Excerpt from “Fundamental Ends of Life” by Rufus Jones


The world has been passing–is still passing–through a period of agony and confusion. Everybody knows, dimly or clearly, that some deep-lying and baffling ailment has fallen upon large sections of the human family and that nobody seems able to discover either a sound diagnosis of the disease or a potent remedy for it. All who have worked at the problems of the age have been like a person trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle when, without his knowing it, a lot of the pieces of the picture are lost and the puzzle will not go together.

The main difficulty has been that men have been looking for economic and political solutions while all the time the trouble is deeper than that, and the remedy, too, must go deeper. Like those old Babylonians who built their civilization out of their own inner nature, so we, too, have built our confused world out of our ambitions, our selfishness, our fears, our hates, our suspicions, our greeds, and our rivalries. If we are ever to rebuild the world we must first of all begin to build it by reconstructing our own inner spirits. The most important first step is the formation within us of a sounder faith in God and man, a surer apprehension of the available spiritual resources at hand, and a profounder confidence in the silent healing forces of life and love. We have been looking in the wrong place for the path out of our wilderness wanderings. We have witnessed in many ways a great intensification of desire for possessions, for wealth, for economic assets, and we see going on around us almost everywhere . . .

Rufus Matthew Jones (January 25, 1863 – June 16, 1948) was an American writer, magazine editor, philosopher, and college professor. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Haverford Emergency Unit (a precursor to the American Friends Service Committee). One of the most influential Quakers of the 20th century, he was a Quaker historian and theologian as well as a philosopher. He is the only person to have delivered two Swarthmore Lectures.  (Wikipedia.org)

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