Chapter 23 » 23.78

The individual and the community


We seek to affirm in each child at school, each member of the meeting, each person we meet in our daily lives, the person that he or she may with God’s help grow to be. We are all the merest infants in God’s world, struggling to stand upright and walk unaided, trying in vain to articulate our halting thoughts and feelings. We stumble and fall. We give way to self-pity and shame. God hauls us to our feet again and makes sense of our childish babble, never ceasing to believe in what we may ultimately become. Do we do the same for our children and one another? We have a responsibility to follow Pierre Ceresole’s dictum: ‘Speak to every child as if you were addressing the utterly truthful upright individual which under your guidance he may one day become’. Our Quaker witness demands of us that we ‘respect children very much more than they respect themselves’.

When we find ourselves teaching – as we all do in our relationships within meeting – can we draw upon that respect for one another and faith in one another’s potential that will enable the other to feel taller and more capable? At Rufus Jones’s memorial meeting one of his students simply said: ‘He lit my candle’. That is a high aim for us all to aspire to in educating ourselves and our young people.

Barbara Windle, 1988

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