Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quaker Cross - a Symbol for Compassion?

I ran into this modern symbol of the Society of Friends or Quakers. It is called a Quaker cross. It was first used by relief workers, as a symbol on their arms, by British Quakers in the Franco Prussian war in 1870-1871. It was also used as an armband for British conscientious objectors in WWI who did non-armed battlefield services.

The symbol above was adopted as the official symbol of the American Friends Service Committee in 1917. The variaton shown above is from the Australian Friends relief agency.

I like the circle around it. It really took me by surprise in that I grew up in Philly, a traditional center of Quaker culture, and never saw it before today. The Friends or the Quakers have been quietly doing charitable work for centuries without a visible or bloated bureaucratic religious leadership always handing out PR statements.

The Quakers as a Christian religion has a centuries old tradition of care for the mentally ill, anti-slavery campaigning and advocacy of equal rights for women. They also continue to condemn violence, the death penalty and war.

As such, as soon as I saw this symbol and understood its origin, I thought of the possible need of a visual for the Campaign for Compassion and or course the Tibetan Buddhist concept of Compassion, both of which are not unlike Jesus’ command to love your neighbor.

Of course you cannot steal a symbol but perhaps the design in two other colors could represent compassion.

Any suggestions on two good colors to go with a symbol design already associated with love and peace?


Anonymous said...

This seems to be a spectacularly stupid design, especially for such a use. Red and black are two colours that you should never mix. Red is the colour of violence and it has a clear aggravating effect. The two colours can usually only be seen in some war flags and fascist symbols.

And why such an unharmonious star? And two?

Little Black Car said...

Thanks for nothing, anonymous. Too cowardly even to post under a name?

Blue and white are the first that come to mind for me.

For the record: Quakers don't use any symbol for the RSoF as a whole. The star is pretty much used only by the AFSC, which is a service organization but not a theological governing or advisory body.

Mike McShea said...

Shades of blue on a white background could work.

I am only starting with that design, considering its history, and wanting something symbolically in form to represent compassion on a global basis.

Anonymous said...

it is the union jack (stylized) and it is also found at the vati-can in st peters square

Eric said...

White, red, and black form a tripartite color scheme dating to Proto-Indo-European days. In Hinduism, white represents sattva, balance; red represents rajas, activity; and black represents tamas, or solidity. Everything in the cosmos is a combination of sattva, rajas, and tamas. God transcends all three, and includes all three.

Agnikan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Star Dimino said...

@ Anonymous- That was really helpful to just be critical but not be offer constructive criticism. Instead of asking questions on the design, how about you come up with a brainstorm symbol instead of knocking a person who is trying out ideas.
Also for your edification the color red has many connotations- for Christians it is the blood of Christ- in China it is considered a lucky color. Depending on religions,culture,ethnicity,country, etc colors,symbols and shapes mean different things. Next time if you can't offer help- don't offer anything.