*Afterthought #63: Quakers in Politics

As a newly-elected public official, I’m reflecting on the long history of Quakers involved in politics. As Marge Abbott explains in a recent QuakerSpeak episode,

Friends have always been very active in addressing our government and its rule. They had started out in the earliest days having to try and change laws that were affecting them directly. As time went by a century later they were among the most active lobbyists to end slavery, active in women’s suffrage, in temperance movements… many, many places where they were lobbying over the centuries.”

Quakers in the World is another source about Friends’ “long tradition of being active in, and seeking to make a difference to, the world in which they find themselves. In their actions they seek to put Quaker testimonies such as equality, peace and integrity into practice, as best they can.” The site’s overview of Quakers in Politics is good grounding for me as I serve my community as a commissioner for our new Public Hospital District.

alice paul

Suffragist Alice Paul is one of those Quakers who worked diligently for equal rights for women. I don’t expect my entry into politics to be anywhere as demanding as Alice Paul’s efforts, but I look to her as an example of service.

 

 

*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.

*Afterthought #62 – Angry Quaker

ParkerJPalmer-hires-600x433Parker Palmer is someone I often turn to for spiritual guidance.  He’s a Quaker elder, educator, activist, and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal. I’ve been reading his writing a lot lately (his wisdom about talking across ideological lines was the subject of my September 2016 Afterthought).

Now, a couple of months into the Trump administration, Parker wrestles with his feelings  “…when it comes to this president and his staff who keep insisting that the emperor has new clothes, then blame and ban journalists for not telling the world how good he looks in them.” This is how his most recent post on the On Being blog begins:

What’s An Angry Quaker To Do?

I’m a Quaker. I stand in a religious tradition that asks me to live by such values as community, equality, simplicity, and non-violence. As a result, I frequently find myself in deep oatmeal — especially when it comes to politics, where I seem to have an anger management problem. Not long ago, a friend with whom I’d been having a heated political argument gave me a black t-shirt that says “One Mean Quaker.”

Does anger have a role to play in the life of someone who aspires to non-violence?

Parker goes on with much to ponder as he differs with the view that anger is “a spiritual flaw to be eliminated.” I’m examining my anger, too, so I’m spending some time with Parker’s words and hope you will, too. If you find commonality with what he has to say (or even if you don’t), you might want to read more of his weekly On Being columns.

I’ll end with Parker’s closing thought:

Spirituality and anger (and humor) are not necessarily at odds. Or so it seems to “One Mean Quaker” as I continue to stumble through life — well aware that, before too long, I’m likely to find myself in deep oatmeal again.Oatmeal_(1).jpg

 

*“Afterthoughts” are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, maybe even bumper stickers.

*Afterthought #60 – Snow Day

The next-to-the-last day of this month, snow fell once again on Lopez Island. It was 36° outside, yet the morning rain gradually turned to soggy flakes, then to sleet. Most of it melted as soon as it hit the ground, but for a place that typically sees snow only once a winter, this fourth round of snowfall stunned me.

In honor of our unusual weather, I’m ending this month with a link to a YouTube video from Moses Brown School­—a Quaker school in Providence, RI. Just as they did a year ago, they’ve made a new video, Can’t Stop the Feeling – School is Closed! The parody of Justin Timberlake’s hit song to announce a snow day will make you grin—and maybe wish for some flurries.

 

 

*“Afterthoughts” are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, maybe even bumper stickers.

*Afterthought #59 – Moving Forward

Last night concluded Eileen Flanagan’s five-week online course, We Were Made for This Moment. Eileen has been working for environmental and social justice for nearly thirty years; the last five she’s focused on climate justice with Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), a group that combines smart strategy and spiritual grounding. I interviewed Eileen after reading her latest book, Renewable: One Woman’s Search for Simplicity, Faithfulness, and Hope. She brought all of her work and seeking to this course and also supported development of a community of over 100 participants (Quaker and non-Quaker) who, like me, now feel strengthened and heartened to discern and offer the skills and gifts we have to offer.course-flyer

 

If you’re seeking information about social change, clarity, and empowerment to move forward in this chaotic time, I recommend Elaine’s repeat of the course beginning February 12.

 

Until then, here are just a few of the resources I’m turning to as I move forward.

A Ten-Point Strategy to Stop Trump and Make Gains in Justice and Equality by George Lakey

198 Methods of Nonviolent Action by the Albert Einstein Institution

How to Stay Outraged Without Losing Your Mind by Mirah Curzer.

 

*“Afterthoughts” are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, maybe even bumper stickers.