Letters - 11 October 2019

From the amazing young to insightful and healing

The amazing young

I would like to give Barbara Forbes (20 September) reassurance that Friends remember the importance of Quaker Concern for the Abolition of Torture. We each have our own personal concern to which we feel we can contribute. We have different abilities and available time (that reduces as we get older).

Barbara is right that we need to maintain a firm structure on which we base our Society. Thank goodness we have people like her, prepared to give so much time and resources. However, with dwindling numbers and increasing average age, we cannot find enough members to take on all these roles.

We can, though, take on younger, trained specialists who are Friends, on contract, to work full-time. It is great to see younger, professional teams set up, based in Friends House, under the supervision of Britain Yearly Meeting and Meeting for Sufferings.

They are selected for spirit and abilities and can help us come to terms with what to keep and what to lay down. They are not ‘priests’ but more like missionaries, carrying the spirit of the Society in today’s precarious world.

Many ‘older Friends’ are glad if we can make it regularly to Meeting, let alone become trustees. The difficult thing is accepting and getting used to change. Things aren’t what they used to be, but ‘the young’ are amazing. We have to trust them, while giving advice ‘as and when’.

I hope Barbara and other trustees and volunteer administrators realise just how grateful we are for all they do.

George Macpherson

Ethical resonances

May I respond to Susanna Riviere’s letter, headed ‘Veganism diet and digest’ (20 September). I am vegan and, as happens with those with special requirements, occasionally cannot eat what is offered at communal meals. At such times I just enjoy the opportunity to socialise. I can always, with no great inconvenience, eat later.

Actually I never have diet-related problems because I bring food to share. I do not eat biscuits or cakes that are not vegan or which contain palm oil derivatives, so, unless I bring my own, cannot join in the Quaker tradition of consuming quantities of biscuits or cake with my beverage, yet I survive.

The love and companionship of a group of diverse individuals with whom I share core values outweighs the minuscule inconvenience of bringing my own snack. In my experience most people are kind, considerate and accommodating. No one has ever pushed me to consume anything I did not want. I hope this will reassure Susanna that among friends good paths will always be found to respect and accommodate diversity.

Ruth Tod (6 September) states: ‘I don’t think veganism has all the answers’. No one has ever suggested veganism or any other system or organisation of living has ‘all the answers’. An intention of my article on Quaker values and veganism (14 June) was to open up a vigorous and friendly discussion, still awaiting take off, about the ethical resonances between vegan and Quaker values.

Rajan Naidu

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