John Woolman was a layperson who stood up to his fellow Quakers on issues of slavery, poverty, and the just treatment of all people. He was particularly concerned for those whose voice was not heard in general society. He traveled widely, for his day, with the intention of spreading his message. He often found himself in situations where he had to wrestle with his beliefs and the conventions of his day. If he found the only place of lodging was in a home that owned slaves, he would find a way to compensate the slaves for their labor while talking to the residents about the incompatibility between faith and slave ownership.
In 1964 he wrote a pamphlet called Empathy. In it he speaks of the injustice of consumption. As the rich demand more and more for less and less money, the poor, who provide these goods and services, suffer. I thought this essay was applicable some 200+ years later. As Americans who consume, consum, consume, what is our consumption doing to our planet and our fellow human beings who work for little pay so we can have the stuff we want? Are we willing to sacrifice a little for the sake of all?
But consider the condition of those we are depressed in answering our demands and labor for us out of our sight while we pass our time in fullness. Consider also that much less than we demand would supply us with things really useful. What heart will not relent? How can reasonable people refrain from easing suffering of which they themselves are the cause, when they may do so without inconvenience?