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Our Racism Dear Editor: From cover to cover, the September/October 2018 edition of Western Friend made plain the grievous suffering caused by racism. Our racism.

On Mixture (November 2018)

Offensive Dear Editor: Since I first went to sub-Saharan African in 1964, I have often had to respond to negative and derogatory comments about Black Africa. For example, I have twice complained to Quaker publications where, in the captions for pictures, they gave the names of the White Americans but not of the Black Africans in the same picture. The greatest transgression is what I call African porn – using this definition of pornography: “the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction.” This is often extremely humiliating pictures of poor, starving Africans, frequently children. 

On Mixture (November 2018)

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)

The Weapons We Carry (abridged) The following note was excerpted from a longer message. The original is published here in Western Friend’s online library.

On Weapons (January 2019)

Teachable Moment Dear Friends: David Zarembka’s concerns about the September/October 2018 cover of Western Friend were eye-openers for me. I appreciate the “teachable moment” his thoughts provided, through his letter to the editor in the November/December issue. I now have a better understanding of another hidden bias to be mindful of as we move forward.

On Weapons (January 2019)

On Quakers and Guns (abridged) The following note was excerpted from a longer message. The original is published here in Western Friend’s online library.

On Weapons (January 2019)

Appalling Content (2) Dear Friends: We needed to learn the struggle of Quaker Alice Herz, who died in 1965. Without warning, we are plunged into her story by the poem “Ten Days,” found in the Jan/Feb 2019 issue of Western Friend.

On Water (March 2019)

Council of Elders Dear Editor: I am part of the Council of Elders, a volunteer organization in the Rogue Valley of southern Oregon, committed to promoting civil discourse. We started this organization after hearing about Better Angels (www.better-angels.org), a nation-wide organization that sprang up after the politically polarized  2016 elections. We invited them to do a workshop with us, which inspired my excitement and hope.

On Water (March 2019)