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Snowflakes

“I don’t want to think about that stuff and I’m not going to write about it either.” John grabbed his backpack and stalked out the door.  I had pushed too hard. It had happened in a moment, and he was gone.

On Insight (March 2017)

Embedded in Two Cultures with AFSC

My first job at the American Friends Service Committee was in 1965, when Self-Help Enterprises was being created. This was also my first real experience working with white people, as opposed to working for them, although at the tender age of nineteen, I still did not realize that. I have gone through many emotions – some even tearful – as I recalled my youth and my work while writing this article. As the daughter of a farmworker, I have been confronted with the typical things around racism, feminism, classism, etc., during my youth and into my adult life. It was, in fact, not too many years ago when I decided not to let those things rule my life.

On Balance (May 2017)

Resource on Friends and Politics

Dear Editor: How perfect! We are about to have a retreat here in Flagstaff with a focus on the question of Friends and politics. We were going to try to put together a compilation of quotations from “historic Friends” on this topic. And we have found on your website that you have done it for us. You are always so timely and in tune with Meetings in the West! I hope we can share with Western Friend what comes out of this retreat.

On Balance (May 2017)

The Airtight Cage of Poverty

“We are tired of smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society,” said Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963). To address this crisis, Dr. King (along with Quaker activist Bayard Rustin) launched the Poor People’s Campaign, focusing on economic justice, especially around jobs and housing. In February 1968, King announced the Campaign’s specific demands: $30 billion for anti-poverty programs, full employment, guaranteed income, and the annual construction of 500,000 affordable residences.

On Captivity (January 2018)

Beyond Red and Blue

The creatures in the ocean were dying. An old woman sneaked up to the shoreline and quietly picked up a few emaciated fish – red ones and blue ones. She put them in her pockets and took them away. She nurtured them back to health in a clean pond where they thrived and propagated. When she had a large number of each, she took them back to the sea. Everything turned purple and flourished.

On Expansion (May 2018)

The 9/11 Truth Movement

Dear Friends: The event known today simply as “9/11” happened in 2001, 17 years ago – some would say so long ago that it is not important today. For the three of us, 9/11 is an ongoing Concern. We use the term “Concern” in the Quaker sense of a spiritual leading that constitutes an imperative to action. None of us has a reputation for irrationality or dogmatism. We have been convinced by a significant body of serious and competent scientists, engineers, architects, and others who form the scientific core of what has become known as the “9/11 Truth Movement,” and we have participated in that movement.

On Children (September 2018)

#MeToo and Quaker Men

A year ago, when the phrase #MeToo went viral, it created an opening for women to talk about negative patriarchal experiences that they have been forced to put up with for years, and it drew widespread attention to sexual assault and harassment of women in all walks of life. #MeToo actually began in 2006, when social activist and community organizer Tarana Burke created the phrase “Me Too” on the Myspace social network. Her goal was to promote “empowerment through empathy” among women of color who had experienced sexual abuse, particularly within underprivileged communities. Burke was inspired to use the phrase after finding herself unable to respond to a thirteen-year-old girl who had confided in her that she had been sexually assaulted. Burke later wished she had simply told the girl, “Me too.” On October 15, 2017, actress Alyssa Milano made a very public invitation to women everywhere to spread the #MeToo meme on Twitter. She later gave Burke credit for the meme.

On Mixture (November 2018)

Self-Compassion and Quakers

Like many others, I was drawn to the Religious Society of Friends by its compassionate work with people in need. As an undergraduate in the 1960s, I witnessed that compassion first-hand by participating in several AFSC projects, including visiting mental-hospital patients in the Bay Area and working with disadvantaged children during Freedom Summer in Memphis, Tennessee. Those experiences inspired my later career as a child psychologist. Yet almost from the beginning, I have found it difficult to live up to Friends’ idealism; and over the years, I have grown to perceive among Friends a hidden, unmet need – for self-compassion.

On Mixture (November 2018)

Empire of Guns (review)

How free is your life from war, violence, and oppression? How free is your financial life from these forces? Satia Priya poses these questions as she traces the conflict between the Birmingham Monthly Meeting (BMM) in central England in the 1790s and the Galton family, who were members of the meeting and who made their livelihoods selling guns as England became the leading weapons manufacturer in the world. In fact, Quakers owned or managed over half of the ironworks in operation in England in the last half of the 18th Century, and weapons were a major product of the iron industry, sold to the Ordnance Office of the British Government and on the open market – throughout several decades of war and colonial expansion dominated by the British.

On Weapons (January 2019)

Amor Fati

Paradox defined: “Items and situations that seem mutually exclusive, yet somehow reflect upon each other, often creating a deeper, more nuanced truth, perhaps in dynamic tension, or complementing each other.” Like a Quaker serving in the military. I lived that paradox intermittently for seven years while serving in the reserves during medical school and residency. Then I lived it full-time during four years of active duty, which started when I completed my medical training in 2000. My first year of active duty seemed pretty benign, then 9/11/2001 happened, and my situation instantly became truly “military.” I faced impending deployment to “the sandbox,” the Middle East. 

On Weapons (January 2019)