings of envy and hatred, and never urged them to press for their
      own interests ruthlessly and fight the class war to the finish. He
      called them to love their enemies and to pray for them that
      despitefully use them. Yet the very fact that he appealed to the
      humble and meek leads up to ... 'the discovery that the blessing and
      upraising of the masses are the fundamental interest of society'. In
      brief, he makes us all ashamed that we are not all out in caring for
      our fellow-men.

      H G Wood, 1958

23.04 The duty of the Society of Friends is to be the voice of the oppressed
      but [also] to be conscious that we ourselves are part of that
      oppression. Uncomfortably we stand with one foot in the kingdom
      of this world and with the other in the Eternal Kingdom. Seldom can
      we keep the inward and outward working of love in balance, let alone
      the consciousness of living both in time and in eternity, in
      timelessness. Let us not be beguiled into thinking that political action
      is all that is asked of us, nor that our personal relationship with God
      excuses us from actively confronting the evil in this world. The
      political and social struggles must be waged, but a person is more and
      needs more than politics, else we are in danger of gaining the whole
      world but losing our souls.

      Eva I Pinthus, 1987

23.05 Evils which have struck their roots deep in the fabric of human
      society are often accepted, even by the best minds, as part of the
      providential ordering of life. They lurk unsuspected in the system of
      things until men of keen vision and heroic heart drag them into the
      light, or until their insolent power visibly threatens human welfare.

      William Charles Braithwaite, 1919

23.06 'Politics' cannot be relegated to some outer place, but must be
      recognised as one side of life, which is as much the concern of
      religious people and of a religious body as any other part of life. Nay,
      more than this, the ordering of the life of man in a community, so
      that he may have the chance of a full development, is and always has
      been one of the main concerns of Quakerism.

      Lucy F Morland, 1919

23.07 The testimony of Marsden Monthly Meeting concerning John Bright (1811-
      1889), who was a member of parliament for over 40 years and held ministerial
      office, shows how he carried the calm strength of his religious faith into his political
      His deep sense of responsibility in the sight of God, and his intense
      human sympathy were the most powerful influences in drawing him
      from business into public life; and his natural nervousness was thus
      overcome by his sympathetic nature taking up the cause of the poor
      and the wronged. Of his public speeches it might be said, he believed
      and therefore he spoke. His aim was not popularity or party triumph, but
      the hope of advancing the cause of Truth and Right so far as he saw
      Although at one time there were grave doubts in the minds of many
      Friends as to whether it was desirable for members of our Society to
      engage in active political life ... it has been evident in John Bright's
      case that he entered upon it under a deep sense of duty, and that he
      endeavoured to carry his Christianity with him into all his public life.

23.08 'Two sins have my people committed; they have forsaken me, a
      spring of living water, and they have hewn themselves cisterns,
      cracked cisterns that can hold no water' (Jer 2:13). I know of no
      better description of the world we live in than that. We have
      forgotten that we need the life-giving water of the holy spirit if the
      material element of the world in which we live is not, sooner or later,
      to turn into dust and ashes; and we have developed social institutions
      which cannot hold or channel the life-giving water anyway...
      As Christians we need to see ourselves as God's plumbers, working
      on tanks and channels for the living water that can quicken the daily
      life of men, women and children... Jesus taught us about patterns of
      living that make for wholeness as we and our neighbours care for one
      another and build one another up. And all the patterns that Jesus
      showed us of cisterns and channels of caring and service challenge
      the patterns of Mammon that offer quicker and more showy results,
      but that end in the debris of a possessive society that allows the living
      water to run away into the sand. Good plumbers build to last; they
      don't fall for fashions that rust and fade and crack.
      Seventeenth-century Friends were good plumbers. In and out of
      season, in and out of jail, in and out of court, counting house and
      farmstead, our Quaker forebears challenged the conventions of the
      day - in politics, in commerce, in the law, in the established church,
      in social etiquette, in education, in attitudes to war, poverty and
      crime. In face of the sterile institutions of their day they found living
      answers about the ways in which men and women might go about
      their business of living together.

      Roger Wilson, 1976

23.09 We are all the poorer for the crushing of one man, since the dimming
      of the Light anywhere darkens us all.

      Michael Sorensen, 1986

23.10 We need both a deeper spirituality and a more outspoken witness. If
      our spirituality can reach the depths of authentic prayer, our lives will
      become an authentic witness for justice, peace and the integrity of
      creation, a witness which becomes the context for our prayer. Out of
      the depths of authentic prayer comes a longing for peace and a
      passion for justice. And our response to violence and injustice is to
      pray more deeply, because only God can show us the way out of the
      mess that the world is in. And only God gives us the strength to
      follow that Way.

      Gordon Matthews, 1989


23.11 We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government, nor are
      we for this party nor against the other ... but we are for justice and
      mercy and truth and peace and true freedom, that these may be
      exalted in our nation, and that goodness, righteousness, meekness,
      temperance, peace and unity with God, and with one another, that
      these things may abound.

      Edward Burrough, 1659

23.12 The word 'testimony' is used by Quakers to describe a witness to the
      living truth within the human heart as it is acted out in everyday life.
      It is not a form of words, but a mode of life based on the realisation
      that there is that of God in everybody, that all human beings are
      equal, that all life is interconnected. It is affirmative but may lead to
      action that runs counter to certain practices currently accepted in
      society at large. Hence a pro-peace stance may become an anti-war
      protest, and a witness to the sacredness of human life may lead to
      protests against capital punishment. These testimonies reflect the
      corporate beliefs of the Society, however much individual Quakers
      may interpret them differently according to their own light. They are
      not optional extras, but fruits that grow from the very tree of faith.

      Harvey Gillman, 1988

23.13 Seeking to live at all times in a divine order of life, Quakers have
      always counted social service part of Christianity. In fidelity to the
      genius of their inward experience, they have set themselves the task
      of developing their own spiritual sensitiveness to the light of truth;
      and have then resolutely confronted the unawakened conscience of
      the world with the demands of the new light, and have borne witness
      to it with undaunted patience. This has resulted in progressive
      enlightenment for themselves, and in the slow but sure triumph of
      many of the causes of which they have become champions. The
      reform of the criminal law, the improvement of prisons, the
      suppression of the slave-trade and of the institution of slavery, the
      abolition of the opium traffic, the protection of native races, the
      repeal of the state regulation of vice, the emancipation of women,
      have all been powerfully helped to victory - however incomplete -
      by Quaker action on these lines, side by side with that of other
      noble-hearted reformers. Other great ills, patent or latent in our
      civilisation, have yet to be overcome, perhaps have yet to be
      perceived; the old philanthropy has to deepen into something more
      vital if the full demands made by the teaching of Christ are to be
      obeyed; but the faithful following of the Light that illumines the alert
      conscience still seems to many of us the truest way for securing this
      deeper experience and for recognising and combating the evils that
      menace social and international life.

      William Charles Braithwaite, 1919


23.14 Our gracious Creator cares and provides for all his creatures. His
      tender mercies are over all his works; and so far as his love influences
      our minds, so far we become interested in his workmanship and feel
      a desire to take hold of every opportunity to lessen the distresses of
      the afflicted and increase the happiness of the creation. Here we have
      a prospect of one common interest from which our own is
      inseparable, that to turn all the treasures we possess into the channel
      of universal love becomes the business of our lives...
      Oppression in the extreme appears terrible: but oppression in more
      refined appearances remains to be oppression; and where the
      smallest degree of it is cherished it grows stronger and more
      extensive. To labour for a perfect redemption from this spirit of
      oppression is the great business of the whole family of Christ Jesus in
      this world.

      John Woolman, 1763
      See also 20.32 & 20.34

23.15 Reduce and simplify your material needs to the point where you can
      easily satisfy them yourself, so that those who live for the Spirit and
      claim to live for it do not correspondingly increase the material
      burden weighing on other people, cutting them off from the
      possibility or even the desire to develop their spirit also.
      How will the world be better off if, in developing your spiritual life,
      you make the material life of others that much more burdensome,
      and if, like in the movement of scales, as you rise yourself towards
      the eternal, you make other people descend by the same degree, away
      from him, beyond him? You have only introduced or confirmed an
      inequality and an injustice, without increasing the total of the Spirit.

      Pierre Ceresole, 1937
      See also 25.13

23.16 The war of 1914-18 made Friends more vividly aware of the close connection
      between war and the social order. Nine months after the outbreak of war London
      Yearly Meeting was impressed by the words of John Woolman: May we look
      upon our treasures, the furniture of our houses, and our garments,
      and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our
      possessions. After three years' exercise of mind eight 'Foundations of a true
      social order' were adopted. They were not intended as rules of life but as an
      attempt to set forth ideals that are aspects of eternal Truth and the direct outcome
      of our testimony to the individual worth of the human soul. Though they
      proclaimed the ending of 'restrictions' of sex, they spoke of God as Father and
      human beings as men and brothers, as was conventional in their time.
          i.      The Fatherhood of God, as revealed by Jesus Christ,
          should lead us toward a brotherhood which knows no restriction
          of race, sex or social class.
          ii.     This brotherhood should express itself in a social order
          which is directed, beyond all material ends, to the growth of
          personality truly related to God and man.
          iii.    The opportunity of full development, physical, moral and
          spiritual, should be assured to every member of the community,
          man, woman and child. The development of man's full personality
          should not be hampered by unjust conditions nor crushed by
          economic pressure.
          iv.     We should seek for a way of living that will free us from
          the bondage of material things and mere conventions, that will
          raise no barrier between man and man, and will put no excessive
          burden of labour upon any by reason of our superfluous demands.
          v.       The spiritual force of righteousness, loving-kindness and
          trust is mighty because of the appeal it makes to the best in every
          man, and when applied to industrial relations achieves great
          vi.      Our rejection of the methods of outward domination, and
          of the appeal to force, applies not only to international affairs, but
          to the whole problem of industrial control. Not through
          antagonism but through co-operation and goodwill can the best
          be obtained for each and all.
          vii.     Mutual service should be the principle upon which life is
          organised. Service, not private gain, should be the motive of all
          viii. The ownership of material things, such as land and capital,
          should be so regulated as best to minister to the need and
          development of man.

23.17 Joseph Rowntree (1836-1925) was a cocoa manufacturer who studied the
      problems of poverty and of drink. He was in advance of his times in recognising
      the dangers inherent in sentimentally motivated charity. He devoted much of his
      own wealth to establishing three trusts to carry forward his concern for Quaker
      witness and for research and political action to make possible necessary changes in
      Charity as ordinarily practised, the charity of endowment, the charity
      of emotion, the charity which takes the place of justice, creates much
      of the misery which it relieves, but does not relieve all the misery it


23.18 Much of current philanthropical effort is directed to remedying the
      more superficial manifestations of weakness and evil, while little
      thought or effort is directed to search out their underlying causes.
      The soup kitchen in York never has difficulty in obtaining financial
      aid, but an enquiry into the extent and causes of poverty would enlist
      little support.

      Joseph Rowntree, 1904

23.19 Are you working towards the removal of social injustices? Have you
      attempted to examine their causes objectively, and are you ready to
      abandon old prejudices and think again? Do you, as disciples of
      Christ, take a living interest in the social conditions of the district in
      which you live? Do you seek to promote the welfare of those in any
      kind of need and a just distribution of the resources of the world?

      Queries, 1964

      Poverty and housing

23.20 It was an initiative by Harriett Wilson some twenty years ago that led
      to the formation of the Child Poverty Action Group. She brought
      her concern about poverty in Britain to the Social & Economic
      Affairs Committee (one of the predecessors of Quaker Social
      Responsibility & Education) who organised a meeting of about
      twenty concerned people at Toynbee Hall... During the meeting the
      decision to form the group simply made itself. I was then asked
      whether the Society of Friends would sponsor it. As I stood up to
      reply I was in a deep dilemma. I could not escape the awe-inspiring
      feeling that history was being made; it was right for the Society to
      have brought those concerned together, but it was not for us, as a
      small religious body, to undertake the political operations which
      would obviously be needed to achieve the group's objective.
      In the event the CPAG was formed as a non-denominational
      charitable body. It has grown into one of the most effective pressure
      groups in the country, and one of the ways by which Friends could
      help to alleviate the undoubtedly increasing poverty would be to
      support the group.
      Apart from campaigning for a better deal for the poor generally, the
      Child Poverty Action Group advises people on how to make sure
      that they get the welfare provisions to which they are entitled; and
      the group brings test cases to that end.

      Richard Allen, 1984

23.21 A public statement by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain
      agreed in session at London Yearly Meeting 22-25 May 1987:
      Quakers in Britain have felt called to issue this statement in order to
      address a matter of urgent national priority to promote debate and to
      stimulate action.
      We are angered by actions which have knowingly led to the
      polarisation of our country - into the affluent, who epitomise success
      according to the values of a materialistic society, and the 'have-leasts',
      who by the expectations of that same society are oppressed, judged,
      found wanting and punished.
      We value that of God in each person, and affirm the right of
      everyone to contribute to society and share in life's good things,
      beyond the basic necessities.
      We commit ourselves to learning again the spiritual value of each
      other. We find ourselves utterly at odds with the priorities in our
      society which deny the full human potential of millions of people in
      this country. That denial diminishes us all. There must be no 'them'
      and 'us'.
      We appreciate the stand taken by other churches and we wish to
      work alongside them.
      As a Religious Society and as individuals we commit ourselves to
      examine again how we use our personal and financial resources. We
      will press for change to enable wealth and power to be shared more
      evenly within our nation. We make this statement publicly at a time
      of national decision [a general election] in the hope that, following
      the leadings of the Spirit, each one of us in Britain will take
      appropriate action.

23.22 If we do not have the sense that selfishness is right, we may yet be
      carried along by the prevailing social currents to behave as though we
      do. More insidiously, we may seek material well-being for those we
      love, and thus achieve a sort of displaced selfishness. We may need
      to examine what we really believe, and in the light of that we can
      address questions about personal conduct. The main question for us
      who are comfortable is whether we use our positions of comparative
      power to arrogate to ourselves more than our reasonable share of the
      resources of the world. If so, we should try to redistribute what we
      can, to live in a more responsible way. For those who are poor, a
      different question arises: what is selfish materialism, and what is
      proper aspiration?
      We cannot take more than our share of finite resources unless we
      have the power so to do. Poverty and powerlessness are bound up
      with each other. Poverty leads to powerlessness, and powerlessness
      leads to poverty.

      Martin Wyatt, 1988

23.23 We need to see the problem of homelessness as only one end of a
      spectrum of evil that has the massive subsidies to owners at the
      other. It is a problem that will be as difficult and painful to solve as
      slavery. Slavery as an evil shared many of the qualities of the present
      housing situation - it benefited the wealthy, created an underclass
      and denied them human rights. The solution was painful, for
      abolition often required that slave owners abandon their investment
      with no recompense. To change our attitudes to housing will be no
      less of a challenge to us than slavery was for the reformers, not only
      because institutional evil is hard to recognise but also because so
      many of us benefit personally from the present situation.
      We must first understand the present system and become clear about
      the extent of right and wrong that it contains. If we could achieve
      this, we could first work towards a consensus on goals and then, I
      hope with other churches, start on the secular arguments.
      This is a challenge that the Society, and indeed other churches, must
      face. If we fail to address the roots of an issue in which most of us
      are unwittingly part of the problem, we will need to look very
      carefully at the claims we make about our contribution in the world.
      Richard Hilken, 1992; 1993


23.24 It is the sense of this meeting, that the importing of negroes from
      their native country and relations by Friends, is not a commendable
      nor allowed practice, and is therefore censured by this meeting.

      Yearly Meeting in London, 1727

23.25 By 1772 the Yearly Meeting's concern had extended to the holding of slaves by
      It appears that the practice of holding negroes in oppressive and
      unnatural bondage hath been so successfully discouraged by Friends
      in some of the colonies as to be considerably lessened. We cannot
      but approve of these salutary endeavours, and earnestly intreat they
      may be continued, that, through the favour of Divine Providence, a
      traffic so unmerciful and unjust in its nature to a part of our own
      species made equally with ourselves for immortality may come to be
      considered by all in its proper light, and be utterly abolished, as a
      reproach to the Christian profession.
      John Woolman was present at this Yearly Meeting. The experience which, sixteen
      years earlier, had led to his concern in this matter is described in 20.46

23.26 Yearly Meeting 1822 accepted 'An address to the inhabitants of Europe on the
      Iniquities of the slave trade, issued by the Religious Society of Friends':
      The arguments of the Christian, like the religion from which they are
      derived, are plain and simple, but they are in themselves invincible.
      The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is a system of peace, of love, of
      mercy, and of good-will. The slave trade is a system of fraud and
      rapine, of violence and cruelty... That which is morally wrong cannot
      be politically right.

23.27 It has probably come as a shock to many Friends to learn that slavery
      still exists in many parts of the world, either in its usually understood
      form or as forced labour which is akin to slavery... The prime need,
      as a preliminary action, is the gathering together of accurate
      information on all aspects of this important problem... Though the
      powers of the British Government to deal with potential slavery or
      slave trading are now much more circumscribed, we would
      encourage any efforts they are able to make through international
      channels to bring to an end this deplorable traffic in the lives of
      members of the world family.

      London Yearly Meeting, 1958

23.28 Quakers gradually led the way in the great reform which has now
      been largely achieved. A legal judgment of 1772 declared that if
      slaves arrived in England they became free. These pioneers against
      slavery were heretics, outside the normal confines of our great
      religious institutions, but what a debt we and the churches owe to
      these heretics who, nevertheless, liberated the spiritual wind which
      sent them forward to explore territories beyond the limited horizon
      of their age.
      We are involved in an intense perpetual struggle within the mind of
      man. If wars begin in the mind of men, so does slavery. When I was
      in the Yemen some four or five years ago, before the present [1962-
      67] civil war began and before Egypt sent some 70,000 troops into
      that country, I talked at some length with the late Imam, the Crown
      Prince and others about the slavery I knew existed there, and I
      myself saw in the early morning the old women sweeping the streets
      and was told that they were slaves. I glanced up at the edifice at the
      top of the hill wherein there were scores of boys kept as hostages by
      the Imam. Again, a form of slavery.
      When I was some years ago in Northern Nigeria I knew that those
      who could do so maintained harems, which surely is another form of
      slavery. When I read letters from time to time from a friend in South
      Africa who now finds every excuse for the permanent subjugation of
      black South Africans, I know that her mind is essentially still
      subscribing to slavery. When in South Carolina I talked to a Baptist
      deacon and he stated that all would be peaceful in his part of
      America were it not for 'darned agitators', I knew again that he was
      virtually, although a Christian, endorsing a form of slavery. Further,
      when we all remember the repression of human liberty in certain
      European states, then we know that the Anti-Slavery Society and its
      purpose, which is defined as the protection of human rights, has only
      partially fulfilled its mission...
      [There] are indications of real advances. Let us take courage and
      inspiration from them, but let us also appreciate how much still has
      to be done.

      Reginald Sorensen, 1966

23.29 In the 1970s children could still be found picking crops in pesticide-
      soaked fields of the USA, labouring on building sites in Mexico, in
      sweat-shops in the East End of London, being injured in factory
      accidents in Italy, making carpets in Turkey, assembling plastic toys
      in Hong Kong, labouring as unofficial sub-employees in Indian
      factories, and working in agriculture almost everywhere. Even the
      nineteenth-century chimney boy has his twentieth-century equivalent
      - boys employed on Saturdays to crawl through and clean factory air
      The attitudes which have perpetuated child labour are likely to
      remain a fundamental problem; attitudes which treat particular
      groups, such as women and children, as subservient and expendable
      and which respond with violence even to non-violent movements
      towards reform... The all too frequent cruel exploitation of child
      labour is a scandal. It is doubly a scandal when it co-exists with
      massive adult unemployment. What is needed now is a concerted
      effort to launch a wide-ranging programme of reform.

      James Challis, 1979


      In 1961 Amnesty International was established on the initiative of a small
      group, which included a Quaker, Eric Baker, to take up the cause of prisoners of
      conscience: men and women imprisoned for their religious, political or other beliefs
      or opinions, who had not used or advocated the use of violence. It became
      increasingly evident that many such prisoners were being subjected to torture. In
      1974, in Documents in advance and at Yearly Meeting, Eric Baker introduced a
      session on the subject, which was subsequently selected for special study at the
      Friends World Committee for Consultation Triennial meeting in 1976.

23.30 Can torture ever be justified? Once chattel slavery was considered an
      economic and social necessity; nevertheless it has now been
      abolished in most regions of the world. This has happened at least in
      part because of the revulsion which this offence to human dignity
      aroused. Should not torture arouse the same revulsion?
      Torture is not just a sporadic occurrence in this country or that, but a
      moral contagion which has spread throughout the world, even to
      governments which have been proud of their record of civilised
      behaviour. Torture is not only systematic physical ill-treatment but
      may also involve the misuse of psychology and other sciences and
      Is this evil one that will arouse us to action as our Society was once
      aroused by the evil of slavery?

      London Yearly Meeting, 1974

23.31 It is a matter of grave anxiety that torture and secret imprisonment
      are being used by many governments, anti-government groups and
      others to extract information, to suppress criticism, and to intimidate
      opposition, so that throughout the world countless numbers of men,
      women and children are suffering inhuman treatment. We believe in
      the worth of every individual as a child of God, and that no
      circumstances whatsoever can justify practices intended to break
      bodies, minds and spirits.
      Both tortured and torturer are victims of the evil from which no
      human being is immune. Friends, however, believe that the life and
      power of God are greater than evil, and in that life and power declare
      their opposition to all torture. The Society calls on all its members, as
      well as those of all religious and other organisations, to create a force
      of public opinion which will oblige those responsible to dismantle
      everywhere the administrative apparatus which permits or encourages
      torture, and to observe effectively those international agreements
      under which its use is strictly forbidden.
      Friends World Committee for Consultation, 1976

    Discrimination and disadvantage

23.32 I have never lost the enjoyment of sitting in silence at the beginning
      of meeting, knowing that everything can happen, knowing the joy of
      utmost surprise; feeling that nothing is pre-ordained, nothing is set,
      all is open. The light can come from all sides. The joy of experiencing
      the Light in a completely different way than one has thought it would
      come is one of the greatest gifts that Friends' meeting for worship
      has brought me.
      I believe that meeting for worship has brought the same awareness to
      all who have seen and understood the message that everyone is equal
      in the sight of God, that everybody has the capacity to be the vessel
      of God's word. There is nothing that age, experience and status can
      do to prejudge where and how the Light will appear. This awareness
      - the religious equality of each and every one - is central to Friends.
      Early Friends understood this and at the same time they fully
      accepted the inseparable unity of life, and spoke against the setting
      apart of the secular and the sacred. It was thus inevitable that
      religious equality would be translated into the equality of everyday
      social behaviour. Friends' testimony to plain speech and plain dress
      was both a testimony of religious equality and a testimony of the
      unacceptability of all other forms of inequality.

      Ursula Franklin, 1979

23.33 Guided by the Light of God within us and recognising that of God
      in others, we can all learn to value our differences in age, sex,
      physique, race and culture. This enables mutual respect and self-
      respect to develop, and it becomes possible for everyone to love one
      another as God loves us. Throughout our lives, we see ourselves
      reflected in the facial expressions, verbal comments and body-
      language of others. We have a responsibility to protect each other's
      Because of their commitment to social concerns, some Quakers may
      find it inconceivable that they may lack understanding of issues
      involving racism. Jesus stressed the unique nature and worth of each
      individual. It is unreasonable to expect assimilation or to ignore
      difference, claiming to treat everyone the same. This denies the value
      of variety, which presents not a problem, but a creative challenge to
      live adventurously.
      Personality, sex, race, culture and experience are God's gifts. We
      need one another and differences shared become enrichments, not
      reasons to be afraid, to dominate or condemn. The media have
      increased our knowledge of the world, but we need greater self-
      awareness if our actions are to be changed in relation to the
      information we receive. We need to consider our behaviour carefully,
      heeding the command of Jesus that we should love our neighbours as
      we love ourselves.

      Meg Maslin, 1990

23.34 Testimony concerning Dorothy Case (1901-1978):
      In the mid-50s, West Indians started coming to this country in great
      numbers, and Dorothy had more and more of their small children in
      her nursery. With two Friends from Streatham Meeting, Dorothy
      joined a Racial Brotherhood Association started by the Mayor of
      Lambeth and a West Indian Brixton resident. The Association could
      not find premises suitable for a community centre, largely because of
      colour prejudice, and, when the Mayor left the district, the once
      flourishing association nearly collapsed. But largely through the
      determination of Dorothy and the two Streatham Friends, it was
      revived, Dorothy agreeing to become secretary. To find premises was
      always the problem and in 1958 Dorothy wrote: 'Last year I felt that
      if we didn't function somehow, we'd had it, and as I'm keen on
      cricket, I booked a pitch on the Common and collected a few of the
      West Indian fathers of babies at my nursery, and their friends. It
      surpassed all our expectations and we had a wonderful season.' When
      winter came, although they only had two small basement rooms, they
      functioned as best they could as a true community centre. At this
      time Dorothy had helpful contacts with the International Centre and
      with Friends Race Relations Committee of which she was a member
      from 1964-1974, sharing her particular concerns for the West Indian
      community in Lambeth with it and, as race relations correspondent,
      with her meeting. A former member of Westminster Meeting recalls
      that Dorothy was a source of inspiration to her West Indian
      neighbours, standing by them in difficult situations, and offering
      them encouragement at all times.

      Purley & Sutton Monthly Meeting, 1978

23.35 This year's Junior Yearly Meeting has made us hope that the
      concentrated love we have experienced could be spread over the
      world; but it has also alerted us to the harsh realities of racism.
      We recognise that racism is more complex than simply black and
      white - it is part of a wider problem of prejudice involving sexism
      and religious bigotry. In this context, we were particularly alerted to
      the situation in Northern Ireland which, like racism, exhibits
      institutional and [personal] prejudice.
      We urge Friends throughout the world to examine their
      responsibilities in this light.

      Epistle from Junior Yearly Meeting, 1988

23.36 At the centre of Friends' religious experience is the repeatedly and
      consistently expressed belief in the fundamental equality of all
      members of the human race. Our common humanity transcends our
      differences. Friends have worked individually and corporately to give
      expression to this belief. We aspire not to say or do anything or
      condone any statements or actions which imply lack of respect for
      the humanity of any person. We try to free ourselves from
      assumptions of superiority and from racial prejudice.
      We must constantly ask ourselves whether we are living up to these
      ideals, not only in international relations but also in our individual
      and corporate relationships within Britain - which has become and
      will remain multiracial and multicultural. To liberate ourselves from
      pervasive attitudes and practices of our time and social environment
      requires new perceptions and hard work.
      There is incontrovertible evidence that people who belong to ethnic
      minority groups, especially those who are readily identifiable by their
      appearance, are subject to a variety of disadvantages. They face more
      obstacles than others, first, in gaining education commensurate with
      their abilities, and then in securing employment which reflects their
      qualifications. They are less likely to be promoted, and often earn less
      than others with similar abilities. As a result of legislation passed by
      both Labour and Conservative governments which restricts the right
      to live and work in Britain, people from ethnic minorities may be
      asked to justify their claim to equal rights by anyone in authority at
      any time. In addition to discrimination, intended or unintended, by
      employers and by the law, our fellow-citizens are often subjected to
      abuse, harassment and violence.
      The Religious Society of Friends has a duty to play its part in ending
      these abuses. Being aware of injustice and doing little about it
      condones that injustice. Friends kept slaves until John Woolman
      persuaded them that it was wrong to do so. Should we not ask
      ourselves if we are in a parallel situation today?
      Discrimination also takes more subtle forms. It may occur, and
      feelings may be hurt, by unthinking assumptions and lack of
      sensitivity. Being a Friend does not confer automatic protection
      against this, either as giver or receiver. In our dealings with members
      of minority groups in our daily lives and also within the Religious
      Society of Friends we may sometimes be less thoughtful and sensitive
      than we should be.
      Meeting for Sufferings' Statement of Intent on Racism, 1988
      The use of language in the passage above gives the mistaken impression that in
      1988 all Friends in Britain were white. By 1994 we were aware that such usage
      was exclusive and were committed to inclusive expression, based on respect and
      celebration of diversity among Friends in Britain.

23.37 Having a severe disability in my experience meant almost total
      isolation from my peers during my teens and early twenties. I could
      not talk with them or go out with them and this had a drastic effect
      on my confidence and self-respect. I suffered agonies of repressed
      sexual longing.
      I was lucky. I had the means to recover unavailable to great numbers
      of young disabled people. As I found vehicles I could drive my
      contacts widened and I could exercise my freedom, responsibility and
      keen intelligence but it took long years of learning to catch up on
      normal life...
      In some circles it is quite impossible for me to get an honest opinion
      about what I think and do. Any trivial achievement is regarded with
      awe and anything approaching normality is quite inconceivable. If I
      committed some frightful social blunder, they would nod their heads
      and make irrelevant excuses for me.
      Enough of such things. You soon 'forget' them; but deep within you
      burns a clear impression of profound inferiority; of unacceptability;
      of a need to apologise for even being the miserable wretch that you
      are and for needing that minimum of help you dare to require. When
      all this is added to a very real and terrifying social immaturity, where
      can you begin to hope? ...
      Many people, much less disabled than me, accept the role society
      imposes, hating themselves and their handicaps, hating to ask for
      help, hating friendly curiosity and concern, hating to admit to what
      they feel they are.
      All this is a terrible indictment of society but it is not an indictment
      of the individual. Each of them, including myself, is only echoing the
      fear and hurt about disability and about their own minds and bodies
      that they received when they were young. Young children, left alone,
      will look, enquire, accept, and sometimes even care, without
      Everyone must learn to be glad of what they really are and must feel
      able to ask for the necessary help to fulfil themselves. We are all in
      this together, handicapped or not. We all need help to be ourselves.

      Jonathan Griffith, 1981

23.38 Carol Gardiner has lived with multiple sclerosis for many years. In 1989 she
      wrote about her realisation that she did not have enough reserves of spiritual and
      physical energy at that time to go to a residential Yearly Meeting, and so it was
      not accessible to her.
      Our Religious Society includes a considerable number of people who
      to some degree live with disabilities, and we generally present quite a
      good record of considering their needs and attempting to cater for
      them - a consideration born of our conviction that there is 'that of
      God' in every person. But we should ask ourselves continually if this
      consideration is being maintained and whether it goes far enough. If
      we really mean that there is that of God in everyone, then it behoves
      us to look with creative, loving imagination at the condition of every
      human being. This includes listening to what they say, and the words
      they choose to say it, and also listening for what they do not or
      cannot say. It does not mean listening to what someone else says
      supposedly on their behalf.

23.39 Too long have wrongs and oppression existed without an
      acknowledged wrongdoer and oppressor. It was not until the slave
      holder was told 'Thou art the man' that a healthy agitation was
      brought about. Woman is told the fault is in herself, in too willingly
      submitting to her inferior condition, but like the slave, she is pressed
      down by laws in the making of which she has no voice, and crushed
      by customs which have grown out of such laws. She cannot rise
      therefore, while thus trampled in the dust. The oppressor does not
      see himself in that light until the oppressed cry for deliverance.

      Lucretia Mott, 1852

23.40 We have been reminded vividly that women live under cultural,
      political, and economic oppression. All humanity is lessened by it; we
      are unwilling to tolerate its perpetuation, and must continue to work
      for justice and peace in the world...
      We hope that we will act as leaven in our local meetings, churches,
      and yearly meetings, so that Quaker women everywhere will be
      encouraged by our new understanding. As we grow in solidarity with
      one another, enriched by how we express our faith, we will all be
      enabled to surmount the cultural economic and political barriers that
      prevent us from discerning and following the ways in which God
      leads us. We honour the lives of our Quaker foremothers as patterns
      which help us recognise our own leadings. Their commitment,
      dedication, and courage remain as worthy standards. May our lives be
      used as theirs were to give leadership to women everywhere to be
      vehicles of the love of God. We share a deep love for all creation,
      and cry with the pain of its desecration. We must realise we are part
      of the natural world and examine our lives in order to change those
      attitudes which lead to domination and exploitation.
      Friends, we are called into wholeness and into community, women
      and men alike, sharing the responsibilities God has given us, and
      assuming the leadership we are called to. We begin where we are, in
      our homes and meetings or churches, our work and communities,
      celebrating the realisation of the New Creation.
      Epistle of the First International Theological Conference of Quaker
      Women, 1990

23.41 The oppression of the working-classes by existing monopolies, and
      the lowness of wages, often engaged my attention; and I have held
      many meetings with them, and heard their appeals with compassion,
      and a great desire for a radical change in the system which makes the
      rich richer and the poor poorer. The various associations and
      communities tending to greater equality of condition have had from
      me a hearty God-speed. But the millions of down-trodden slaves in
      our land being the greatest sufferers, the most oppressed class, I have
      felt bound to plead their cause, in season and out of season, to
      endeavor to put my soul in their souls' stead, and to aid, all in my
      power, in every right effort for their immediate emancipation. This
      duty was impressed upon me at the time I consecrated myself to that
      gospel which anoints 'to preach deliverance to the captive', 'to set at
      liberty them that are bruised.' From that time the duty of abstinence
      so far as practicable from slave-grown products was so clear, that I
      resolved to make the effort 'to provide things honest' in this respect.
      Since then our family has been supplied with free-labor groceries
      and, to some extent, with cotton goods untainted by slavery.
      In 1840, a World's Anti-slavery Convention was called in London.
      Women from Boston, New York and Philadelphia were delegates to
      that convention. I was one of the number; but, on our arrival in
      England, our credentials were not accepted because we were women.
      We were, however, treated with great courtesy and attention, as
      strangers, and as women, were admitted to chosen seats as spectators
      and listeners, while our right of membership was denied - we were
      voted out. This brought the Woman question more into view, and an
      increase of interest in the subject has been the result. In this work,
      too, I have engaged heart and hand, as my labors, travels, and public
      discourses evince. The misrepresentation, ridicule, and abuse heaped
      upon this as well as other reforms do not, in the least, deter me from
      my duty. To those whose name is cast out as evil for the truth's sake,
      it is a small thing to be judged of man's judgment.

      Lucretia Mott

23.42 I am still concerned that there are not many women exercising
      leadership in government, industry and education... However, this is
      not a straightforward issue for me. I want to see women fully
      represented at all levels of society, and yet I share the misgivings that
      many feminists have for the hierarchical way in which leadership is
      traditionally exercised.
      The Society of Friends seems a good place to explore this dilemma
      since it has, since the early days, attempted a more truly democratic
      and participative way of working than has been customary in society
      at large. This was one of the factors that first attracted me to Friends,
      as it seems to be an expression of the recognition that we are all
      equal in our shared humanity. Sexism does violence to this important
      insight, as it does to individuals of either sex who are seeking to find
      themselves and express themselves in the world...
      I am not saying that the oppressive effects of sexism are never felt
      within the Society of Friends, for we are all members of the wider
      society and affected by its attitudes. There are Friends who think that
      catering should be the preserve of women and that matters of
      finance are best understood by men. There have been times within
      Friends' circles when I have felt hurt by these attitudes, as I have no
      doubt unwittingly wounded others. But I have found the Society's
      commitment to truth an encouragement and challenge to my own
      strivings for integrity, and I give thanks for that.

      Pauline Leader, 1986

       Social justice

23.43 As male and female are made one in Jesus Christ, so women receive
      an office in the Truth as well as men, and they have a stewardship
      and must give an account of their stewardship as well as the men...

      Elizabeth Bathurst, 1685

23.44 The language in which we express what we ... say is of vital
      importance; it both shapes and reflects our values. One result of the
      emphasis on plain speech by early Friends was to challenge the class
      hierarchy of the day. The emphasis on non-sexist language by
      present-day feminists is likewise a challenge to hierarchy, in this case
      the sex hierarchy, which women have brought into the Light by
      naming it - patriarchy... Our Quaker tradition enables us to recognise
      that our choice of language, and our reaction to the choice that
      others make, reveals values which may otherwise stay hidden.
      Having in mind that much Christian teaching and language has been
      used to subordinate women to men, bear witness to our experience
      that we are all one in the Spirit and value the special characteristics of
      each individual. Remember that the Spirit of God includes and
      transcends our ideas of male and female, and that we should reflect
      this insight in our lives and through our ministry.
      Are you working, in all aspects of your life, towards a better
      understanding of the need for a different balance between the sexes
      in their contribution to our society? Do you recognise the limitations
      which are placed on women and men by assigning roles to them
      according to gender, and do you attempt to respond instead to the
      needs and capacities of the individual? Do you recognise and
      encourage the many ways in which human love may be expressed?

      Quaker Women's Group, 1982; 1986

23.45 All of us [Young Friends for Lesbian and Gay Concerns] have
      suffered discrimination or isolation because of our sexuality. We are
      all both angry and sad about the discrimination we face in everyday
      life, whether it consists of being unable to talk to work colleagues
      about a partner, or having to hide our sexuality in order to keep a
      job. The consequences of such necessary dishonesty can be very
      destructive both personally and for society.

      Tessa Fairweather, 1993

23.46 I have been greatly exercised for some time by the image we like to
      present of ourselves (albeit with beating of breasts) as a white,
      middle-class, well-educated group of heterosexual people, preferably
      in stable marriages with children that behave in socially acceptable
      ways. I do feel that this is a myth. The danger of such myths is that
      we exclude many potential Quakers who feel they cannot/do not live
      up to the image or who feel that such a group is not one with which
      they wish to be associated. Sadly, many of us within the Society who
      do not fit in feel marginalised and second-class.
      Another effect is that many problems faced by a large proportion of
      people are seen as separate: people who are poor, facing oppression,
      living in poor housing, experiencing prejudice are the 'others'. This
      enables us to be very caring but distant (and sometimes patronising)
      and also makes it difficult to be conscious of prejudice behind some
      of the normally accepted assumptions of our society/Society, such as
      that people who are unemployed are a different group from those
      who have employment; that poor people are poor ... because they are
      not as bright or as able as the rest of us or because their limited
      homes did not give them the opportunities that a good Quaker home
      would have done; that children living in single-parent families are
      automatically deprived by that very fact.
      Until we as a Religious Society begin to question our assumptions,
      until we look at the prejudices, often very deeply hidden, within our
      own Society, how are we going to be able to confront the inequalities
      within the wider society? We are very good at feeling bad about
      injustice, we put a lot of energy into sticking-plaster activity (which
      obviously has to be done), but we are not having any effect in
      challenging the causes of inequality and oppression. I do sometimes
      wonder if this is because we are not able to do this within and among

      Susan Rooke-Matthews, 1993
      See also 10.13, 23.2, & 29.15


23.47 Compassion, to be effective, requires detailed knowledge and
      understanding of how society works. Any social system in turn
      requires men and women in it of imagination and goodwill. What
      would be fatal would be for those with exceptional human insight
      and concern to concentrate on ministering to individuals, whilst
      those accepting responsibility for the design and management of
      organisations were left to become technocrats. What is important is
      that institutions and their administration be constantly tested against
      human values, and that those who are concerned about these values
      be prepared to grapple with the complex realities of modern society
      as it is.

      Grigor McClelland, 1976

23.48 God comes to us in the midst of human need, and the most pressing
      needs of our time demand community in response. How can I
      participate in a fairer distribution of resources unless I live in a
      community which makes it possible to consume less? How can I
      learn accountability unless I live in a community where my acts and
      their consequences are visible to all? How can I learn to share power
      unless I live in a community where hierarchy is unnatural? How can
      I take the risks which right action demands unless I belong to a
      community which gives support? How can I learn the sanctity of
      each life unless I live in a community where we can be persons not
      roles to one another?

      Parker J Palmer, 1977

23.49 Many of us live in the more prosperous areas of large cities, or within
      commuting distance of them. The accumulated decisions we make,
      together with the accumulated decisions of all our neighbours, help
      to determine what life is like for the people who live in the inner
      areas of those cities, and in the large isolated housing estates on their
      edges. Decisions about where to live, what forms of transport to use,
      where to spend money, where to send children to school, where to
      work, whom to employ, where to obtain health services, what to
      condone, what to protest about, business decisions, personal
      decisions, political decisions - all these have an effect. Our first and
      greatest responsibility is to make those decisions in the knowledge of
      their effect on others.
      Nationally we have to face up to the fact that deprived areas are
      distinguished as much by personal as by collective poverty, and that
      the only way to tackle personal poverty is to let people have more
      money. More money for some inevitably means less for others. Are
      we willing to press for this?

      Martin Wyatt, 1986

23.50 How can the people of Ordsall, where I work, become our
      neighbours, our sisters and our brothers, especially when we do not
      know them personally? It is only through prayer and political action
      that we can affirm our love and demonstrate in the flesh that we do
      see that of God within them...
      We have a variety of strategies for passing by on the other side: we
      manage not to know about such things, by living elsewhere and
      averting our eyes and hearts from information which might trouble
      us; some of us imagine that Biblical morality only enjoins us to direct
      personal charity towards those we encounter, having nothing to do
      with justice, with political action to change unjust structures. (A
      strange love this, which would shelter a Jew but ignore the struggle to
      prevent the rise of Nazism.) More often we claim that whilst in
      principle love does also require us to work for the removal of the
      causes of injustice, such work is in practice so complex that Friends
      cannot become involved corporately; it should be left to Friends
      individually as they think fit...
      Complexity, however, may depend on whether we are the well-fed or
      the hungry. Our delicate refusal to dirty our hands in political turmoil
      may itself be another way of passing by on the other side. Change
      seems most complicated and controversial to those who do not
      personally need it. Would we be so delicate if we were Black South
      Africans? But surely, you may say, we don't face such fundamental
      No, we don't. And yet - come and meet the people in Ordsall with
      me. You will sense inequality tangibly; you will become aware of the
      huge range of opportunities which you have and they do not; you will
      understand the struggle to make ends meet, the problems of debt, ill-
      health, premature ageing and death, and the hopelessness which is
      the experience of many. The answers may not be simple: the
      bureaucratic welfare state did also create some of the problems. But
      to see the unbridled pursuit of individual self-interest as a solution is
      grotesque as well as immoral.

      Jonathan Dale, 1987

23.51 Testimony concerning Stephen Henry Hobhouse (1881-1961):
      He soon ceased to attend church services and resigned from the
      University Rifle Corps on pacifist grounds. He also resolved never to
      accept the position in the world to which he was the heir, that of a
      wealthy landowner and country squire...
      Although from childhood far from strong in health, Stephen
      Hobhouse was again and again led to take a difficult course required
      of him by his conviction of divine leading, whatever the cost to
      himself... Disturbed by the contrast between the luxurious comfort
      which he sometimes experienced in visiting the homes of wealthy
      Friends, and the hard lives of ordinary working people in those days
      (fifty years ago) he took a small flat in a block of workers' dwellings
      in a poor part of London because he felt that his discipleship of Jesus
      called him to share their life as much as he could, and also to open
      the eyes of his comfortable friends to the way in which the great
      majority of people had to live.

      Hertford & Hitchin Monthly Meeting, 1961
      See also 18.13 (concerning Mary Hughes) & 24.52 (concerning Douglas Smith)

23.52 I think I have wasted a great deal of my life waiting to be called to
      some great mission which would change the world. I have looked for
      important social movements. I have wanted to make a big and
      important contribution to the causes I believe in. I think I have been
      too ready to reject the genuine leadings I have been given as being
      matters of little consequence. It has taken me a long time to learn
      that obedience means doing what we are called to do even if it seems
      pointless or unimportant or even silly. The great social movements of
      our time may well be part of our calling. The ideals of peace and
      justice and equality which are part of our religious tradition are often
      the focus of debate. But we cannot simply immerse ourselves in
      these activities. We need to develop our own unique social witness, in
      obedience to God. We need to listen to the gentle whispers which
      will tell us how we can bring our lives into greater harmony with

      Deborah Haines, 1978

     Work and economic affairs

23.53 It was once possible to argue that economic affairs might, like total
      abstinence, slavery or spiritual healing, be a field of particular interest
      to groups of Friends. We can now see that the economic order is not
      a peripheral concern, but central to the whole relationship between
      faith and practice. This is not a claim that, say, the interest in peace
      and international relations ought now to take a secondary place in
      our thoughts and prayers. Still less is it a demand that the Society
      should cease to be first and foremost a religious body, or to say that
      it should in any way neglect its spiritual foundations in favour of
      more good citizenship. It is rather that economic affairs are now so
      central to our whole existence that no other aspect of personal
      relationships or individual life-styles can now be looked at without
      first understanding what it means in terms of our national wealth,
      incomes, and their distribution.

      David Eversley, 1976
      See also 24.50-24.52

23.54 Part of understanding life and one's place in life is to form a 'right'
      relationship with things. The philosophy of the industrial revolution
      is to 'direct the forces of nature for the use of man' (following the
      words of the charter given to the engineering profession in 1821).
      Now, to seek mastery is not to gain a 'right' relationship. The latter
      requires sensitivity and yields wisdom along with an adequacy of
      power. The search for mastery alone yields a power that corrupts
      faster than it is mastered.

      Jim Platts, 1976

23.55 When I was a teenager and beginning to think about a career, my
      father advised me to choose between working with people and
      working with things, and I sensed an implied judgment that working
      with people was more worthy.
      In the event, the decision was made for me when I married a self-
      employed engineer with no interest in the record-keeping side of his
      business. We now work very happily together from home, designing
      and supplying special purpose machinery to the brush industry. We
      deliberately keep our business small and more or less manageable.
      We are not interested in the financial dealings, stocks and shares,
      investments and take-overs which the press seems to regard as the
      essence of business.
      I see the basis of industry as being a global network of barter, a
      mutual dependency, a contract of trust for the supply of the
      necessities and luxuries of life. The opportunities of industry are as
      large as the needs of the world's people. Every object we use has to
      be designed, manufactured and sold by someone. It is an honourable
      occupation to apply one's talents to the marketplace. One person's
      need becomes another's opportunity, his livelihood, his dignity.
      'Working with things' is not devoid of scope for a spiritual attitude...
      Perhaps a function of industry is to reflect that of God that is
      creation and glory. We can be creative in our small way in God's
      image; we can work in partnership with God, combining natural and
      human resources; we can extract order from chaos.

      Rachel Jackson, 1990

23.56 Employers today, more and more, are demanding total commitment
      from their employees, often to the detriment of the employees'
      health and ability to participate in family and community life. People
      are facing decisions about giving all their energy to their company
      and having nothing left for themselves or anyone else. Some have the
      courage to opt for a more balanced approach to life and work, where
      paid employment has an important place, but also allowing sufficient
      leisure time to be an active parent, to enrich family and community
      relationships and replenish their own spiritual reserves. I hope that
      meetings will support those who make such decisions and help them
      in any adjustments to their life that they have to make.

      Jane Stokes, 1992

23.57 In the aftermath of the Second World War, Quakers began experimenting with
      democratic forms of economic enterprise. The best known case is probably Scott
      Bader, a synthetic resin and polymer manufacturing company in Wollaston,
      Northamptonshire. The original company was founded in 1920 and organised
      along orthodox lines of corporate authority by Ernest Bader, who joined the
      Society of Friends in 1943. During the 1940s he and his family decided to re-
      organise his firm upon stewardship principles. In 1951 he and his co-founders
      gave 90% of their shares to the Scott Bader Commonwealth, a company limited
      by guarantee and a registered charity, inviting employees to become members; in
      1963 they gave the remaining 10% of their shares to the Commonwealth.
      Power should come from within the person and the community, and
      be made responsible to those it affects. The ultimate criteria in the
      organisation of work should be human dignity and service to others
      instead of solely economic performance. We feel mutual
      responsibility must permeate the whole community of work and be
      upheld by democratic participation and the principle of trusteeship.
      Common-ownership of our means of production, and a voice in the
      distribution of earned surplus and the allocation of new capital, has
      helped in our struggle towards achieving these aims.
      The Commonwealth has responsibilities to the wider national and
      international community and is endeavouring to fulfil them by
      fostering a movement towards a new peaceful industrial and social
      order. To be a genuine alternative to welfare capitalism and state-
      controlled communism, such an order must be non-violent in the
      sense of promoting love and justice, for where love stops, power
      begins and intimidation and violence follow. One of the main
      requirements of a peaceful social order is, we are convinced, an
      organisation of work based on the principles outlined here, a sharing
      of the fruits of our labours with those less fortunate instead of
      working only for our own private security, and a refusal to support
      destructive social conflict or to take part in preparations for war.

      Scott Bader Corporate Constitution, 1963

23.58 Testimony concerning Arthur Basil Reynolds (1903-1960):
      Arthur Basil Reynolds ... had that strong sense of the indwelling spirit
      of God which perforce claimed kinship with everything good and of
      enduring value in other men and in the world at large. He worked for
      the continuity of the good life; and to preserve what was good from
      the past, to hold fast and perpetuate what was good in the present
      and to work for the hope of good in the future. He was a man of
      creative imagination, a craftsman with vision and courage who
      delighted in the work of his hands and was able to inspire others with
      the same spirit. He had the seeing eye and the unerring hand to
      translate the vision into actuality. As he walked the countryside a twig
      in the hedge would suggest a shape of grace and gaiety and his
      penknife would speedily produce a dancing figure of elfish beauty.
      All that he touched witnessed to this creative power.
      His training as a cabinet-maker was put to use in the workshops at
      Brynmawr during the unemployment and distress of the depression,
      when he worked with Friends and others to provide employment and
      thus to bring renewed hope and self-respect to the mining
      community. He became manager of the Brynmawr Furniture Makers,
      an undertaking that successfully produced worthy and beautiful

      Hereford & Radnor Monthly Meeting, 1961

23.59 Testimony concerning Percy Cleave (1880-1958):
      By occupation he was a barber, and on moving into this district in
      1937 from Swindon, he first took a shop in Wallington, and later one
      in a poor part of Croydon. Not all who went there did so for a shave
      or a haircut, but to enjoy its friendly atmosphere, and to talk to
      Percy. 'I am sure,' said a friend of his, 'that as Percy rubbed oil into a
      customer's hair, he blessed him.' This would have been natural, since
      he desired all his actions to be sacramental. He was very positive in
      his relationships with others, and took a lively interest in all their
      doings... He was a man whom adversity had refined. It was often
      surprising when talking to him, to hear of the multitudes of troubles
      he and his wife had borne. He had accepted the changes and chances
      of this life, but had not forgotten them, and so could sympathise with
      those who were still struggling. He had great insight, and was able to
      see to the heart of a problem. Since he was in a small way of business
      which barely brought in sufficient money, he had a hard time which
      persisted until his retirement, when he sought so to arrange his life,
      that others could speak to him at leisure and without hurry. It was
      then that he ministered to some families of Friends by going to their
      homes and cutting their hair. It was pleasant to see him starting on
      the littlest ones and proceed in order to the adults. To have Percy cut
      your hair was a grace.

      Kingston Monthly Meeting, 1958

23.60 Testimony concerning Joan Frances Layton (1908-1990):
      Her early education was unconventional and irregular. Nevertheless,
      she obtained a place at Bedford College, where she read English,
      French, Latin and Spanish. These stood her in good stead when she
      started work as a secretary in Covent Garden market. She then
      obtained a post in the City but, unable to reconcile her work there
      with her beliefs, she returned to the market amongst 'real people'
      whose admiration and respect she won, and remained with them for
      the rest of her working life.

      Southampton & Portsmouth Monthly Meeting, 1990

23.61 It remains to speak of the Way of Service, as it concerns the conduct
      of our ordinary work and business. Nowhere is the practical working
      of our faith put to a severer test, yet nowhere is there a nobler and
      more fruitful witness to be borne. Business in its essence is no mere
      selfish struggle for the necessities and luxuries of life, but 'a vast and
      complex movement of social service'. However some may abuse its
      methods for private ends, its true function is not to rob the
      community but to serve it. But, in the fierce competition which is so
      marked a feature of the present day, it has become very difficult,
      some would say impossible, for those engaged in business to be
      wholly faithful to Christ. Christianity is challenged in the shop and in
      the office.
      We have been touched with keen sympathy for our friends, whether
      employers or employed, who find themselves in this strait. We
      cannot here deal fully with this question, but we are sure there is an
      answer to the challenge, and that the light which shines upon the
      Way of Life, and gives us the distinction of things inwardly, will guide
      us to the answer...
      Christianity is tested, not only in the shop and in the office, but also
      in the home. In the standard of living adopted by the home-makers,
      in the portion of income devoted to comforts, recreations and
      luxuries, in willingness to be content with simplicity, the members of
      a household, both older and younger, may bear witness that there is a
      Way of Life that does not depend on the abundance of the things

      London Yearly Meeting, 1911

23.62 The attempt to identify and apply Christian values in practice is a
      struggle laid upon each generation. As new knowledge, new methods,
      new technologies arise, so is the condition for the operation of
      conscience altered and advanced.
      To list the attributes of Christian quality would be to repeat much of
      the Sermon on the Mount. They can be summed up as personal
      integrity combined with compassion. Such quality can shine out in
      the work situation as in the social and religious life... It is
      characterised by the refusal to put up with the second best; a capacity
      to take infinite pains with other people; especially is it shown in the
      constant effort to seek higher standards beyond the traditional
      practices or those provided for in regulations.

      Edward W Fox, 1969

23.63 One of the aspects of parenthood which I enjoy most is putting my
      mind to trying to solve all sorts of problems. I get a big thrill out of
      designing gadgets which will make life a little more comfortable. I
      love to get to work on a thoroughly neglected garden or room and
      put it right again. I find great satisfaction in being consulted about
      other people's problems and helping to sort them out. I have come
      to the conclusion, therefore, that this is the area in which I shall both
      find my main direction and satisfy my needs to be creative, practical
      and supportive. If, rather than concentrating on one particular job or
      career, I apply myself to tackling the many problems that come my
      way, I am sure that my life will be more than adequately filled with
      work that I 'most need to do and the world most needs to have
      done'. Thus I shall have found my vocation or mission. It will not
      mean that all the problems will get solved, of course, or that those
      which do will be solved satisfactorily every time, but I am sure that it
      will mean that my relationships with other people will improve and
      that both the giving and the taking of love will come easier to me.

      Helen Edwards, 1992

23.64 There is much work to be done which is not paid, but which is vital,
      desperately undervalued and undertaken to a large extent by women.
      I refer, of course, to caring for children and/or elderly disabled
      relatives and homemaking. The work itself is often hard, stressful,
      mundane and repetitive, unseen and unacknowledged, with low
      status. We need a transformation of our attitudes to this work, giving
      it all the esteem it deserves. Experience of running a household
      teaches innumerable management skills, but these skills are often not
      perceived by employers as useful to them. Self-image is extremely
      poor in this group, not because they do not make a contribution but
      because their contribution is not appreciated.
      Another reason for the low self-image of this group is one of the
      primary indicators of status in our society - income. Caring for a
      family is unpaid and therefore low status... We must value the work
      done by carers in a domestic situation because it is essential to the
      wellbeing of individuals and the community; bringing up the next
      generation should never be undervalued...
      Related to the unpaid caring work carried out in many families is the
      voluntary work on which our communities depend which is, by
      Friends and state authority
      definition, unpaid. Without volunteers many of the statutory services
      would be overwhelmed...
      Voluntary work gives the sense of being able to give something -
      whether in time, money or expertise - and that is precious to the
      person doing the giving. The feeling of having contributed, the
      satisfaction of a job lovingly done, is the reward. We should not
      regard voluntary work as of less value because it is unpaid and the
      rewards intangible, nor should we exploit the goodwill of
      Whichever sphere of activity we are involved in, we have to be
      responsive to the Spirit's leadings and try to put into practice our
      deepest beliefs, for our faith is a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week faith,
      which is not excluded from our workplace, wherever that may be.
      Everything in the end can be distilled to relationships - our
      relationships with each other and the earth. Our work must benefit
      our relationships rather than damage them, and we must ensure that
      neither the earth nor other people are exploited. Caring, not
      exploitation, is the key.

      Jane Stokes, 1992

23.65 Large numbers of people desperately need not only the honest, just
      and sympathetic administration of material assistance, but counselling
      and caring from skilled but warm persons, who for the most part can
      only be provided through an institutional framework, whether
      statutory or voluntary. But social workers themselves often face an
      uphill struggle, working with people on whom society has imposed
      burdens which for one reason or another they have found too heavy
      for them. These burdens may be lifted or lightened by the social
      worker, but they might never have been imposed in the first place if
      we had better and wiser architects and town planners, legislators and
      civil servants, broadcasters and advertising people, personnel
      managers and supervisors, economists and sociologists.

      Grigor McClelland, 1976

23.66 For some it is right to give their whole lives explicitly to concrete
      forms of service, but for most their service will lie 'in the sheer
      quality of the soul displayed in ordinary occupations'. Such ordinary
      occupations are sometimes an essential contribution to the liberation
      of another person for wider service, and in any case, the inspiration
      of a dedicated life lived in simple surroundings, though often
      untraceable, may be profound in its reach.

      Gerald Littleboy, 1945

23.67 We can neither deny nor ignore the fact that our self-respect and our
      sense of being useful are closely bound up with the ability to hold
      down a job. Unemployment not only results in a lowering of living
      standards, it also induces a feeling of insecurity, of being unwanted,
      that we no longer have a place in the community. The fear of
      unemployment causes more unhappiness and does more to lower
      self-confidence than any other element in life. The sense of security,
      so necessary to inner well-being, will never be sustained by a welfare
      system or any society which ignores these facts. Any percentage rate
      of unemployment can never be other than an index of human misery
      and desperate uncertainty; this applies not only to the unemployed
      persons but to their dependants also. Thus any economic system
      which possesses an inbuilt tendency to reduce human involvement in
      its day-to-day engagements is both unnatural and unkind.

      George Clarke, 1973

23.68 The poor without employment are like rough diamonds, their worth
      is unknown.

      John Bellers, 1714

23.69 Unemployment is in truth an astonishing evil and calm acquiescence
      therein is discreditable... The stoic endurance of privation in times of
      shortage is noble, but poverty caused by enforced idleness, and in the
      presence of plenty, is so glaring an injustice that no man should
      accept it tamely.

      Shipley N Brayshaw, 1933

23.70 We are in a new situation which demands new thinking. Advanced
      technology is producing techniques which will affect every field of
      human activity and can displace many people who at present have
      little opportunity of alternative work. We need to be far more
      ambitious and resourceful in our thinking. Technology alleviates the
      repetitive and mundane nature of many people's jobs. We need to
      approach the situation positively as an opportunity to promote new
      business and industrial ventures, to back initiatives from workers and
      trade unions, exploring alternative uses of the intricate technology of
      armaments to find ways of promoting service jobs related to inner-
      city renewal, or to help with unmet social needs. The solution of our
      energy problems may also serve to provide new opportunities for
      employment. We must look for revolutionary approaches which can
      promote the sharing of the gains and benefits of new technology and
      a far greater awareness of the need to accept the concept of equity.
      We have been asked to see those in the midst of our community who
      are suffering from unemployment as well as to look for new
      solutions. John Bellers reminded Friends that God would not send
      his angels to solve our problems; it is we who must seek the solutions
      with God's guidance, and we who must do the job.

      London Yearly Meeting, 1978


23.71 Then I came to Waltham and established a school there for the
      teaching of boys, and ordered a women's school to be set up at
      Shacklewell to instruct young lasses and maidens in whatsoever
      things were civil and useful in the creation.

      George Fox, 1668

23.72 This meeting do desire that, where Friends can, they would get such
      schools and schoolmasters for their children, as may bring them up
      in the fear of the Lord and love of his truth, that so they may not
      only learn to be scholars, but Christians also; and that all parents will
      take the same care at home that such reproof, instructions, counsel,
      and example may be constantly continued in their respective families,
      that so from the oldest to the youngest, Truth may show itself in its
      beauty and comeliness to God's glory and all his people's comfort.

      Bristol Yearly Meeting, 1695

23.73 Our experience [is] that God speaks to and works through children
      as well as adults. Religious education needs to respect, affirm and
      value children's insights.
      The Quaker understanding of Christianity includes:
      The experience that it is possible to have both a strong faith
      commitment and an open mind, to take other positions seriously
      without trivialising them, and to value the people who differ from
      The belief that the same God known through Christianity is also
      present in other faiths. The study of other faith positions is therefore
      important, not only for its own sake, but as a contribution towards
      humility before the mystery of truth.
      The experience that valuable worship can be held in a multifaith
      context, especially when silence is the basis for prayer. We would
      assert that school worship which shows respect for other faith
      positions by presenting them with accuracy and sympathy is, by our
      definition, Christian.
      The belief in the equality of all human beings of whatever sex, race,
      class or age. This is firmly grounded in God's love for each
      individual, rather than in social fashion. This requires policies, not of
      equal opportunities (which redistribute inequality) but of equality,
      and implies that schools be reorganised for co-operation rather than
      competition, and for affirming people in their successes rather than
      their failures.

      Janet Scott, 1988

23.74 The Quaker emphasis in education probably lies in non-violence, in
      participation, and in caring. Not only to run the school without
      violence, but to produce young people who will feel a concern to
      reduce the level of violence in the world. Not to impose the aims of
      the school on the pupils, but to lead them to their own acceptance of
      these aims, to a share (however small) in its running, and a pleasure
      in its successes. To find that of God in every pupil.
      'This is the true ground of love and unity,' wrote Isaac Penington in
      1659, 'not that such a man walks and does just as I do, but because I
      feel the same Spirit and life in him, and that he walks in his rank, in
      his own order, in his proper way.' This marvellous statement by an
      early Friend of the value of individualism surely commands our
      assent today. The school which respects every pupil as an individual
      will try to teach each one what he (or she) needs to learn, to draw out
      his unique talents, to understand his proper way, whether he is
      studying or misbehaving. 'This is far more pleasing to me,' Penington
      continues, 'than if he walked just in that track wherein I walk.'

      Quakers and their schools, 1980

23.75 To confirm the deepest thing in our students is the educator's special
      privilege. It demands that we see in the failures of adolescence and its
      many confusions, the possibility of something untangled, clear,
      directed. It asks us to sustain that faith through a multiplicity of
      discouraging experiences and indeed to find within those experiences
      the grounds for hope. It requires us to love freely, readily,
      unconditionally but truly - without relaxing our standards or
      compromising ourselves - because to do that would be to disappoint
      and disillusion - a sure means of stunting the student's growth.
      Above all, we must water the ground of the student's being with faith
      in that deepest self - to do so constantly, tirelessly, patiently - and to
      love enough to know what one should demand from the student in
      response and how and when to ask it.

      Barbara Windle, 1988

23.76 The capacity to listen is something which is greatly needed and is an
      important part of our education, something which has to be worked
      at constantly. We so easily fall into a pattern of imagining we know
      what someone else is going to say to us. Sometimes this is the case,
      but more often than not we have made up our mind, and received a
      message which may be completely erroneous and precludes a true
      understanding. We must have all experienced the circumstances in
      which a child tries to make himself understood and in which we have
      prejudged what is his meaning. In that case we never meet. There is
      one occasion which stands out very clearly in my life when a
      youngster kept coming up to me and I answered what I thought the
      question was going to be; at the end of a week she stood resolutely
      between me and the door clutching a piece of paper asking if she
      could discontinue my lessons. All that time I had been answering an
      unasked question and missing the point of contact. This is something
      which most of us do all too often in one way or another: we have a
      duty to try to help each other to communicate. We must endeavour
      to meet each other's minds and we must attempt to achieve not only
      sympathy but empathy.

      D June Ellis, 1981

23.77 To 'know oneself' as a teacher implies acknowledging one's
      weaknesses, source of prejudices and tendencies to stereotype. It
      involves accepting one's effect on pupils and their parents.
      Diagnosing a child's learning needs involves risking being wrong. We
      can only see clearly and risk being wrong when we have a high level
      of self-esteem and when we love ourselves enough to be open.
      To acknowledge those aspects in ourselves and our own practice
      which hinder an understanding of the learner's needs is difficult. Yet
      when we can do this, we are given the strength to respond lovingly to
      others, recognising that of God in everyone, which for Quakers, is
      what meeting the needs of the individual is all about.

      Sarah Worster, 1988

23.78 We seek to affirm in each child at school, each member of the
      meeting, each person we meet in our daily lives, the person that he or
      she may with God's help grow to be. We are all the merest infants in
      God's world, struggling to stand upright and walk unaided, trying in
      vain to articulate our halting thoughts and feelings. We stumble and
      fall. We give way to self-pity and shame. God hauls us to our feet
      again and makes sense of our childish babble, never ceasing to
      believe in what we may ultimately become. Do we do the same for
      our children and one another? We have a responsibility to follow
      Pierre Ceresole's dictum: 'Speak to every child as if you were
      addressing the utterly truthful upright individual which under your
      guidance he may one day become'. Our Quaker witness demands of
      us that we 'respect children very much more than they respect
      When we find ourselves teaching - as we all do in our relationships
      within meeting - can we draw upon that respect for one another and
      faith in one another's potential that will enable the other to feel taller
      and more capable? At Rufus Jones's memorial meeting one of his
      students simply said: 'He lit my candle'. That is a high aim for us all
      to aspire to in educating ourselves and our young people.

      Barbara Windle, 1988

23.79 I may reach God through Keats, you by Beethoven, and a third
      through Einstein. Should not education to the Christian mean just
      this - enlarging and cultivating the country of God; and the subjects
      on any school timetable be thought of as avenues to an increasingly
      fuller life in God, or, to change the metaphor, windows, each of
      which gives a new view of the Kingdom of Heaven? ... This may
      seem a fantastically idealised view of what happens in a school,
      especially in these days of examinations, but is there any other open
      to the religiously-minded teacher? Is the commercial side of school
      and college life, the exchange of intellectual wares for examination
      results, so many facts and opinions for so many marks, which is so
      terribly dominating nowadays, to be allowed to weaken the allegiance
      of the young to knowledge and beauty as bringers of God to mortal
      men? No examination has yet been devised the passing of which will
      guarantee wisdom or culture. For these are slow-growing breeds,
      matters of character as well as of intellect and sentiment, the
      outcome of long exposure to the influences of truth and beauty.

      Caroline C Graveson, 1937

23.80 Increasingly we see education as part of living rather than as
      preparation for living, and the motivation for educating ourselves
      and others grows more intrinsic than extrinsic. At Woodbrooke,
      which in some respects I still think is a prototype for much modern
      adult education, we have tried to build a small community to which
      people come in response to their own need for reflection or new
      skills or time to read; where proper attention is paid also to the needs
      of the neighbourhood; where staff and students and domestic
      workers and gardeners address each other without titles; where
      teachers and learners often exchange roles; where qualifications for
      entry are the ability to follow some courses, the wish to study, and
      the will to make community work; where the tasks are largely self-
      chosen; where conversation is expected between all age-groups
      between 18 and 80; where differences of nationality are seen as
      enrichment rather than as barriers (for one of the tasks of education
      is the enjoyment of diversity); where the rewards are existential, being
      visible chiefly in renewed courage or energy or the ability to re-
      launch oneself or to perform more adequately some of those unpaid
      services that make up the fabric of society. Of course we do not
      succeed all the time. But failure is also what we have to educate
      ourselves for - the humiliating, stimulating experiences of failures
      that we and our students must learn to use as stepping-stones rather
      than to deplore as obstacles.

      William Fraser, 1973

23.81 To watch the spirit of children, to nurture them in Gospel Love, and
      labour to help them against that which would mar the beauty of their
      minds, is a debt we owe them; and a faithful performance of our duty
      not only tends to their lasting benefit and our own peace, but also to
      render their company agreeable to us. A care hath lived on my mind,
      that more time might be employed by parents at home, and by tutors
      at school, in weightily attending to the spirit and inclinations of
      children, and that we may so lead, instruct and govern them, in this
      tender part of life, that nothing may be omitted in our power, to help
      them on their way to become the children of our Father who is in

      John Woolman, 1758

23.82 When I taught my children how to do many things I ensured that
      they would have skills to give them abilities, enjoyment and health.
      What I think I chiefly taught them was that I was right and they were
      wrong. When I hear them teaching their friends how to play games I
      realise just how much I bossed them around. In seeking to pass on
      our values to our children I think we largely waste our time. They will
      pick up our values from us by the way we live and the assumptions
      that underpin our own lives.

      John Guest, 1987

23.83 If children are to be instructed in the groundwork of true religion,
      ought they not to discover in those placed over them, a lively
      example of its influence? Or ought they to see anything in the
      conduct of others, which would be condemned in them, were they in
      similar circumstances? Of what importance, then, is it for guardians
      of children, to rule their own spirits. For when their tempers are
      irritable, their language impetuous, their voices exerted above what is
      necessary, their threatenings unguarded, or the execution of them
      rash, however children may for a time suffer under these things, they
      are not instructed thereby in the groundwork of true religion.

      Friends Educational Society, 1841

23.84 Friends' peace testimony challenges us all to be peace educators. We
      may not all be teachers, but we are all communicators, and we all
      need to be learners. Peace education should be seen as an integral
      part of our peace testimony. But it is essentially something one does,
      and not something one talks about... Learning, to be educated, means
      changing one's behaviour, and peace education therefore aims at
      changing our own individual behaviour... We communicate our
      values by the manner of our lives, but how many of us negate the
      peaceful attitudes we fervently profess by our own aggressive

      Eva I Pinthus, 1982

23.85 I feel peace education is about teaching children to discover that they
      have the power to change things they see are wrong and developing
      the imagination to find alternative responses to conflict. This is not
      an objective for a course called 'Peace' on the timetable. It must
      permeate all our teaching. For we cannot teach one thing and act
      another. If we teach children to feel their own power we must be
      ready for them to criticise the school itself. In order to survive we
      must begin to teach them to challenge authority, our own included.
      This means that there are likely to be conflicts. And conflicts are to
      be welcomed as opportunities for growth. Too often conflict leads to
      violence and aggression because we are trapped in a mentality which
      expects every conflict to be resolved by a victory for one party. But
      victory for one implies of necessity defeat for the other and therein
      lies the seed of further conflict.
      Teachers are optimists. We would not be teachers if we did not have
      confidence in the future and in humankind. We trust that given the
      right opportunities children will grow up into responsible adults
      capable of making good choices and of saving the world from
      disaster. Perhaps the most important thing we can do today is to
      transmit to our pupils that sense of hope. The prevailing mood is one
      of pessimism and despair. 'Why should I work hard when I won't be
      able to get a job anyway?' 'Why should I plan for a future which may
      never happen?' 'What difference can I make to decisions of
      The two qualities which are most important to children of today are
      hope and imagination. Hope to believe they can change the world
      they live in and imagination to find ways to do so.

      Janet Gilbraith, 1986
      See also 24.54


23.86 For conscience' sake to God, we are bound by his just law in our
      hearts to yield obedience to [authority] in all matters and cases
      actively or passively; that is to say, in all just and good commands of
      the king and the good laws of the land relating to our outward man,
      we must be obedient by doing ... but ... if anything be commanded of
      us by the present authority, which is not according to equity, justice
      and a good conscience towards God ... we must in such cases obey
      God only and deny active obedience for conscience' sake, and
      patiently suffer what is inflicted upon us for such our disobedience to

      Edward Burrough, 1661

23.87 After the bombardment of Alexandria in 1882, John Bright, in explaining his
      resignation from the Government, said to the Commons:
      The House knows that for forty years at least I have endeavoured to
      teach my countrymen an opinion and doctrine which I hold, namely,
      that the moral law is intended not for individual life only, but for the
      life and practice of States in their dealing with one another. I think
      that in the present case there has been a manifest violation both of
      International Law and of the moral law, and therefore it is impossible
      for me to give my support to it.

23.88 We have ... in our Quaker history a lesson for our own lives of the
      meaning of Christian citizenship. You can see there a two-fold strand
      constantly interwoven: one, respect for the state as representing
      authority in the community: and the other, desire to serve the
      community through the state and in other ways, but along with that,
      the desire above all to serve the Kingdom of God: this means that we
      must be willing, when loyalty to the Kingdom of God demands it to
      refuse the demands of the state and show the highest loyalty to the
      state and the best citizenship by refusing demands that are wrong,
      because it is only in that way that the conscience of our fellow
      citizens can be reached, and in the end a better law come into being.

      T Edmund Harvey, 1937

23.89 From a statement presented to London Yearly Meeting by a committee appointed
      by young men of enlistment age present at Yearly Meeting 1915:
      Christ demands of us that we adhere, without swerving, to the
      methods of love, and therefore, if a seeming conflict should arise
      between the claims of His service and those of the State, it is to
      Christ that our supreme loyalty must be given, whatever the
      consequences. We should however remember that whatever is our
      highest loyalty to God and humanity is at the same time the highest
      loyalty that we can render to our nation.

23.90 Statement issued by Meeting for Sufferings in 1917, after the issue of a regulation
      requiring the submission of pamphlets to the Censor during the World War:
      The executive body of the Society of Friends, after serious
      consideration, desires to place on record its conviction that the
      portion of the recent regulation requiring the submission to the
      censor of all leaflets dealing with the present war and the making of
      peace is a grave danger to the national welfare. The duty of every
      good citizen to express his thoughts on the affairs of his country is
      hereby endangered, and further we believe that Christianity requires
      the toleration of opinions not our own, lest we should unwittingly
      hinder the workings of the Spirit of God.
      Beyond this there is a deeper issue involved. It is for Christians a
      paramount duty to be free to obey and to act and speak in accord
      with the law of God, a law higher than that of any state, and no
      government official can release men from this duty.
      We realise the rarity of the occasions on which a body of citizens find
      their sense of duty to be in conflict with the law, and it is with a sense
      of the gravity of this decision, that the Society of Friends must on
      this occasion act contrary to the regulation, and continue to issue
      literature on war and peace without submitting it to the censor. It is
      convinced that in thus standing firm for spiritual liberty it is acting in
      the best interests of the nation.

23.91 We are deeply uneasy about the increasing secrecy which permeates
      our process of government. We see this in the 1989 Official Secrets
      Act, which no longer allows the defence of the right of disclosure in
      the public interest. We have been led to the conviction that, despite a
      culture of state secrecy, we must strive to bring about openness in
      our country. Secrecy bolsters power and leads to deceit and the abuse
      of power. At times a sensitive reticence is required but, in working in
      the spirit of love and trust rather than fear, we seek to discern the
      boundary between that reticence and secrecy.

      London Yearly Meeting, 1990
      See also 29.11


23.92 On the passing of the Military Service Act 1916, London Yearly Meeting
      We take this, the earliest opportunity, of reaffirming our entire
      opposition to compulsory military service and our desire for the
      repeal of the act. War, in our view, involves the surrender of the
      Christian ideal and the denial of human brotherhood; it is an evil for
      the destruction of which the world is longing; but freedom from the
      scourge of war will only be brought about through the faithfulness of
      individuals to their inmost convictions, under the guidance of the
      spirit of Christ.
      Our position is based upon our interpretation of the teaching of
      Jesus Christ. We regard the central conception of the act as
      imperilling the liberty of the individual conscience - which is the
      main hope of human progress - and as entrenching more deeply that
      militarism from which we all desire the world to be freed... Our lives
      should prove that compulsion is both unnecessary and impolitic.
      They should manifest a sense of duty not less strong than that which
      has driven many whom we respect (and some even of our own
      members) into the fighting forces. We can identify ourselves to the
      full with the griefs of our nation in which few hearts are not torn by
      suffering or harrowed by suspense. We pray that in steadfast
      conformity to the path of duty we may be set free to serve - to give
      to the community the fullest service of which we are capable - each
      one in the way of God's appointing.

23.93 Compulsory military service is sometimes claimed as a duty attaching
      to citizenship. But it is not true social service. On the one hand it is
      part of the attempt to maintain peace by force, and on the other it is
      training in methods that are contrary to the highest moral standards
      recognised by man... The training of men to kill each other is a
      violation of the sacredness of personality for it is a crime against that
      of God in every man. It requires an inhumanity and a blind
      obedience that is a negation of responsible service to our fellow men.
      It demands much that in private life is recognised as anti-social and
      criminal... Christ bids us love our enemies; governments bid us kill
      them. The conscript is, in effect, required to endorse war in advance.

      Meeting for Sufferings, 1945
      See also 24.14-24.16 Conscientious objection to compulsory military

      Crime and punishment

23.94 The terrible sufferings of our forebears in the prisons of the
      seventeenth century have given us as a people a special interest in the
      management of prisons and the treatment of crime. George Fox
      protested to the judges of his day 'concerning their putting men to
      death for cattle and money and small matters'; and laid before them
      'what a hurtful thing it was that prisoners should lie so long in jail';
      showing how 'they learned wickedness from one another in talking
      of their bad deeds'.
      There is, however, much work still to be done, in creating a right
      understanding of the nature and causes of crime, and in emphasising
      the need for redemptive treatment rather than retributive
      punishment. Society is in measure responsible for the criminal, a fact
      which emphasises the duty of meeting moral failure by redemptive
      care. Evil can only be finally overcome by good.
      1911; 1925; 1959; 1994

23.95 The essential idea behind these first tentative criticisms [of early
      prison conditions by George Fox and William Penn] was a
      completely new one: that imprisonment should be looked on as a
      means of reforming criminals and not merely punishing them. No
      man is ever utterly lost, and however deep he is sunk in evil, the only
      just approach to him is to work for his recovery. This principle led
      John Bellers, the earliest Friend to pay serious and systematic
      attention to social reform, to plead for the abolition of the death
      penalty [in 1699]. Society had done enough for its own protection, he
      argued, when it had rendered a murderer harmless by putting him in
      prison; if it did more it was acting in a spirit of revenge.

      Harold Loukes, 1960

23.96 The real security for human life is to be found in a reverence for it. If
      the law regarded it as inviolable, then the people would begin also so
      to regard it. A deep reverence for human life is worth more than a
      thousand executions in the prevention of murder... The law of capital
      punishment while pretending to support this reverence, does in fact
      tend to destroy it.

      John Bright, 1868

23.97 At a time when a Bill was before Parliament for the abolition of the death
      penalty for murder:
      We feel that we should at this time declare once again our
      unwavering opposition to capital punishment. The sanctity of human
      life is one of the fundamentals of a Christian society and can in no
      circumstances be set aside. Our concern, therefore, is for all victims
      of violence, not only the murderer but also those who suffer by his
      The sanctioning by the State of the taking of human life has a
      debasing effect on the community, and tends to produce the very
      brutality which it seeks to prevent. We realise that many are sincerely
      afraid of the consequences if the death penalty is abolished, but we
      are convinced that their fears are unjustified.

      London Yearly Meeting, 1956

23.98 Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) was born into the Gurney family in Norwich. She
      committed herself to a religious life following the visit of William Savery of
      Philadelphia when she was seventeen. She devoted herself to work for prison
      reform (see 18.08 & 26.40). In 1827 she wrote of this work:
      Much depends on the spirit in which the visitor enters upon her
      work. It must be in the spirit, not of judgment, but of mercy. She
      must not say in her heart I am more holy than thou, but must rather keep
      in perpetual remembrance that 'all have sinned and come short of the
      Glory of God'.

23.99 There was no weakness or trouble of mind or body which might not
      safely be unveiled to [Elizabeth Fry]. Whatever various or opposite
      views, feelings or wishes might be confided to her, all came out again
      tinged with her own loving, hoping spirit. Bitterness of every kind
      died; when entrusted to her, it never reappeared. The most
      favourable construction possible was always put upon every
      transaction. No doubt her failing lay this way; but did it not give her
      and her example a wonderful influence? Was it not the very secret of
      her power with the wretched and degraded prisoners? She always
      could see hope for everyone; she invariably found or made some
      point of light. The most abandoned must have felt she did not
      despair for them, either for this world or another; and this it was that
      made her irresistible.

      Priscilla Buxton, 1847

23.100 In the evening Martha Savory, my mother [Mary Dudley] and I
      went to Newgate [Gaol], where we met Elizabeth Fry, Peter Bedford
      and Edward Harris. We saw about fifteen poor men under sentence
      of death, who soon collected round us and stood with the most
      becoming and quiet attention, whilst my mother was engaged to
      preach the gospel of reconciliation... The two especially who had but
      a few hours to live, were encouraged to cast themselves upon the
      mercy and forgiveness of an all-gracious God whose power and
      goodness are the same as when they were manifested to the thief
      upon the cross... They wept freely, and though not able to say much,
      we fully believe they felt. It was difficult to tear ourselves from such a
      scene, and we turned from these poor sufferers under the feeling of
      indignant repugnance to the sanguinary nature of those laws which
      put so little value upon human life, and adjudge punishments so
      disproportioned to and so unlikely to prevent the renewal of crimes.

      Elizabeth Dudley, 1818

23.101 Imprisonment ... offers some protection to society by removing
      the offender. But consider how limited that protection is compared
      to what it could be. It puts the offender against property into a place
      where he is deprived of opportunities to practise the social rules
      about property; it puts the violent man into a subculture which is
      governed by violence; it puts the defrauder into a power system
      where corruption is rife; it puts the sexual offender into a place
      where sexual relief is only obtainable by substitutes; ... it puts those
      who need to learn to take control of their lives into a situation where
      all significant choices are made for them; and it puts the offender
      who is likely to reform into a milieu where most of the influences on
      him or her are criminal ones.

      John Lampen, 1987

23.102 We believe in overcoming evil with good. We must speak and act
      from our own inner light to the inner light in all others as Jesus did.
      He showed and taught love, respect and concern for all, particularly
      those rejected by others, reaching out to the good in them.
      Causing deliberate hurt to another person because that suffering is
      thought to be of benefit in itself, we believe is not a Christian
      response. Punishment in this sense not only harms the punished but
      also degrades those who inflict it, and is a barrier to the working of
      God's love within us.
      Whether it be in the family, the school, the workplace or the wider
      community the intentional use of pain and suffering cannot be the
      best way to resolve differences, or gain the cooperation of people or
      restrain those who harm themselves or others.
      To do away with punishment is not to abandon safety and control or
      to move towards disintegration, disorder and lawlessness. A non-
      punitive approach will not remove the need in some circumstances
      for restraint or secure containment, but it does mean that restraint
      and containment should be carried out in a life-enhancing spirit of
      love and care.
      Nor in general does this loving approach have lesser expectations or
      demand less responsibility than does the infliction and acceptance of
      punishment. In personal relationships and in the broader context of
      community and international affairs a positive response to aberrant
      or destructive behaviour through reconciliation, restitution and
      reparation may take longer but it will be more likely to encourage the
      good in all parties, restore those who are damaged, reduce
      resentment and bitterness, and enable all those involved to move
      towards fuller integration.

      Six Quakers, 1979

23.103 Reconciliation in its basic form occurs between two people face to
      face... But we must be clear that reconciliation, in the sense of
      meeting, comprehending, and working to prevent the future
      following the pattern of the past, is not always possible. The demand
      for justice, the desire for revenge, may prevent it. Quakers in
      particular seem to have a horror of revenge as a motive. We need to
      remember that, in the interests of social harmony, law-abiding
      citizens have voluntarily surrendered their rights of retaliation to the
      state. It may be true that when the state takes revenge, nothing
      constructive has been achieved. But it is also true that if not even this
      is done, the hurt remains with the person who has been wronged.
      Where the burden of suffering is clearly on one side, the burden of
      wrong-doing on the other, it is a kind of insult to tell the victim that
      he or she should be reconciled. We are told that there is no peace
      without justice. How are we to meet the claims of justice without
      forging the next link in the chain of hurt?
      Restitution ... accepts the reality of what has happened and the right
      of the sufferer to 'have something done about it'. It accepts that the
      perpetrator is in most cases feeling guilty, or at least humiliated to
      have been detected. But it offers him or her an opportunity to regain
      the good opinion of the sufferer and the community, and to be seen
      as a person who can give as well as take away, who can right wrongs
      as well as cause them... When I was working with deviant and
      deprived children, and almost all disciplinary matters were decided by
      the whole community on a basis of putting things right, I was able to
      see how the victims feel supported and protected by this approach. It
      was moving to see how much they wanted to accept the evidence of
      contrition, how much they wanted to forgive. Provided that we could
      ensure that it worked effectively, those who had been hurt were
      satisfied; it was outsiders, not directly involved, who became angry
      and told me that this was a sentimental option which did not face the
      realities of injustice. They were afraid of pain, hurt, violence, and the
      breakdown of order; and their fear made them violent. Those who
      had already experienced this breakdown recognised that restitution
      offered them a way out.
      John Lampen, 1987