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Integrity as Discipline Dear Editor: I was glad to see Richard Grossman address the population crisis in your May/June 2015 issue, both for the sake of this grave topic, and also because he organizes his arguments around the SPICE acronym for describing key Quaker values, or “testimonies:” Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, and Equality (and Grossman adds Stewardship). Some Friends object to SPICE on the grounds that it would not have been recognizable to George Fox, but I regard the formula as a very succinct and very accurate description of our concerns since at least the nineteenth century.

On Difference (July 2015)

Surmounting Limits in Quakerism When I asked Mary Klein if she would publish an article about the 2016 meeting of Friends World Committee on Consultation, she suggested that I write one for the issue on “Limits.” My initial response was: “Is she kidding?” I was grateful for her offer, but something in me bristles at the word “limits.”

On Limits (May 2016)

Here Sleep Dragons As a young man, I joined the Peace Corps and served in Morocco for two and a half years. One day I found myself sitting in a café in Rabat, my mind in a swirl, as I looked at the equally swirling street scene. I was trying and trying to figure things out and just couldn’t. I sat there feeling lost and helpless, with a rising sense of panic. Then I began to laugh at the ridiculousness of my situation. Giving up the thought that I could make sense of it, I plunged back into the chaos of the day, no better off than before.

On Insight (March 2017)

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)

Living Grief, Finding Connection As climate disasters, species extinctions, and the relentless unraveling of the Web of Life on Earth become ever more impossible to ignore, eco-anxiety becomes ever more widespread. There’s now a name for this unique mental anguish – solastalgia – a term created by environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht in the early 2000s. Unrelenting hurricane seasons, devastating forest fires, smoke- and smog-filled air, prolonged drought, extreme heat, clear-cutting – all these can trigger solastalgia. Buddhist deep ecologist, eco-philosopher and activist Joanna Macy expresses this well in The Bestiary:

On Loss (May 2023)

“Tell Our Story.” The stories I have heard told, graphic and heart-rending, by northbound migrants and asylum-seekers along the Arizona-Mexico border and by Latinx and indigenous campesinos in Central America, have transformed me. Where I was once a concerned but passive on-looker, I am now a determined human rights activist, intent upon bringing stories from the southwestern borderlands to the American public.

On Water (March 2019)