It’s very easy to feel helpless in the face of current world events, particularly when we hear so much about war and conflict playing out in our daily news-feed.  I often feel angry and find myself getting swept along with perhaps over-simplified stories about who is “good” and “bad “ in these scenarios.  I can be tempted to blame others for what’s going on, as if it has nothing to do with me. 

In such times, I find great comfort and guidance in remembering some advice in a small, red pamphlet that many Quakers hold dear – our continuously revised “Advices and queries”:

Search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of war. Stand firm in our (peace) testimony, even when others commit or prepare to commit acts of violence, yet always remember that they too are children of God. Bring into God’s light those emotions, attitudes and prejudices in yourself which lie at the root of destructive conflict, acknowledging your need for forgiveness and grace.

My fellow Friends at Kendal Meeting often refer to this passage. For me, this advice helps remind me of my own capacity for judgement, destructiveness and blame.  This humbling recollection helps to soften me, reminding me of our common humanity (for good and ill) and opens my heart to the pain that’s driving so much of the conflict that we find going on around us. 

Written by Karen Jaques, Kendal Quaker Meeting.

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