My favorite EA blogger tells the story of an early abolitionist. 

The subtitle, "somewhat in favor of guilt", is better than any summary I'd write.

John Woolman would probably be mad at me for writing a post about his life. He never thought his life mattered.

Partially, he hated the process of traveling: the harshness of life on the road; being away from his family; the risk of bringing home smallpox, which terrified him.

But mostly it was the task being asked of Woolman that filled him with grief. Woolman was naturally "gentle, self-deprecating, and humble in his address", but he felt called to harshly condemn slaveowning Quakers. All he wanted was to be able to have friendly conversations with people who were nice to him. But instead, he felt, God had called him to be an Old Testament prophet, thundering about God’s judgment and the need for repentance.

I don’t think you get John Woolman without the scrupulosity. If someone is the kind of person who sacrifices money, time with his family, approval from his community, his health—in order to do a thankless, painful task that goes against all of his instincts for how to interact with other people, with no sign of success—

—a task that, if it advanced abolition only in Pennsylvania by even a single year, prevented nearly 7,000 years of enslavement, and by any reasonable estimate prevented thousands or tens of thousands more—

Well, someone like that is going to be extra about the non-celebration of Christmas.




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Amazing blog about an incredible person thank you!

I'm trying to think of modern day equivalents that might doggedly stick to their socially extreme ethical beliefs even if they are wildly against the status quo. Perhaps Greta Thunburg is one that comes to mind?

Another might be Dr. Edric Baker, a Kiwi catholic doc who spent most of his life living on 300 dollars a month, living in one room while running a hospital in rural Bangladesh

Perhaps most of us aren't cut out for this kind of life, but I think there's a lot to learn from these people, both to be inspired by their uncompromising lives and even to help us see new ideas and causes on the margins we may have otherwise missed.

The book Strangers drowning is great and includes profiles of a bunch of these people. It's ultimately fairly agnostic about whether they are doing the right thing (it emphasises the extreme upper end of altruists), but there are moments of inspiration in most of the stories for people committed to doing good. 

I really liked the book.

Second recommendation due this in a week, definitely going to read thanks so much

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