Part of my dad’s job with the American Friends Service Committee was to take speakers around to various college campuses, churches, and summer institutes. As a kid, I sometimes went along and got to meet such spiritual giants as peace activist A.J. Muste and civil rights leaders Bayard Rustin and Ralph Abernathy.
Friends are not known for large families. However, it is my experience that many members of the Religious Society of Friends are like most people in the USA – we are generally unaware of the connections between what we hold dear and the growing number of people in the world. Human population growth is an “elephant in the room,” which we typically avoid or ignore.
This year I retired from a quarter century of teaching college geoscience. A major challenge accompanying this new venture has been making investment decisions I have little experience with. In doing so, I must, of course, protect our family “nest egg,” so we can continue to pay the bills, take care of emergencies, and help with the extended family.
About three years ago, a group of my Alaskan friends were talking about abuses suffered by citizens from unconstitutional police acts. One of us said that we need a Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission like the one that Desmond Tutu used to help South Africa recover from apartheid.
We know a lot about war talk. We speak of fighting crime, obesity, drugs, and climate change. I am currently “fighting” depression. But if Quakers seek alternatives to violence, we need to develop a practical language for building peace. It’s not enough to “smite the enemies” of the problems in our lives.
On a quiet residential street in the heart of Mexico City, in the former home and studio of the noted muralist Jose Clemente Orozco, your find a modest Quaker institution. To the casual observer, this is a spacious residence, frequented occasionally by young foreigners. It appears at various times to be a home, a guesthouse, or a community center.
The results of our recent national and local elections were profoundly pleasing to some of us while deeply disturbing to others. When our candidates or parties have prevailed, we have confidence in the direction of government, while if they were unsuccessful, we lament the prospect of decision-making in the hands of those we feel are less capable or less committed to the principles we value.
In his recent article, “ISIS’s Call of Duty,” Jay Caspian Kang describes similarities between ISIS recruitment films and first-person-shooter games – similarities that are likely intentional (The New Yorker, September 18, 2014). Kang’s article is one of many that play into a larger debate about the role of violent videogames and other violent media in our culture.