Letters - 23 September 2022

From Different views to Quakers and religion

Different views

Thank you Clive Ashwin (9 September) for highlighting the different views about Boris Johnson, which have divided our country. I do think Deryck Hillas’ comments (5 August) were a bit brisk, for the Friend’s letter page, but if we cannot communicate about the issues of Truth and Integrity in the Friend, where can it be discussed? It is one of our Testimonies.

The honesty of the last government was one of the reasons the Quaker Truth and Integrity group was created. I know Boris Johnson and his cabinet have stood up and told everyone how well they have done, but do we just accept what they say? Anyone who follows More or Less on Radio 4 will know how untrue a lot of what has been said is, even in parliament.

The deaths during Covid, especially at the beginning, were terrible, but we may never be told quite how bad it was, because of secrecy in government. The Brexit deal was done with the cabinet knowing they would be changing the contract later. Not quite a moral victory? And Quakers around the country will be greatly saddened by the amount of money and weapons pumped into the war in Ukraine.

Then climate change commitments were just a whitewash as all along the cabinet planned to allow for the continued search for oil. That is not to mention the slowness of any financial help which was promised to those illegally sent back to the West Indies and those in flats with cladding. The treatment of asylum seekers and refugees has also been terrible beyond words.

So, to finish, I would suggest we all need to be careful when hearing people telling you how wonderful they are.

Barbara Mark

Political issues

I was disappointed that after sharing his legitimate concern that party political views were being promoted in the pages of the Friend, Clive Ashwin went on to detail his own party political views (9 September).

As Quakers we stand for the testimonies of Equality, Justice, Peace, Truth, Integrity, Simplicity and Sustainability – values that transcend any politician’s manifesto.

When we debate political issues among ourselves, we should do so in a way that deepens our personal understanding of the testimonies. This will involve seeking truths in other Friends’ opinions and avoiding provocative language (Advices & queries 17).

Party-political judgemental language has become too common among us and prevents our Meetings from becoming communities in which each person feels accepted (Advices & queries 18).

Recently, in a Meeting house I had never visited before, I sat down with a Friend I had never met before who very quickly moved the conversation on to how much they ‘hated’ a particular political party. Later on, another Friend in the Meeting house described a high-profile politician in a way that stigmatised those with mental illness. In another Meeting house I heard a Quaker condemning a member of the government as ‘evil’.

There is that of God in everyone, including the politicians we don’t agree with.

James Priestman

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