Peace, goodwill and Quaker advice on understanding each other better

picture via Sky News

On 25 December Elizabeth Windsor called on the country to overcome ‘deeply held differences’, saying:

Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding.

With our experience of centuries of conflict, can faith groups help? Some core Quakers insights in our Advices & Queries may be relevant to the Queen’s message. For example, we’re advised to ask ourselves:

Are you honest and truthful in all you say and do?”

In what ways are you involved in the work of reconciliation between individuals, groups and nations?”

These questions come from the succinct text of Advices & Queries (all online here, together with 28 more chapters of insights in our volume of Faith and Practice). Further from the same source:

Avoid hurtful criticism and provocative language

Do not allow the strength of your convictions to betray you into making statements or allegations that are unfair or untrue

Think it possible that you may be mistaken.

This advice is straightforward enough. Are these principles broadly acceptable? Would they be hard to follow? Would our national dialogue be refreshed, and perhaps more effective if they were widely followed? Would that contribute to healing the divisions the Queen speaks of?

It’s hard to engage with people we fundamentally disagree with, but we’re called to try. Friends are encouraged to

be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach…and to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one

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