The Quaker Tapestries

 

The charming town of Kendal, situated at the southern end of the Lake District, is home to the Quaker Tapestries, a series of 77 tapestries describing the history of the Quaker movement.The panels, crafted by over 4,000 men, women and children from fifteen countries, tell the story of the Quaker movement from its foundation by George Fox in 1652 to the present day, but in addition to the history they celebrate the ideas and ideals of the Quaker movement.†††† (seewww.quaker-tapestry.co.uk)

 

In the early days dissidence was cruelly dealt with.To preach in the open, as George Fox did, was a serious offence, and Fox was gaoled for four years for doing so.Readers will be aware of the Quaker philosophy, which involves a direct relationship to God without human intermediaries, and so likely to enrage both established Church and State. Those whose sturdy self-reliance bypasses both State and Church mind control were regarded as potential troublemakers, and so were severely dealt with.The tapestries tell of Quakers who died in prison, whose only offence was refusal to acknowledge the authority of Church and State where such authority contravened their strict moral principles.And these moral principles are such as we can readily agree with.The only problem is that the great majority of us compromise our principles, bending them a little or even a lot, when it becomes inconvenient to adhere strictly to them.Quakers are unbendable.

 

The Quakers I have met have been immensely strong where matters of right and wrong are concerned, yet they donít parade their strength.Those I have met have been gentle, quiet and charming.I had the great good fortune to go with Quakers to Faslane.When in the cold misty morning of a Scottish November the group were met by police at the South Gate, the officer in charge warned the group they could protest on the pavement all day, but if they ventured onto the road, they would be arrested.The lady spokesman smiled and said that they had come all the way from London in order to be arrested.The police allowed the human blockade for a good half-hour before moving in to arrest the group, and treated them with the greatest respect after they had done so.

 

Some mottos worked into the tapestries:

v    Speak truth to power.

v    Alliances are dangerous things.I would not advise alliances with any nation but would cultivate friendship with all nations.

v    True peace cannot be dictated.It can only be built in cooperation between all peoples.

v    Be willing that self shall suffer for truth, and not truth for self.

 

The media are full of stories of manís inhumanity to man, so much so that any reflective person may come to the conclusion that man is a scarcely tamed beast, indeed crueller and less reflective than any animal.The reflex murders that occur so often, when the actor must know full well that the punishment will be certain and entail years in prison, demonstrate not only cruelty but stupidity and a blind overmastering rage.The Quakers are a wonderful antidote to the despairing state of mind induced by such stories.You canít help but be reminded of Mirandaís comment:

O brave new world!

That has such people in it!

Harry Davis