Living what we believe
The term Quaker testimonies alludes to the living out of Quaker principles.
Quakers’ understanding of faith is that true human fulfilment comes from an attempt to live life in the spirit of love, integrity, authenticity and peace, answering that of ‘God’ in everyone.
The testimonies are likely to challenge our normal ways of living. Our day-to-day practice of them can present us with many dilemmas and compromises.
The testimonies do not exist in any rigid, written form; nor are they imposed in any way. All Quakers have to search for the ways in which the testimonies can become true for themselves. This may mean taking a stand against common social practices.
Quakers are prominent in work for disadvantaged people at home and abroad and have always been involved in helping slaves, prisoners, people with mental health problems, refugees and war casualties, to name but a few. We are also well known for our work in prisons, our Quaker schools and our participation in environmental and peace projects.
The challenge today
We live at a time of unparalleled scientific progress and extraordinary change. People have become much more interlinked, yet the gap between rich and poor is widening. Injustice, insensitivity, misunderstanding, desperation, dislocation and the clash of cultures mean that all societies face huge challenges.
We need to play our part in a process of genuine understanding, tolerance, reaching out and inclusiveness that draws heavily on the underlying spiritual values of the testimonies. Only in that way can we get beyond the hatred and division that is perpetuated by rash military responses to events that sem threatening.
Since we are all responsible for the society we live in, we must examine the nature of that society. How far does it encourage love, compassion, justice, simplicity, peacefulness and truth? Do wealth, success and power lead to true happiness and fulfilment? And do we recognise in the natural world something which is precious in its own right? We cannot ignore the effects of our actions, however indirect, on other people and on nature in our shrinking world.
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