24 Sep 2016

Quaker Testimonies

My take on the Quaker Testimonies (or Quaker Values) for a possible discussion on Quakers and Politics. It'd aim to consider the 4 (or 5) testimonies and how they relate to the political stances of the various political parties.

The best list of testimonies that I have found is at quaker.org.uk, which groups them under the mnemonic, 'PETS': peace, equality, truth, simplicity and sustainability. They stem from a belief that love is at the centre of existence and there is that of God in everyone. 


Peace and nonviolence 

This is not just about conscientious objection, rejecting war and nuclear weapons but also about resolving conflict in peaceful, nonviolent ways at every level from the personal to the international. Quakers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947.


Equality

Quakers believe everyone is equal and the Equality Testimony covers things like


Truth and integrity

To quote our name in full, Quakers belong to the 'Religious Society of Friends of the Truth'. We try to live according to the deepest truth we know, which we believe comes from God.

This means speaking truth to all, including 'speaking truth to power' and expectiong to see it in public life (however naïve that may sound).

Quaker integrity was a key factor in the success of banks founded by Quakers, including Lloyds and Barclays. 


Simplicity and sustainability

'Live simply, that others may simply live' – attributed to early Quaker, John Woolman and Gandhi and others. Doesn’t matter who said it, it sums up the simplicity testimony, which is about rejecting consumerism and unsustainable use of natural resources and embracing what really matters: the people around us, the natural world, our experience of God.

Sustainability is the newest of the testimonies and has been somewhat tagged on to the foundational one of simplicity, thus reflecting a move to keep up with the times and focus on solutions to impending man-made environmental catastrophe. 


SPICES

In the USA, Quakers tend to have six testimonies, with the mnemonic 'SPICES':- Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship. See quakersintheworld.org/home/testimonies

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