John Woolman’s essay “A Plea for the Poor” provides a starting point for Dan Seeger’s reflections in this pamphlet, was a vigorous argument for justice and equality in economic relations. Thus, according to the author, if the universalist principles of Quaker belief extend an inner light and a spirit of love to all humankind, then certainly in today’s global world the ethics of Quakerism must extend to global economy. Seeger both reminds and makes the reader aware, therefore, that Friends from George Fox’s generations and beyond have questioned the moral crime of making human beings (as distinct from human labor) into a marketable commodity.
During the 20th century, Friends were deeply influenced by Gandhi’s concept of nonviolent resistance as a tool for social and political change. They have been less sympathetic to his ideas on technology, although as Sibley makes clear, those ideas were rooted in Gandhi’s religious beliefs and in a testimony of simplicity not unlike that of traditional Quakers.