No one knows better than a person of German ancestry the shame at disgust. Whether idleness when there is work to be done or laziness when things need to be cleaned and put away, the disgust of waste shames those who do not suffer inactivity well. But from whence has Quakerism's penchant for activism arisen? 

Is it derived from a puritanical ancestry and its ethic of work? Is it a natural balance to what seems like inactivity in our worship? Or, is it shame at our disgust of inequality and injustice?

In any case, Gandhi's prediction for activism holds true: "...our progress toward the goal will be in exact proportion to the purity of our means." Certainly, though a means of our evolutionary survival as a species, shame, disgust, and especially guilt are not pure motives for Quaker action in the world.

Just speak with any psychologist who works with members of Religious Orders; or, consider the pastor who admits that he does not know whether the many things he does each day are the result of his own compulsion or true/pure zeal for souls. As the Gospel records, to rise in the middle of the night to attend to someone in need at your door is encouraging; but to do so because you forgot to wipe the kitchen counter or organize your work for the morrow is disgustingly shameful.

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Comment by James C Schultz on 5th mo. 20, 2013 at 11:37pm

I would suggest we have to look no further than Paul's letter to the Galatians:

Gal 5:22:But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Gal 5:23:  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Gal 5:24:  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Gal 5:25:  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Gal 5:26:   Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

As verse 25 says if we reach the point in our faith journey where God's love permeates our being, we should start walking in that Love and the result will be what in a self-centered world will look like activism.

As we draw closer to God we become more loving and a compassion wells up within us for our fellow man and that compassion leads us to act in ways that seek to help those we see in need.


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