Friends have long-standing testimonies on peace, simplicity, equality, community and integrity. These testimonies have been proclaimed not in words but by the way Friends have lived out the details of their lives: in plain speech and plain dress, in refusal to do hat honor, swear oaths, or gamble; in the avoidance of violence as a means of dealing with conflict, and in prison ministry and myriad other ways.
In this century, rapid growth in population, technology and industry have been accompanied by resource depletion and environmental pollution. These societal changes lead us, members of Friends Committee on Unity with Nature, to express our deep concern for ecological sustainability, or sustainable living, as an emerging testimony, and to seek the Light as to how to carry it out in the details of daily life.
There is overlap in the meanings and practices of our Quaker testimonies. FCUN believes that sustainability is a concept that relates to all our testimonies, relates each of them to the future, and helps to weave them together in our lives. Peace without equality, or community without sustainability, or sustainability without simplicity, tend to become meaningless; each enriches the others in a prophetic way that challenges our work in society and our care for the earth.
On a spiritual level there is abundance to sustain us: abundance of compassion and love, abundance of giving, healing, and thanksgiving. On a physical level, we can start moving toward a recognition of this by working toward sustainability.
Sustainability as a concept has recently acquired new spiritual depth of meaning to include a resolve to live in harmony with biological and physical systems, and to work to create social systems that can enable us to do that. It includes a sense of connectedness and an understanding of the utter dependence of human society within the intricate web of life; a passion for environmental justice and ecological ethics; an understanding of dynamic natural balances and processes; and a recognition of the limits to growth due to finite resources. Our concern for sustainability recognizes our responsibility to future generations, to care for the earth as our won home and the home of all that dwell herein. We seek a relationship between human beings and the earth that is mutually enhancing.
Let us ask the Spirit for the clarity to recognize the ways we may be nourishing the seeds of ecological destruction, and for the strength to make the choices that will nourish seeds of change, so that sustainability and the integrity of Creation will be a visible aspect of Friends' testimony everywhere. We encourage Friends to proceed with Divine guidance, with love, and with a commitment for action on the above principles in our daily lives. Let us be called to take meaningful steps to respond to the disproportionate distribution of the earth's resources; to minimize the effects of cultures of affluence and over-consumption; and to strive for ecologically and economically regenerative communities with a creative simplicity -- to be at peace in this sacred place, our Earth. With humility, we invite Friends and their meetings to join in this transformation, "Let our lives speak . . . ."
Approved October 12, 1998.
-Friends Committee on Unity with Nature/Sustainability Committee
published in Friends Journal, v. 45 no. 2, Feb., 1999, pp. 26-27. In the same issue, pp. 11-14, see also Keith Helmuth's article "What do we know by how we live?" on John Woolman and the ecological vision.
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