Friday, December 5, 2008
Friends Testimony Pt 2 of 2
Friends testimony has been applied to specific areas of life, many of which address the artificial barriers between humans and also between humans and the divine. Friends practice on simplicity has been, at least partially, to keep the human barriers at a minimum. Scrupulous avoidance of dishonesty in language and business dealings, of titles as a distinction of persons, and of excess in dress or life style are all expressions of a desire to avoid barriers to truth and directness in relationships. One of the emphases on equality and love for all has been a denial of all war since war tends to destroy individuals and place others on a much lower level "ourselves." We must love our enemies if we are to truly remove them as enemies and allow love and "that of God" to be recognized in everyone.
However, possibly of greater impact on the society than these denials of barriers have been the positive attempts to make the means of our lives in practice to match the ends for which we strive in faith. Friends have been among the first in several areas: treating prisoners with dignity and respect, possibly because so many of the early Friends had been prisoners themselves; dealing with the Native Americans on an equal basis; treating those of African descent as equals and worthy of freedom and dignity; establishing schools for everyone, male and female; allowing women to participate on an equal basis in activities of the Society; working towards treating natural resources and our world as precious gifts to be respected; and working for for economic and political justice so that all persons can pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Friends have tried to interpret equality and peace into more than the absence of war but an active cooperation among individuals, groups, and nations. It has been said that to NOT make peace may be as wrong as waging war.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive of all testimonies or concerns of Friends which have been and, of necessity, will be adapted to the needs of persons and the commands of the Spirit as we listen to, hear, and obey these as individuals and as a group.