Suffering appals me, especially when the terrible things we do to each are done in the name of religion. To me, this is blasphemy. I can see how easy it must be for strong forceful characters to persuade others down the wrong paths. There is also that human characteristic that if you are doing something wrong, it never seems quite so bad if you can get others to support you. Through knowing how bad and divisive human beings can be, how we get so narrow minded in our perspective and preoccupied with power, I am very glad that Quakers have always emphasised the importance of communicating with God direct.
This morning I am thinking of Iraq, in particular the many images distributed through national media of so many young men being led away to execution. One of them was wearing a football shirt, with an well known player's name on the back. It seemed only a few days ago he would have been following his team, using the example of this player as a role model. Yesterday he died for religion. Whilst families in this country were celebrating Fathers' Day, I was thinking of families not so very different to my own which through war were now steadily becoming smaller.
Although so much of the suffering that takes place goes unnoticed or unmarked, we are all I believe, loved and known in all our abilities, situations, thoughts and deeds through being without exception Children of God. It is a quite remarkable opportunity being human. When confronted however by the evidence of what we can do to each other, I think Quakers should find themselves challenged. We are not entitled to create divisions and disharmony among ourselves through holding different perspectives on the Truth. Where there is conflict, we have a responsibility to look at it honestly, and then, in the words of William Penn,
"See what love can do."
Whilst kids in football shirts are being shot in the name of religion, I do not think we should ever believe ourselves entitled to take our peace testimony as a soft option. Instead we have a massive responsibility to live our lives as a pattern, showing absolute confidence that the Source and power of all love is supreme.
A few days ago this news story captured my attention.
Through #MyLibya I can understand what George Fox meant by describing how
"I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness."
Perhaps those of you reading my blog will feel able to support those living in communities that are not so fortunate as their own. Wherever our starting point might be, I would like to think we are prepared to set an example of the values we consider important, our religion in all its diversity is sincere, and that whatever situation we are in, love has the final say.
These days it does not seem all that important that I write as the "Secret Quakers". Names are given to us at birth, usually by our parents. The reasons for their choice could well seem quite random, something they liked the sound of, to honour a relation, the prevailing fashion, or even the actual meaning. Most of us have the uncomfortable knowledge that you have been named after someone else, ideally a reputable person! However hard expectant couples scan the dictionaries in search of ideas, none of our names are unique. Some of us have an unfortunate tendency to forget names the moment you are introduced, almost as if other characteristics about that person matter more. Even among those closest to you, names can get confused. I remember at one time my four year old getting very cross with me because I had just called her and instead the dog came running!
Instead of relying upon our names, I think it would be more honest and more accurate to accept that those whom we choose to love make us who we are.