Dear Friends: When an angel, according to biblical records, encounters a living human being, the first thing the angel says is. “Fear not!” or “Be not afraid!” or words to that effect.
An angel would be terrifying up close and personal. But listen again. The angel doesn’t say, “Fear me not!” or “Be not afraid of me!” It is a general advice to abandon fear.
“This isn’t working. We need to start over.” Virtually nobody ever wants to hear that. Our natural tendency is to protect our accomplishments and hang onto what we’ve got, even if that might not be good for us. Our brains are not designed to assess risk accurately. We underrate the risks of the mundane (cars, bathrooms) and overrate the risks of the dramatic (airplanes, tornadoes).
As Friends and as a people of faith, we walk a narrow tightrope between using wealth as a means to bring light and life into the world and allowing it to become a snare. The snare can draw us into a prison of world and wealth centeredness, or can trap us into such self-imposed poverty that we rely on the wealth of others to live.
Dear Friends: 9/11 does not go away. It is with us on a daily basis, and it has changed our character as a nation. It has been the rationale for unending war, the sacrifice of civil liberties, the creation of a surveillance state, and a litany of radical changes in US behavior at home and abroad.
Dear Friends: “We come now to examine the state and condition of man as he stands in the fall: what his capacity and power [are] and how far he is able, as of himself, to advance in relation to the things of God.” (Robert Barclay, 1678).
We simply can’t always speak out. But there are critical times within Friends’ communities when failing to speak truth can cause great damage. Trying not to offend, trying to maintain a surface calm, can cause a disastrous loss of trust and can betray our commitment to answering the Light in everyone. Often it enables cruel behavior to continue.