QUAKER TESTIMONY OF JUSTICE

Do rightly, justly, truly, holily, equally to all people in all things; and that is according to that of God in everyone, and the witness of God, and the wisdom of God, and the life of God in yourselves.
Whatever your calling, live in the power of Truth and wisdom of God to answer that just principle of God in all people upon the earth.
So, let your lives preach, let your light shine, that your works may be seen, that your Father may be glorified. This has the praise of God, and they who do so come to answer that which God requires, to love mercy, do justly, and to walk humbly with God.
George Fox, Letter 200

The Lord is at hand, he is near you all, the kingdom of God is within you, the principle of God is within you, with which (if you mind it) he will break
the yoke of the oppressor within you and without you by the sword of justice, that’s his kingdom upon earth, put it not afar off, let it arise in your hearts, set it up above the will of man, let it shine in your hearts, let it speak in your courts, that which is of God in you all, which judges justly and with equity.
James Naylor, 1659

This is to me the hour of greatest joy I ever had in this world. No ear can hear, no tongue can utter, and no heart can understand the sweet incomes and the refreshings of the spirit of the Lord, which I now feel.
Mary Dyer, 1660

Oppression in the extreme appears terrible: but oppression in more refined appearances remains to be oppression; and where the smallest degree of it is cherished it grows stronger and more extensive. To labour for a perfect redemption from this spirit of oppression is the great business of the whole family of Christ Jesus in this world.
John Woolman, 1763 ‘A Plea for the Poor’

Laws and decrees shall be changed and renewed… Every yoke and burden shall be taken off from the neck of the poor; true judgment and justice, mercy and truth, peace and righteousness shall be exalted; and all the nations shall have judges as at the first and counselors as at the beginning…
We are not for Names, nor Men, nor Titles of Government, nor are we for this Party, nor against the other, because of its Name and Pretence; but we are for Justice and Mercy, and Truth and Peace, and true Freedom, that these may be exalted in our Nation.
Edward Burrough, 1659

Now Friends, you that are Slave-Keepers, I pray and beseech ye, examine your own Hearts, and see and feel too, if you have not the same answer from Truth now within; while you Preach and exhort others to Equity, and to do Justice and love Mercy, and to walk humbly before the Lord and his People, and you yourselves live and act quite contrary, behave proudly, do unjustly and unmercifully, and live in and encourage the grossest Iniquity in the whole World.
For I say, you are got beyond Gospel, Law, Abraham, Prophets, Patriarchs, to Cain the Murtherer, and beyond him too, to the Devil himself, beyond Cain, for he Murthered but one, that we know of but you have many Thousands, or caused ’em to be so, and for ought I know many Hundreds of Thousands, within 50 Years.
What do you think of these Things, you brave Gospel Ministers?
Benjamin Lay, 1738 All Slave-Keepers Apostates, p. 91-92

Does capital punishment tend to the security of the people? By no means. It hardens the hearts of men, and makes the loss of life appear light to them; it renders life insecure, inasmuch as the law holds out that Property is of greater value than life.
Elizabeth Fry, 1818

There is in public opinion a power much greater than that residing in any particular form of government. . . under the impulse of a great principle, with great labour and with great sacrifices, all those obstacles are overcome, so that out of a machine especially contrived for the contrary, justice and freedom are at length achieved for the nation.
John Bright, 1846

That laws of changeless justice bind
Oppressor with oppressed;
And, close as sin and suffering joined,
We march to Fate abreast.
John Greenleaf Whittier, 1861

Justice is of the Spirit, not of the outside world – but our understanding is so wrapped up in outward things that we can only grow spiritually by applying spiritual things to
material ones – there­fore we must be just though Nature is not’
Hilda Clark, 1908

We ought to be willing to work for causes which will not be won now, but cannot be won in the future unless the goals are staked out now and worked for energetically over a period of time.
E. Raymond Wilson, 1943

The uniqueness of early Friends lies not so much in the teaching of a divine Light within man as it does in the work and power that can be accomplished by that Light.
In our own day, however, we have attempted to put the early Quaker teaching of the Light within on a philosophical basis. We have placed this belief in a logical and philosophical framework that agrees with our own thinking. This has resulted in a large degree of failure to understand the true contribution that early Friends made. Nor has it enabled us to understand accurately what the Light meant to them…
We have hurried past the words about an ocean of darkness to the welcome metaphor of an ocean of light…
Our dream has been shattered for most of us today, but there are still some who, unwilling to face the truth of the magnitude of the catastrophe that has engulfed us, bravely whistle in the darkness of our age about the wonderful material advances that await us in the “world of tomorrow….”.
We wonder whether Jeremiah’s words may be applied to those who now forecast a brave new world – “They have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”
The seeds of racial, class and international struggle now being sown all over the world can only produce a new and more terrible harvest of sin and suffering. Though our faith remains steadfast in the ultimate victory of love over sin, we cannot but realize that an ocean of darkness covers our world now…
We attend meetings for worship and we please ourselves by self-given praise for our pure form of worship, but we have not known in those times of worship the soul-transforming power that results from utter obedience to the invading love of Christ…
So it is that God calls us, ever unwilling to let us be satisfied with even our half-goodness. The ocean of darkness is grim and terrifying in its power and extent, but the ocean of light, even Christ within, seeks to save and redeem us from that darkness. The result is war within ourselves, a basic conflict between selfishness and love. Unable to free ourselves of the ideals and visions which a divine light has planted within us, yet drawn inexorably toward sin, we find ourselves faced with an impossible tension, a moral dualism, which is profoundly disconcerting.
We speak of equality for all men because of the Light within, but we fail to give evidence that our words have meaning. Satisfied with mediocrity, contented with our comfortable plans for a secure future, pleased that our sins are seemingly small and overlooked by others who likewise do not desire complete purity, proud that we occasionally deny ourselves in order to contribute to some good cause, we continue to be weighty Friends and important people in our communities, but we have not known the life and power and spirit of those who have dared to be prophets of God…
Power is a key word in the early literature of the group, a word repeated hundreds of times.
They believed with profound intensity in the power of the Light within to redeem them completely from darkness and sin. God had become a living part of them…
All eternity is met in you as Christ asks you to become a partner with Him in the historic task of the redemption of our world from the ocean of darkness that claims it to the ocean of God’s dazzling, blinding light of divine love and perfection.
Cecil E. Hinshaw, 1945

In the America of today there are hills that for us can be Pendle Hills, if we are risen within ourselves. On earth there are more people than ever before, beset by more problems and a greater danger. We need, more than ever, that some seekers shall find, shall receive the light and love that liberates us from our ego-prisons, and works a resurrection.
God alone can lift man into His order, and impart the substance of the divine. To want less than this is to miss the high purpose of religion; is, for Friends, to disavow the origin and aim of their own testimonies; is, for any and every man to consign himself to the welter of evils and conflicts which can never be resolved save as we emerge from scarcity by receiving life from the sacred source within ourselves. We must advance towards new birth in the divine-human order.
May it come to pass through our struggles, our sufferings and joys, the little acts of service, the greater acts of heroism, our daily work, our devotions, our tragedies and triumphs . . . God grow us to Thee.
Jean Toomer, 1949

Let us each one take a good look at our own expectations — our own vision of the Kingdom of God. What sort of condition is the vision in? Is it good enough? Is it clear enough? We pride ourselves as a Society on our practical work for the Kingdom. Others may talk, but we are doing! And indeed, it is right that we should be doing. Many Friends are at this moment about their Father’s business in many parts of the world, and have little time to spare for sitting down and listening to lectures about it. But suppose someone should stop one of us tomorrow as we are going about our tasks, and say, “I hear you are working for the Kingdom of God. What is this Kingdom like? I want to know, because I might like to work for it too. I am not very satisfied with things as they are.” Very probably we should answer, “I’m so sorry, but I am already late for a committee meeting. Ask me some other time, won’t you?” And we would know in our hearts that we could not give an adequate answer. We are so immersed in “next-stepism” that we have no time to look at the vision on the far horizon.
And who does not know Jesus, the man who turned the Roman Empire upside down by simply ignoring it, and proclaiming and living a way of life so different from anything men then knew that it seemed utterly absurd? Other men through the ages have managed to ignore the rules of orderly social change and break right through to the Kingdom.
John Woolman took that leap into the future, and lived as if the Kingdom were already here. He could not have done so if he had not had a clear vision of that Kingdom. By his life, he brought it a little closer to the rest of the world than it had ever been before.
When we are spiritually liberated to live as if the Kingdom were already here, as we surely will be if we are faithful in prayer and seeking, it will slowly move in upon us from the horizon.
Elise Boulding, 1956

A Quaker social concern seems characteristically to arise in a sensitive individual or very small group … The concern arises as a revelation to an individual that there is a painful discrepancy between existing social conditions and what God wills for society and that this discrepancy is not being adequately dealt with. The next step is the determination of the individual to do something about it – not because he is particularly well fitted to tackle the problem, but simply because no one else seems to be doing it.
Dorothy H. Hutchinson, 1961

Without justice there is no peace; even in the absence of open strife there is no peace, only a manipulated lull in hostilities.
Justice has two connotations. One is fairness, righteous dealing, integrity; necessary, but not sufficient conditions for lasting peace. The other, to quote the Oxford English Dictionary, is observance of the divine law; righteousness; the state of being just before God.
When the bonding force of love unifies the two dimensions, the temporal and the spiritual, the task of the peacemaker is fulfilled. Truth has been established: true justice reigns.
Adam Curle, 1981

It is unlikely, therefore, that we shall debate each other, or our fellow citizens, into the ways of love.
For we touch people’s hearts not by what we debate with them about, but rather by the quality of our being – by who we are, and by how we live, and by what we do.
Thus, all of our merely verbal efforts in education or politics have meaning only insofar as they spring out of our own very direct experience of joyfully seeing what love can do in practice.
Daniel A. Seeger, 1986

…I must believe in love
As a testimony against madness
and war and broken promises.
I choose love…
Helen Morgan Brooks, 1990,
from ‘The Bus Comes’

Our equality testimony flows inevitably from our belief that there is that of God in every person. If we believe in Equality, we must work for Justice. British Friends remind us: ‘Are you alert to the practices throughout the world which discriminates against people on the basis of who or what they are, or because of their beliefs? Bear witness to the humanity of all people, including those who break society’s conventions or its laws. Try to discern new growing points in social and economic life. Seek to understand the causes of injustice, social unrest, and fear. Are you working to bring about a just and compassionate society which allows everyone to develop their capacities and fosters the desire to serve?
Beverly G. Ward, 2008

Can our Friends meetings be free of privilege and be a living sanctuary where all of God’s self is free to minister to us in all of her offices as teacher, priest, and prophet? Can our Friends meetings be those thin places in which our relationships, regardless of race or class, are a sacrament of grace and wholeness? Can our Friends meetings be the body and hands of the Holy Spirit in the world today?
Christina Repoley, 2006

Here we agree on one thing: that there is that of God in all of us. It seems a simple idea, but it is a revolutionary one.
In Quaker fashion, it is a simple idea of what justice means, and it is the beginning of any discernment on how we approach the injustice before us: one of inhumanity and economic insecurity, which in turn affects all of nature.
Injustice is what poverty of spirit looks and feels like… Let us sit in the sweet silence of truth and wait for that still, small voice to provide us with the sustenance we need. Like manna from heaven, let us eat from the table of discernment until we are able to spring forward as examples of justice, not just in words or letters but in deeds.
The moment for spiritual justice is now, and it begins in the present action that springs forth out of the silence of wisdom and discernment.
Nicole Freeman, 2020

When many are content with right thinking and fewer are drawn toward right acting, one must wonder what success has done to our witness… Despite our toned-down bearing, the long-standing commitment to social justice has not waned for many of us…
We also know that the Spirit is a terrible thing to waste. The intent of letting “justice roll down like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24) is not so that it can pool like a wind free pond.
Leaning on vicarious glow from spiritual ancestors will not move the social justice agenda.
All of us are called to do our part.
Dwight Wilson, 2014