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On Rules At the level of an individual family, an abused person can walk away from their abuser; they can start a new life elsewhere. That is also possible in a Quaker meeting or even in the Society of Friends – abused members of our Quaker family can leave, and they do. But it is not possible for abused members of the human family to leave the human family, even when humanity is twisted into morbid cycles of cruelty.

On Rules (November 2020)

Abolish the Police Jed Walsh and Mackenzie Barton-Rowledge are close friends who do police and prison abolition work together. They sent Western Friend a conversation about what abolition means to them, and how it fits into their lives as Quakers.

On Rules (November 2020)

A Fitting Punishment Dear Friends: Drought and forest fires all over the West. Two simultaneous hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. The North Pole going ice-free. Each summer hotter than the summer before.

On Rules (November 2020)

Beyond Hatred and Scapegoating Dear Friends: In the last edition of Western Friend, the last paragraph of the “Daily Justice and Injustice” article was incomplete — I had not gotten my final edit back to Mary in time. So please consider this to be a correction to that article, which I call “WWJWD: What Would John Woolman DO?” 

On Rules (November 2020)

The Fourth Bowl Dear Editor: To “The Parable of the Bowls” by Debbie Townsend in the September/October 2020 Western Friend, I would add this:

On Rules (November 2020)

Not Impossible Standards Dear Editor: Thanks to Sharon Doyle for her interesting and informative article in the Nov/Dec 2020 Western Friend about the evolution of the peace testimony. She walked us through centuries with a thumbnail sketch that managed to contain the essence of our inconsistencies, both successes and failures. I have a truer and humbler appreciation for our past. It strikes me that I had similar feelings after reading Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship. Somehow, I feel that I don’t have an impossible standard to live up to, that Quakers then are like Quakers now: We have some brave, insightful trail-blazers, and the rest of us are trailing along behind, finding excuses until our lack of integrity finally becomes clear, and we see the Light.

On Vision (January 2021)

A Good Push Dear Editor: Thank you for this latest issue of Western Friend, “On Rules.” I’m only half-way through, but I’ve appreciated every article. Eleanor Dart and David Tucker gave good viewpoints on their topics. And then I got to Valerie Ireland and Lori Patterson, and I was truly moved to tears, which is really unusual for me. I don’t know if you will get some flak for Lori’s article, but it was a really good push for me. I have a lot to learn, and these present-day Quakers, sharing their struggles with present-day issues, are really great. I know Valerie Ireland, so it felt like she was just sitting in my living room explaining what it’s like these days to work in inner-city schools. Really important to hear. I don’t know Lori, but I very much appreciated her challenge to us white folk.

On Vision (January 2021)

Urgency for Peace Dear Friends: Since becoming a Quaker, I have realized the importance and urgency of having peace. We have been programmed to believe that violence is the only way to get someone to stop aggression. But in order to have true peace, we must stop responding in kind. Violence only leads to more violence, and if you go to war to fight for peace, you might win the war, but you’ve only subdued the “enemy.” There will still be thoughts of revenge, so that’s not really peace. (Consider how the Southerners feel about Dixie.)

On Vision (January 2021)

Friends and Toxic Conformity Dear Friends: We gaped as almost 100 congressmen, state attorneys general, and governors signed an amicus brief to a futile lawsuit in Texas, attempting to monkey wrench the recent presidential election. A recent radio piece on NPR, “A Conspiracy of Silence” (Hidden Brain, 12/6/2020), put forth an explanation: Being social creatures, every one of us has to “go along to get along” at times.

On Vision (January 2021)

An Unfinished Revolution [This text has been excerpted from the author’s upcoming book, An Unfinished Revolution: Edna Buckman Kearns and the Struggle for Women’s Rights (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2021).]  

On Relevance (March 2021)