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February 23, 2011

No peace without until peace within

Howard Brinton writes, in the introduction to The Guide to True Peace:

But how, the activist will ask, can we heal a sick world when we are advised to "retire from all outward objects and silence all desires in the profound silence of the whole soul" (p.2)? The answer is that there is no peace without until there is peace within.

A man who is inwardly disordered will infect all about him with his inner disorder. John Woolman, a New Jersey tailor of the eighteenth century, followed without reservation the type of religion portrayed in The Guide to True Peace, yet he was one of the world's greatest social reformers. When he went about persuading the Quakers, a hundred years before the Civil War, to give up their slaves, he did not say much about suffering and injustice. He simply pointed out to the slaveholders that they felt no inner peace.

The history of the Society of Friends shows that almost always this search for inner peace is the dynamic of Quaker pioneering in social reform. True peace comes, not by inaction but in letting God act through us. (x)