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Twenty Nickels Make a Dollar Although I thought I had gone to medical school to become a clinician, it turns out now, twenty-plus years into my medical career, that I actually went to become a teacher. Early on, it became apparent that others viewed me as a good teacher. I did indeed enjoy teaching, so I chose to become a physician teacher of resident physicians and medical students, a role I have filled for the last sixteen years.

On Teachers (September 2020)

Practicing Radical Inclusivity (abridged) [The following text was excerpted from Mica Estrada’s complete keynote talk, which is published at: https://westernfriend.org/media/practicing-radical-inclusivity]

On Teachers (September 2020)

An FCNL Education in Civic Engagement Future generations will likely study the events of this year and scratch their heads. Just considering a global pandemic (and the failure of our leaders to address it) and racial injustice reaching a fever pitch, one can almost envision an entire college course examining the calamities of 2020. Add to that the voter suppression, gun violence, hunger, poverty, wars, and extinctions of plants and animals that were already in play before 2020’s headline events, and it almost sounds like a fiction course.

On Teachers (September 2020)

This Is the Work I am a twenty-year veteran teacher. I’ve always taught the littlest ones – first grade, kindergarten, and preschool for four-year-olds, otherwise known as early childhood education or ECE. I teach ECE today in a predominantly black district – Denver Pubic Schools – at Hallett Academy, where 99% of the students are black.

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)

The Dreamer To dream Is to stand at the Gate of Creation, arms akimbo, one foot planted firmly at the Edge of Eternity. The other foot solidly moored In the Patterns of Reality. Your body humming with the Eternal Dichotomy of advancement and retreat as one’s life proceeds to the warm, unknowable embrace of non-being. To many, this journey can disappoint or it can be the final point in a masterful life.

On Vision (January 2021)

Quaker Culture: Creativity We hate to admit that we are confused, desperately longing for direction. We seem to deny that man was made in the image of God and that we are meant to be creative too, each in our own way. . . If the artist’s work is his worship, [then]. . . Greed will have to go. Greed, which is hunger for the power that money can buy . . . Speed will have to go. Speed, which kills the craftsman and his work, which spoils the enjoyment of nature, dulls our senses, prevents meditation and the maturing of a growing mind. . . We must recapture what we have lost; we must fight for our faith, fight our way back to God. We must become creative again, whole again, and aware of our responsibilities for a new moral order. (1952)

On Vision (January 2021)

On Relevance Throughout the ages, humans have kept reinventing the world, over and over again. Language, agriculture, kingdoms, credit, mass production, and social media – each innovation has turned our species upside down, and we’ve flattened countless others in the process. We are a species that is made for tinkering. We are a species with an inclination for figuring out how to make things better. Looking out at the universe, the interplay of chaos and order, we pluck particular observations out of our field of experience and string them together into explanations, arguments, stories, and plans. We are made to make meaning.

On Relevance (March 2021)

In a Quaker Minute Most people know several different ways for drawing a large group of people to a decision. I’ve experienced many: Robert’s Rules, the Lakota talking circle, the old-fashioned town-hall meeting, the top-down company-wide memo, a method I’ll call “spokes and wheels,” as well as Quaker meeting for business. These give us “outward forms” for grappling with messy social processes. None of them are sacred, although the sacred may work through them. Do I think some methods excel above others? Yes. Do I think we should change Quaker process? No! However, if I could change one thing in the Quaker mind it would be the errant belief that, in order to be good process, it must proceed at a glacial pace.

On Relevance (March 2021)

Illusions and Miracles Military forces in the 18th and 19th centuries employed a deceptive tactic called “the Quaker gun trick.” This involved using wooden cannon replicas, sometimes painted black, to trick an adversary into withdrawal or surrender – without a shot being fired. We are not talking Peace Testimony here, but perhaps Friendly Trickery – deception for the greater good of de-escalation.

On Tricks (May 2021)