The Enduring Strength of Quakerism - Douglas Heath

I fear that many Friends schools and colleges [and meetings? ed.], not guarded by a strong inner certainty about the real strength of their religious tradition, may be too open to such cultural forces that could undermine the power of their tradition to leaven the insistent individualistic and anarchistic demands of the times. As anarchic as Friends may appear to others, Friends are severely, and sometimes too severely, self-disciplined persons who do not countenance a laissez faire morality. What is the enduring psychological strength of Quakerism? Contrary to what many students in Friends schools would like to believe (a belief some adroitly use by which to rationalize their attacks on any communal responsibilities), the strength of Quakerism does not lie in its emphasis on the right—in fact the duty—of each person to search for truth in his own way, to follow his own inner guidance. Meeting for worship, our institutionalized witness to such an experience, is, despite its anarchistic appearance to others, an effort to experience a divine corporateness. Nor does the strength of the Quaker tradition lie in its emphasis on the binding allocentric ties or social responsibility of one person to another—an emphasis we institutionalize, for example, in the American Friends Service Committee.
The enduring strength of Quakerism lies in the reciprocal and integral combination of both its individualistic and communal traditions. One emphasis without the other produces a caricature of Quakerism.
—Douglas Heath, Why a Friends School? To Educate for Today's Needs, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #164 (1969), page 7. Emphasis added.

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