Human extinction, rebellion and Quaker principles: the importance of para 35

“Respect the laws of the state but let your first loyalty be to God’s purposes. If you feel impelled by strong conviction to break the law, search your conscience deeply. Ask your meeting for the prayerful support which will give you strength as a right way becomes clear” – Advices & Queries para #35

Ali Morgan writes

I have decided to join the Extinction Rebellion (Me too: Ed). I hope you will too.

Wednesday saw the launch of a non-violent rebellion. Hundreds of people met in Parliament Square with speakers including Quaker MEP for the south west Molly Scott-Cato. They made a Declaration of non-violent Rebellion Against the British Government For Criminal Inaction in the Face of Climate Change Catastrophe and Ecological Collapse.

Molly writes in The Guardian

So how have we have reached a situation where a law maker like me feels there is no alternative but to become a law breaker? Here my Quaker heritage is helpful. Our thin pamphlet of theological guidance includes the useful advice: “Respect the laws of the state but let your first loyalty be to God’s purposes.”

As a Quaker, I don’t believe that spiritual wisdom resides in books or rituals but in the still, small voice that tells you when something must change. When the inward light, that I believe we all have within us, prompts you to stand up to a fascist bully or to engage in civil disobedience to halt climate breakdown, you have no choice but to follow.

The latest scientific reports are stark. We are in an era of mass extinction and fast approaching the point of return. If we don’t act NOW we all have a very bleak future. Our government is doing nothing!

Climate change did not even get a mention in the Chancellor’s budget on Monday whilst he gave away billions in tax breaks to fossil fuel companies.

Our neoliberal economic structures are at the root of the environmental disaster we are facing and they are at the root of many of the other issues I care passionately about.  Inequality has reached extreme levels in countries around the world and Britain has one of the highest levels. Fascism is lifting its ugly head again all over the world, most recently in Brazil. The arms trade drives our UK economy and our government props up appalling regimes in Israel and Saudi Arabia, to profit the powers that be, whilst the children of Palestine, Syria and Yemen pay a terrible price.

The Extinction Rebels come from all walks of life: not just Quakers, but they will be following the good Quaker tradition of non-violent action including being willing to break the law if necessary.

I have decided to join them and I hope you will too.

What to do next:

Read Molly Scott-Cato’s article in the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/31/law-breaker-save-planet-direct-action-civil-disobedience

Read the guidance on the Extinction Rebellion webpage: https://extinctionrebellion.org/

Photo of the Extinction Rebellion from Commom Dreams.

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