I’m told by some with first-hand experience that Quakers – like any other gathering of human persons – are sometimes given to argument and bad feeling. Nonetheless, wisdom often arises from their foundational willingness to start from the first principle of silence unless and until something of significance arises as potential shared offering.
Too much talk beats some souls, mine included, to death. Occasional sightings of BBC Parliament invariably raise a smile as I observe battle weary “honourable members” and “noble lords” struggling to stay awake on the benches. There are times when I find reading newspapers or watching tv news just too exhausting – and depressing – especially when, as seems to be the case the world-over just now, the “news” involves someone bashing someone else.
So Robert Lawrence Smith’s Quaker Book of Wisdom has been a tonic for an hour or so today. Amongst “some of the life lessons that I wish someone had shared with me when I was growing up” he offers (page 167)
9. Look for the light of God in every person
It’s easy to see people’s dark side – their petty greeds and prejudices, their selfishness and fear. The challenge that defines our humanity is seeing the divine in other people. In the only sense that really matters, we are all equal; there is that of God in every person. A Quaker of an earlier age asked: “Now that thou knowest, what wilt thou do?” The answer comes as quietly and naturally as the sun’s daily rising: Follow the light within; improve yourself and the world, “as way opens.”
Robert Lawrence Smith
A Quaker Book of Wisdom
Indeed, many important answers arise “quietly and naturally” when we’re not being bombarded with “exclusive scoop” hot air. I’m incorrigibly in favour of the cool pathways of quietness as I live and look daily – for the light.