I’ve been surrounded by Quakerism since I was about three years old. From preschool through fifth grade, I attended Goshen Friends School. Then I started attending Westtown School, another Quaker private school, where I’m currently in ninth grade. Quaker values and SPICES were always integrated into both of my schools’ curriculums. At Westtown, I attend meeting for worship every week, learn about the history of Quakerism in classes, and witness as well as participate in meeting for business. I am not a Quaker myself nor part of any other religion, but I love learning about the role of religion in the world and throughout history. Quakerism is a religion that I respect greatly, and I agree with many of its values. Even though I have known about the Quaker testimonies for years, I had yet to apply one to a major life decision until just recently.
I have always been interested in current events, news, politics, and science. The 2016 election and its repercussions sparked my interest in government and in standing up for what I believe in on a national level. I started going to political rallies and marches toward the end of the election and in its aftermath. One of the main issues I care about is climate change and environmental protection. Climate change is a vitally important issue that needs to be addressed worldwide. After hearing claims on the news that climate change is a hoax, I felt that it was necessary to voice my opinion to our government. Then I found out about the People’s Climate March scheduled for April 29, 2017, in Washington, D.C., and this is when the Quaker testimony of stewardship fused with my beliefs and actions.
What I learned about protecting the environment through the testimony of stewardship at Goshen Friends and Westtown influenced my decision to go to the march, let my voice be heard, and stand up for what I believe in. I went with my mother on a large bus filled with protesters who were all headed to the march. When we arrived in Washington, D.C., a large portion of the National Mall was packed with energized environmental activists. While we were gathering, I got to talk to and observe people of all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, and religions, who were present for one reason: to be stewards of the Earth. Once the march started, I got to see the beauty of activism, stewardship, and Quakerism working together. Here were thousands of people all marching together in peaceful agreement on an issue that was important to them. People were carrying signs representing many different aspects of stewardship, including animal rights, nature conservation, climate change awareness, anti-pollution, and anti-oil drilling.
The march went around the National Mall, down Pennsylvania Avenue, and ended at the White House. We chanted and held up our signs as we marched through the streets of Washington. The events lasted all day, and it was one of the most fun and inspiring activities I have ever participated in. When the march ended, I felt very satisfied for taking a stand for what I believe in and for being able to use what I have been taught and apply it to something in the larger community. While not everyone was Quaker at the march, the Quaker testimony of stewardship has the power to extend its reach to people of all religions and even those without religion. This day will stick with me all my life, and it is certainly not the last march I will attend.