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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)

Dignity and Civic Life We can envision a universal parameter of dignity for individuals: Each person is owed fundamental respect simply by virtue of being human. We can also appreciate the importance of ensuring dignified treatment of the myriad of groups that comprise our society, and in particular, those that have been exploited, marginalized, and disempowered. For Friends, the importance of human dignity rests on a strong spiritual basis:

On Dignity (July 2023)

In the Twilight Zone

Several years ago, I sat in the jury pool for a federal trial that promised to be lengthy.

On Prayer (May 2024)

Justice Reform Begins with Understanding “You end up with broken families. You end up with communities that are being plagued with more violence and more crime. And you end up with people not reaching their God-given potential.” This sort of remark about the impacts of mass incarceration on life in America is typical for liberal politicians and Friends. In this instance, however, the New York Times was quoting Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio (3/13/2014). Remarkably, a bipartisan coalition is developing to move public policy in the criminal justice arena in a way that respects that of God in all persons – including those in prison – and at the same time advances public safety.

On Family (September 2014)

My Quest to Change the Education System A normal school day in a traditional public school is full of many issues that go against Quaker values. These issues tend to have a negative impact on students and, therefore, the world surrounding them. The issues include, but aren’t limited to, the ineffective use of textbooks in the classroom, students unconsciously being taught to hate certain subjects, students losing their love of learning, rushing in the classroom, over-reliance on standardized testing, and the ineffective use of homework. These issues and many others led me, a student, to focus on transforming the education system to make it better for both students and teachers.

On Beginning (March 2016)

Emancipation without Freedom Racism and white supremacy, the malignant cancers plaguing America today, are a joint system destroying black and brown bodies. In the past, the Klan did that destroying. Today, statistics do. Those statistics amount to the erasure of people. The destruction of black and brown bodies is hidden in statistics on poor health, poor housing, inadequate schooling, over-policed communities, and mass incarceration. These social ills, which overwhelmingly affect black and brown communities, are ills that Friends can help to correct. With the realization of their whiteness and their dominant position within a racialized country, Friends have the power to define spaces outside their communities, as well as the opportunity to break the past and change the future of race relations.

On Politics (July 2017)

Quaker Culture: Children In the Puritan and Calvinist cultures prevalent in 17th century Britain and America, children were believed to be born corrupted by “original sin”. Quakers rejected this doctrine, and Robert Barclay called it “an invented and unscriptural barbarism”. . . In an age when harsh punishments for children were the norm, Quaker parents rejected corporal punishment and used reason to appeal to their children. Today, the Quaker Peace Centre in South Africa conducts training for teachers on alternatives to corporal punishment in schools.

On Children (September 2018)

Gun Control and/or Civil War? It is currently popular to call for “gun control” in the United States, especially in the wake of senseless mass shootings that have rocked the nation. However, most proposed “gun control” legislation has at its center the punishment of blameless people for the violent acts of a few. That is, these measures restrict or prohibit gun availability to citizens who have broken no laws, have harmed no one, and have merely exercised their rights under the Constitution to buy and own weapons. Promoters of strict “gun control” often seem to vilify gun owners as a sub-class of humans who do not merit recognition, rights, or respect. This polarizing attitude makes effective communication almost impossible.

On Weapons (January 2019)