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of Friends From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The Religious Society of Friends is a group of religious people, who have joined together because they have similar beliefs. People in the Society of Friends are called "Friends" or Quakers - both mean the same thing. The Society is very different from other religious groups. The first Quakers were Christians but the religion today includes some other people who are not Christian. They live all over the world, but the largest groups are in Bolivia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Almost all Quakers share these beliefs: • Everybody has an "inner light" that tells them what they should do. The inner light comes from God. • Everybody should try to do what God wants. • Quakers should try not to hurt other people. • Quakers should listen to what other people say, even if they think something completely different. • Quakers should tell the truth, and not lie. • Quakers should not spend a lot of money on themselves, or wear clothes that make them look rich. When Quakers say "inner light", they do not mean that there is really a light bulb inside them. They use the phrase "inner light" to mean something else, which they might find difficult to find words to explain. Other words that Quakers use to mean similar things include "God", "spirit" and "love". Quakers think that the truth is very important. They believe that it is wrong to make an oath or promise. This is because they think people should tell the truth all the time. Making a promise shows that they are trying to be more truthful than normal. Instead, Quakers believe that they should simply say what they are going to do. This is another idea that has caused problems. Governments often want people to promise that they will be loyal to the country. In a court, people have to promise that they will tell the truth. Quakers refuse to do these things. Several countries now say that Quakers do not have to make oaths, but in the past Quakers were put in prison for not making oaths. Today, Quakers can sometimes make an "affirmation" instead. The word "affirm" hints that whatever is being affirmed has already been said, or thought. This means that they have to say out loud what they are going to do. For example, in court they might say "I affirm that I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth". Other people would have to say "I swear" instead of "I affirm". Many courts ask those testifying if they "swear or affirm to tell the truth," this covers Quakers as well as non-Quakers, because people who aren't Quakers also believe some of the same things as Quakers. Hello Jean: Let's see, you asked me about Quakers and Quakerism. I'll have to go back a number of years to the days of my youth. Around the age of 15 I was a rather spunky teenager and one night I had a couple of chicks over and things lead to things. Well, I'm sure you understand. My father found me half naked in bed with these two babes, we weren't doing anything. We were just in bed, plain and simple. He attacked me with a baseball bat and almost murdered me. So I went on the road at a rather young age, I had to
keep away from him. After getting picked up by the goons (cops) in Kentucky, the old man came out and got me. So we get back home and the old folks didn't know what to do with me. Somebody mentioned a Quaker school in Leesburg, VA. That's where I spent the next two years. It wasn't a bad school at all, now that I'm thinking about it in the past tense. I met people like myself, misfits from society and the ones who were abused somewhere in life or one step from prison. It was run by the Quakers and one of my dorm consulars was a two tour Viet Nam vet named Stuart. He had a wife and a daughter and we lived in a dorm with about ten other students. Some of them also came from violent households. But Stuart and Marcia (Stuart's wife) were really decent people and they taught me a lot about the Peace movement of the 70's. A lot of the other teachers were Peacenik's. Basically a bunch of hippie's living on a 200 acre farm which was the school. Stuart was one of the kindest people I met at the school and I often miss him and Marcia so much. That school has always stayed on the back of my mind. Remember Jean, I was an anti-war protester when I was just 16 years old. But thru the years, sadly some of their beliefs fell short and I was involved with many street fights and barroom stuff. Riding the rails was also very violent and more then once I had to fight. While I really didn't like fighting, I always wanted to be able to defend myself. Face it, it's a very violent world out there and that prison rape taught me that no one else is going to come to my help. So I've learned now at this age, it's better to avoid violence but always be prepared to defend myself. No one is ever going to hurt me like they did to me in that jail cell again. But the words of Stuart, who himself went thru a living hell in Viet Nam keep ringing in my ears. And the thoughts of my youth spent at the school always remain with me. While there have been other influence's in my life pertaining to Pacifism and Quakerism, Stuart was the strongest.
So Stuart left the school (and Marcia) and later got himself a law degree here in Virginia. But he didn't stay in Virginia; he left for Los Angles and became a public defender. He had a lot of money behind him and could have stayed in Virginia and worked for a high dollar law firm. But he didn't, he spent the rest of his working career defending poor people. He was a man to admire. Stuart hated the government and he always said that he didn't like the way it treated poor people. Viet Nam had a major impact on him and the world the way he saw it. So I guess that he felt Quakerism was the best way to forget his violent past in Viet Nam. It takes a strong man to admit he was wrong. He said he regretted signing up for the second tour of duty. The first tour he got drafted. After I left Glaydin (the name of the school) I went to college, but had some major problems dealing with that jailhouse rape. I became a hardcore juicer (a common drunk) and was one off an on for another 15, 20 years. It often landed me in jail over booze related 'offenses'. I could never understand why those people did that to me. I wanted revenge on all those people, since forcible sodomy is a Capital Offense in Virginia; I thought that I had the right to destroy those two men. But the
teachings of nonviolence and Glaydin often got in my way. I was in a constant state of confusion and both physical and mental pain. But they say God see's everything, I didn't have to act on my wishes of vengeance. About 2 years after I got hurt, one of the jailers was murdered behind the Arlington County Courthouse. It seems that I wasn't the only one they had hurt. About ten years later, the other jailer found me hanging around the local 7/11 and came up to me. He said "You know who I am, don't you?" "Yes, I remember you" controlling every part of my body from just reaching over and grabbing his throat and killing him. At that point in my life I was pretty strong and could have very easily murdered him. But I didn't. I said to him "I heard your partner didn't make the trip". He started to laugh, thinking what I had just said was funny. I quickly changed the tone of my voice and almost got to an animalistic state of mind. I hated that son-of-a-bitch so bad. But I couldn't kill him. Then he notice how pissed off I was getting and started to back away. I said to him ”You want the same fate as your pal?” He said "No". At this point I literally shaking, I hated him and wanted to kill him so bad. But Glaydin, Stuart and Quakerism flashed into my mind and I couldn't do it. The asshole left and I never saw him again. So Jean, that is one of my stories pertaining to pacifism and the quiet art of being a Quaker and an American monk. But it goes on and on for most of my adult life. Sincerely, John Brutza
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