Letters - 19 July 2019

From guilty to a way forward

Not guilty

Rosemary Wells (28 June) asks, in response to her reading of the report of Yearly Meeting and its epistle: ‘Why should we be made to feel guilty and ashamed for being who we are?’

If that had been the message of Yearly Meeting and the epistle then I would share her concerns. But it was not the message, so I do not share her fears.

Yes, the words ‘guilt’ and ‘shame’ were much mentioned, more often as someone saying what they felt rather than what they or we were being made to feel. We were encouraged not to feel ashamed of who or what we are. We were reminded we ‘can’t get rid of shame’ just by ‘saying it ought not to be there’. It takes time, love and encouragement.

The environment that I found Yearly Meeting provided helped us to examine our privilege, to reflect on the extent to which we have, as Rosemary has done, used it to help others. Yearly Meeting also provided the opportunity to think about how we might continue this in future.

As Nim Njuguna said, ‘it’s not about guilt-trips’ but ‘how are you, my dear Friend, in your privilege, power and influence, how are you progressing the causes of social justice… and upholding Quaker values in your personal and collective sphere of influence?’

I left Yearly Meeting energised, renewed, and hoping others did the same, and that we can spread its true message to those who were not privileged to be there.

Helen Carter-Shaw

Home truths

In Judith Roads’ simple but powerful article (28 June), she draws attention to a likeness between the rebellious yet peaceful Extinction Rebellion movement at work nationwide with seventeenth century early Quakers.

I was also present in London on several days during XR events in April. I was also strongly led to compare those compelling gathered moments, whether being addressed or coming together with other demonstrators and the public at road blocks, to the fervour that we are told about in those early Quaker days.

The only thing Judith does not mention and I must emphasise, though it must have already been obvious to many Quakers, is the resounding XR message, ‘Tell the Truth’ about the climate crisis. When I have mentioned to my XR friends that this, to me, is an echo of George Fox’s ‘speak truth to power’, they have been surprised. Our testimonies are apparently so quiet.

But in my opinion there has never been a greater need globally, with a net of lies worldwide, for this advice to be shouted out.

Sarah Freeman

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