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If We Don't Build it (Please note: It is understood that Rrace is a social construct. There is no biologically meaningful concept of “different races” among humanity. For the purpose of this article, I use terms that may seem to imply distinctions or divisions between groups of people that do not exist biologically. These distinctions are artifices drawn by human culture, politics, and economics. There is only one race, the human race. – Delcy Steffy)

On Superiority (July 2013)

Never Too Early We’re tolerant of behavior by a two-year-old that would disturb us greatly if it were displayed by an adult. The behavior of the two-year-old is something we’d normally accept as natural to the condition of a two-year-old. The same behavior in an adult would challenge us to reconcile our ideas about what is natural in adult behavior with the disruptive behavior we see before us. It follows from this that reconciliation among adults might be easier if we learned to see a wider range of behaviors as normal to the human condition, rather than perceiving disruptive behaviors as a sign of moral deficiency or moral misconduct. (Please note that adults who’ve had little contact with very young children might not find it easy to adjust to the behavior of two-year-olds.)

On Reconciliation (January 2015)

Quakers, Climate, and Money 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.

On Needs (May 2015)

Everything is Connected (abridged) Excerpts from the keynote presentation to North Pacific Yearly Meeting; July 27, 2017; University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington

On Home (September 2017)

The Long View In the mid-1730s, John Bartram, a Quaker living near Philadelphia, wrote the following in his journal: “One day I was very busy in holding my plough (for thee seest I am but a ploughman), and being weary, I ran under the shade of a tree to repose myself. I cast my eyes on a daisy; I plucked it mechanically, and viewed it with more curiosity than common country farmers are wont to do, and observed therein very many distinct parts, some perpendicular, some horizontal. What a shame, said my mind, or something that inspired my mind, that thee shouldst have employed so many years in tilling the earth, and destroying so many flowers and plants, without being acquainted with their structures and their uses!”

On Mixture (November 2018)

Service – A Gateway to Fulfillment The question of how to have a fulfilling existence during our short time on earth is especially significant in contemporary society. Many of us find that we struggle much less than our ancestors did for survival and basic necessities. We don’t have tigers chasing us, or wolves bothering us. As a result, when our short-term survival is not on the line, our prefrontal cortexes can direct their energies to questions of long-term happiness.

On Puzzles (April 2019)

Appreciative Eldering When I first got involved in Friends Meetings, I was fortunate to have a number of role models and elders to guide my first steps into this society, which was foreign to the world I had known. I felt immediately that I was a Quaker and that I had been one for years before discovering a meeting. But learning the Quaker jargon took a while. Some of it seemed so natural because it fit so well, but some of it required absorbing new processes and new ways of looking at the community life. I did some of that learning by osmosis, some by asking questions, and some by getting help from more experienced Friends.

On Mediation (January 2020)

Quakers and Conflict In your Quaker meeting, you may have experienced events similar to these: a Friend doesn’t want to be on a committee with another Friend due to a past conflict; two Friends complain about a third party, whom they find to be impossible (yes, it does happen); a Friend speaks up in business meeting about a conflict that is going on, and no one responds or takes any follow-up action.

On Mediation (January 2020)

On the Side of the Rebel Jesus During my year of spiritual service with Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS), Jesus’s teachings became much more relevant to my life. I began to notice how his message relates to facets of my life that once seemed separate from my spirituality – in particular, my activism. Being introduced to the topic of liberation theology during my time in this program opened up a new window through which I could look at the world.

On Wealth (May 2020)

Race and Faith (abridged) [The following text was drawn from a complete manuscript of José Santos Woss’s keynote talk, which is published at: https://westernfriend.org/media/race-and-faith-unabridged]

On Cliques (September 2021)