One of the most fundamental testimonies of Friends is that of simplicity. We try to live in ways that are devoid of complexity. Whether it’s in the personal, professional, or social realm, Friends strive towards minimalism, buoyed by the belief that a life lived simply is a life lived truthfully. So why do so many Friends support an ever-expanding government? While the majority of us do indeed advocate for a limited American presence overseas, there seems to be little or no appetite amongst most Friends to limit the power of the state here at home. Why the inconsistency? Furthermore, why do Friends seek simplicity in their own lives but not in society as a whole?
Most Friends seem convinced that the apparatus of the state is the best tool capable of creating a society consistent with Quaker values. They believe the state is a necessary means in achieving equality, peace, community, and stewardship in our society. Sadly, it appears that many Friends doubt the ability of the human race to willingly and voluntarily work towards fostering these values. How can we preach to the world that there is that of God in everyone and simultaneously show such little faith in one another? Why do we believe it necessary to use the power of the state to force our neighbors into compliance? Have we so little confidence in the ways of persuasion, and in the transformative power of witness, ministry, and the inward Light that we must rely on the threat of force on the part of the state to change the world? And if so, exactly what kind of world will we create that requires the application of such an aggressive power structure?