Working Together on the Hard Stuff

Quakers have kept thorough records of their members and of their meetings. The minutes of their meetings contain language that is stiff by today’s standards. After reading many pages of these minutes I suspect their choice of words was quite deliberate.

I have written before about the purposeful use of loving and affectionate terms of endearment. Recently I am impressed by the word “laboured.” When a member ceased attending meetings, exhibited bad behavior (such as fornication or excessive consumption of liquor) or were reluctant to manumit their slaves, others from the Society of Friends were appointed to labour with the transgressing Friend.

I love this concept. Use of the word “Labour”, with its acknowledgement that changing the attitudes and behaviors of individuals or of a community is hard work, and it’s accompanied by recognition that the support and influence of others in the community can make a difference in effecting that change.

[edited to add: based on reading minutes from 1773 to 1791 of the Perquimans, North Carolina Eastern Quarterly Meeting of the Society of Friends, or Quakers]


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