the friend online
02 February 2007


Acting under Concern: my own experience - preview

In 12 January, Janette M Denley said Friends no longer tested Concerns enough before acting upon them. Here, Simon Risley recalls the process he went through

For a long time I've had a slight sense of unease about Concerns
  • I'm not entirely sure that everyone quite understands them
  • There seems an increasingly prevalent atmosphere within the Society whereby many think, because they feel strongly about a matter, that it's therefore a Concern

  • It quite simply isn't
  • For example, were I to feel strongly about the immorality of nuclear weapons and decided to join the protest at Faslane, it would be very easy to ascribe my behaviour to 'Acting under Concern'
  • But it wouldn't be
  • I would merely be acting under a strong sense of personal morality
  • Unless, of course, that planned course of action was first tested – and agreed as being a Concern – by my Monthly Meeting

  • Simon Risley

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    Janet Toye, 21 February
    At the end of Simon Risley's very interesting article about the Orkney 'Satanic Abuse' affair - I did not know about Friends' action - he questions whether he is right to believe that his action was laid upon him by God. He can easily imagine that people who do things he disagrees with entirely, for instance suicide bombers, also believe they are acting according to God's will.

    It doesn't seem enough to say that because he tested his concern within his Monthly Meeting he had some kind of guarantee that it wasn't just a personal concern that was misguided. Suicide bombers are supported in their action by fellow religionists too.

    What it comes down to in the end is what set of values one chooses to espouse, what kind of world one wants, and what kind of behaviour one thinks is likely to help sustain that kind of world. Personal experience, the culture we've grown up in, and the ways in which we think about ideas in my opinion all influence the kind of God in which a person believes.

    Does this mean that one person's God is as good as another's? I'm prepared to say that the kind of God Simon Risley believes in is highly preferable to the vengeful variety. That is what it seems to me is implied by 'taking heed of love and truth'. But I can't prove it. It's a question of 'here I stand'.


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    International Edition: Letter from Iran
    Emily Johns
    Country of the Week: South Korea

    News round-up
    Doomsday Clock moves two minutes closer to midnight
    Acting under Concern: my own experience
    Simon Risley
    Richard Hilken & Michael Woolliscroft
    Population – two views
    Roger Plenty & Volker Heine
    Learning to live with mental illness
    Peter Ells
    The pulse of truth
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    Quaker mysticism: a bridge to Islam
    Reg Naulty
    Whittier at 200
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    Putting testimony to the test
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    International Edition: Quakers enter Korea (1953)
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    International Edition: 509 messages from Friends in Korea (1973)

    International Edition: Comments on Friends' activities in the Republic of Korea (1960)
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