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Communicating Quaker experience to connect and deepen spiritual lives
Updated: 8 hours 37 min ago

Black people just want to be treated equally

Mon, 2017-05-01 03:55

Dear Donald J. Trump

Over the years there has been a hashtag: #BlackLivesMatter. Some people like to argue that all lives matter, but if that were true there would be no Black Lives Matter movement.

This all started in 2012 when Trayvon Martin was shot for looking suspicious, and his shooter (George Michael Zimmerman) was not held accountable for his actions. He was put on trial and found not guilty. In 2016, 258 black people were killed by police brutality in the United States. Thirty-nine of these people were unarmed. One of them, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old father of five, became the 135th black person killed by police in 2016. The incident is on video, and it can clearly be seen that he simply did what the police told him to.

As a young black woman, I have been racially profiled. One particular time, after the movies, two of my black friends and I went into a store. The store employees continually asked us if we needed help and followed us around. After we left, I realized that they could have called security on us. We could have been one of the 258 people killed by police brutality.

In my opinion, not much has changed for people of color in America. Slavery, segregation, and now the reason behind Black Lives Matter, are all the same thing. We are being treated differently because of the color of our skin. Black people just want to be treated equally. There is no reason for us to be killed or even looked at differently. There is no reason for us to feel unsafe or insecure because of our skin color.

Why does the mistreatment satisfy people? Does it make these people happy to make us feel like we don’t belong simply because of the color of our skin? Does what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood for mean absolutely nothing to them? We should be judged by who we are as a person, not by skin color. Unfortunately, this is not what’s happening. In fact, not much has changed. So, Mr. Trump, what are you going to do about this? How are you going to help with this situation?

Sincerely,

Nyah Thomas, Grade 7, Friends Academy

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Our police are not protecting and serving anymore

Mon, 2017-05-01 03:50

Dear Mr. Trump,

Congratulations on winning the 2016 election. It was a long battle between you and Mrs. Clinton. For the next four years you will be the President of the United States of America. As you serve, here is one thing to think about: inexperienced police. Recently in our country we have had many occasions where police have had either a short temper or jumped to conclusions much too early, and shot dead many citizens. This is completely unacceptable.

I believe these police are inexperienced and need better training. This training would be a test on the process of what a policeman or woman would do in order to make sure that no one is harmed. Our police are not protecting and serving anymore. They’re scaring and overpowering. If we would just bring attention to this problem, we could direct our attention to other issues, such as rapid extinction of international species, climate change, terrorist threats, and poverty around the world. I believe we need to bring more attention to these police as a first priority. I do realize that all police are attempting to do their absolute best, and most do respect all people, but it’s those who don’t that we need to talk to.

It has officially happened. You have officially won. Now it’s your turn to lead America. You, yes you, can make history by changing the environment and creating a safer community with more intelligent police. Please think about it.

Sincerely,

Carl Wagner, Grade 6, Westtown School

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One of the many injustices that I am craving for you to change is the death penalty

Mon, 2017-05-01 03:45

Dear Mr. Trump,

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I am hoping that you will dedicate your presidency to justice for all people. I hope that you use your presidential platform to give equality to all. I am asking you to stop the prejudice everywhere, so that there are no threats to justice anywhere.

One of the many injustices that I am craving for you to change is the death penalty. Our world is killing people who might not have even committed the crime they’ve been sentenced for. People who commit atrocious crimes can have a life sentence in prison, not be killed by the government. In 2015 alone, at least 1,634 people were executed in the world. Throughout the 1900s, 8,141 people were executed in the world. That is way too many. It is also possible that some of these people were wrongfully convicted. I believe that even the lives of deeply flawed criminals matter. I believe that everyone is here for a reason, and deserves their rights.

Elie Wiesel, who fought for equality during the Holocaust, strongly stated, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” I think that you, as our president, should never fail to protest and you should stand with me against injustice. I want you to stand against sexism, racism, homophobia, and every other injustice. One of the hot topics right now is the bathroom law. I want you to change this in your first year, and stand with transgendered individuals, and not fail to protest.

Eleanor Roosevelt once told America, “Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.” We live in a place where justice is usually only given to one side. An example of this is the death penalty. Justice is something everyone deserves, and nobody should be forgotten.

There is a place called heaven. America is far from it. There are inequalities everywhere, and many things that you need to change. America isn’t a paradise and probably never will be. With your help we can move America in the right direction. We can take what we have and use it to make America a place where everyone is treated the same, no matter who they are. If you use your power for justice, you will always be remembered.

Sincerely,

Lucy Joy Rupertus, Grade 6, Greene Street Friends School

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I want my brother to be able to drive without having the fear of being pulled over

Mon, 2017-05-01 03:40

Dear President Donald Trump,

Being under 18, I had no say in the election, but I would like to mention that I would not have voted for you. You have very little care for minorities or anyone under you. My family is full of minorities, and I want them to be safe. I want my brother to be able to drive without having the fear of being pulled over and never seeing his family again. I want my uncle and aunt to be able to go to their local mosque without being harassed. I want my cousin to be able to marry whomever he wants to.

In your term as president, there are many issues that need to be addressed. A very important issue to focus on is the criminal justice system. The system is rigged. Too many people are being incarcerated, especially minorities due to the color of their skin. A way to help fix this problem would be to have police officers go through extensive training and wear body cameras at all times. Officers of the law need to be held accountable for their actions at all times. Racial profiling is terrible and should come to an end. Another issue is the problem of mass incarceration. According to Amnesty International, though the United States makes up 5 percent of the world’s population, it is responsible for 22 percent of the world’s prison population. This isn’t right. Mass incarceration is also very expensive, and funding all those jails and prisons takes away money that could go toward education and other very useful programs. Steps need to be made to improve the country. If you really want to make America great again, make changes for the better.

Sincerely,

Nawal N’Garnim, Grade 10, Westtown School

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The following is a letter of protest

Mon, 2017-05-01 03:35

President Trump,

The following is a letter of protest in regard to our xenophobic policies. Under the veil of the Republican primary, you openly declared that you would build a wall to prevent immigrants from Mexico from finding a home, a safe haven from the violence in their native country. You also stated that you would deport millions of undocumented immigrants who call America their home. Now I ask you: Will you separate families, snatch away the parents of a young American born in this country but whose parents were not? Will you have police enforcing the law, guns at the ready? If so, that is called fascism, which is unconstitutional and, in my mind, un-American. And what if this child’s parents have no other place in the world that they can call home? If you deport them, you will likely condemn them to a life of poverty and despair, far away from the nation they call home in their hearts. I am a 13-year-old Texan and a native Spanish speaker. Under your administration, many of my friends’ families would be deported, never to be seen again. I can assure you that while they may not be citizens, they are every bit as much patriotic Americans, no different from me. And in light of this, I urge you to do what is beneficial for all Americans who call this country home.

Sinceramente,

Davis Brooks, Grade 8, Wharton Dual Language Academy, member of Live Oak Meeting in Houston, Texas

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America has always welcomed immigrants from all over the world

Mon, 2017-05-01 03:30

Dear. President Trump,

I am a dual American-Palestinian citizen currently living in Ramallah, Palestine. I wanted to write to you today to let you know that since you took office I’ve been disappointed in some of the controversial decisions you’ve made, most notably the travel ban that prevents citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

America has always welcomed immigrants from all over the world. About two years ago, I visited the Statue of Liberty for the first time. I can recall being at Ellis Island with my family where we looked up my great-great-grandpa’s name from all those who immigrated to the United States in 1911. Mr. President, those immigrants made America great.

This is a human rights issue, and you as the president should help bring peace and equality between all people regardless of the color of their skin, race, or religion. As a Quaker school, we are taught many values. The one that affects me the most is equality. From all the news I’ve seen, you do not believe in or promote the principle of equality among citizens.

Mr. President, I know you have many goals you want to accomplish during your presidential term, but take this advice from a child: you’ll never succeed if your goals are not just and fair!

Sincerely,

Malak Qaradeh, Grade 7, Ramallah Friends School

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Do not break the hearts of the children who want to be together with their parents

Mon, 2017-05-01 03:25

Dear Mr. President Donald J. Trump,

It’s a pleasure to greet you from Costa Rica. I am writing this letter to ask you to continue to support my Costa Rican country’s economy and ecotourism. Thanks to ecotourism, many Costa Rican people have a daily job for their living expenses and food for the home. My hope is that you can keep the same process as the Obama administration.

This issue may not be important to you, but it affects us; all of Latin America is waiting for your help and generosity. As a Latin person, I ask you support the immigrant families. Like everyone else we work hard to survive. It is sad to me that you want to deport as many Latinos as possible. I have family that lives in the USA, and the government has not wanted to help them, despite the fact that they have lived in the states for many years. There are many families that already have a life formed, that have nowhere to go because the United States is their home.

Mr. Trump, do not break the hearts of the children who want to be together with their parents. Consider the importance of family values and the future of the children, and help them grow by educating them without discrimination and racism. Don’t construct the big wall to divide Latinos from people in the United States, no matter what their color or where we come from.

The most important thing is to be united. Together we can change the world in a good, positive way, learning to help each other, understand each other, and hear each other. If one day I wish to visit your country, I would be happy to be received with a good welcoming. For my part, I leave everything in the hands of God, wanting my voice to be heard.

Thank you for your attention and support. Sincerely,

Sara De La Torre, Grade 9, Monteverde Friends School

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America needs to be a safe place for anybody and everybody

Mon, 2017-05-01 03:20

Dear President Trump,

America needs to be a safe place for anybody and everybody. Many people are fleeing war-torn countries to find a safe, new life in America. They dream of living somewhere free, and they deserve that. These people have escaped traumatic, life-threatening situations, and I feel it’s our duty to open our arms to them and welcome them. America should be a place where everybody, including immigrants, members of the LGBT community, women, and people of different races, should be treated equally.

I would suggest that you read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. In it, a black man is put on trial for a crime he never committed, and is found guilty, simply for the color of his skin. In the end, he ends up dead, when he was always completely innocent in the first place. The book takes place in the late 1930s, and we tend to think that we’ve moved past these times, that nothing like that could ever happen now. There is still injustice in this world. While the characters in the book are fictional, the subject is very, very real.

The events happening in this world today have caused many young people, like myself, to have their eyes opened and be exposed to the ugly parts of this world. To Kill a Mockingbird is told through the eyes of an eight-year-old girl who navigates the world alongside her eleven-year-old brother. With their father being the lawyer of the innocent black man, the two young kids are exposed to terrible injustice.

It hits them both hard, particularly her brother. It’s clear that he’s been shocked by the injustice of the world, and has to work hard to get his faith in humans restored. He is a character who never took much interest in seeing the real world before, but now he can’t help but see what’s going on right before his eyes. Angry and hurt, he is forced to grow up right then and there. This has happened to many young people, including me, just like him. We live his storyline. We want to have a voice. We are young, but we have opened our eyes and see what’s going on in the world. We want to have our ideas heard.

The book is very much still important to today’s events. Injustice still very much exists. We ask for your help in stopping this. I ask that you please look around at the faces of all of the people here in America today, and not see black people and white people, men and women, gay people and transgender people, but just people. We are all people.

Sincerely, a concerned citizen,

Gillian C. Murray, Grade 7, Leaves of Learning, member of Oxford (Ohio) Meeting

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I feel that nationalism can help America

Mon, 2017-05-01 03:15

Dear Mr. President,

As you have taken office, you have disrupted many societies throughout the world. You promise to increase our nation’s borders, to accurately vet immigrants, and to make America great again, all from what people say is your hubris and excessive nationalism. Having pride in your country never is unethical, but when it becomes jingoism it affects the communities around us. When Napoleon ruled over France, he instituted a form of patriotism throughout the country. Although this gave citizens an identity and something to live for, it developed into expansionist nationalism, filling the French civilians with hubris and ultimately retracting France’s reign. We are currently headed down this path. Your speeches express a great deal of patriotism, however when you speak, many people ask if history may repeat itself.

Another aspect people fear is your temperament and how effortless it is to spark an altercation with you. You denounce people on TV, and hardly listen to anyone. People think that your attitude is paltry, but I find it hypocritical. In the past century, our country had an amazing time period. We expanded votes to minorities, overcame three considerable wars, and flew to the moon. People were able to agree on basic political views and accomplish deeds that make America what it is today. However, since we conceived the idea of “liberal” and “conservative,” it gave some permission to dehumanize each other. You may not like someone for their opinions; however, when we call each other “bleeding-heart liberals” or “greed-fueled conservatives,” it’s no better than barbarizing an ethnicity. As a result, we can barely focus on what we need to do to save our country. People are so intent on disagreeing with each other over social media like Facebook and Twitter that we are not attempting to find something Americans can agree on. During the French Revolution, France itself was going through an identity crisis. People were so busy opposing factions and killing each other that no one focused on how to secure France’s government. This is repeating today. People who claim that you’re a loudmouthed brute are too egotistical to consider your message because you’re a “conservative fool.”

I don’t feel that you deserve the objections you receive. I feel that nationalism can help America. However, for someone who promises that “America now will be heard,” perhaps it’s time to listen to everyone, not just your supporters. There was a time where there were such things as liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats, and people managed to cooperate to move the country forward. This message is for you and for everyone. America will never progress if we continue counterproductive bickering. You are the president of America, and you won fairly. Instead of squabbling with people on Facebook who may not necessarily agree with you, it might be time to acknowledge and work with your fellow Americans; that is what brought us the amazing success we have seen in the twentieth century.

Sincerely,

Jacob Orloff, Grade 10, Sandy Spring Friends School

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Remembering a Workcamp in Tennessee

Mon, 2017-04-24 09:00

Author (right foreground) with other men campers

Read also: A Weekend Workcamp

Remembering a transformative youth service experience.

Friends Journal

I studied the list of volunteer projects offered by American Friends Service Committee for the summer of 1949, following my junior year of college. Workcamps were planned in communities with needs that could be met by the labor of young idealistic volunteers. Local residents were to provide materials and supervise the labor.

One intrigued me the most. Campers were to build a community center/health clinic in the village of Ozone, Tennessee, where there was no doctor, clinic, or hospital for many miles around. This venture seemed to fit well with my plans for a medical career. I submitted an application with the required deposit.

My parents strongly opposed my idea for a summer away from home, doing heavy physical work for no pay. They set out to convince me to change my mind. I imagine they prayed that my application would be rejected. Weeks passed. One morning I opened a letter from the AFSC and read it aloud at the breakfast table. I was accepted for the Quaker workcamp in Tennessee. My father spoke but two words: “Oh” followed by an expletive that was totally out of character for him, but left no doubt about how he felt about my plan. My parents enlisted my older brother to persuade me that a much wiser way to spend my summer would be to get serious about golf—take lessons, improve my game. In spite of previous lessons, I had remained inferior at the game and found it thoroughly frustrating. The pressure stayed on. A few days before I was to leave for Tennessee, I weakened and made a painful decision to drop out.

My girlfriend, Ella, a fellow student at Penn, shared my idealism and knew all about the workcamp plans. When I told her I was going to drop out of the camp, she immediately responded, “George, you can’t drop out! You’ve got to stick with what you believe in!”

She was right. I would have been miserable all summer if I had backed out. I changed my mind again and a couple of days later I set out, at just 20 years of age, to drive alone from Philadelphia to a part of the country I had never before seen.

Ozone was easy to find. It straddled U.S. highway 70, in the Cumberland Plateau west of Knoxville. Its population was but a few hundred families. I found my way to a three-room white schoolhouse located up a dirt road about a half mile from the highway. This was the site for our camp. I was welcomed by the camp director, Roy Darlington, a young science and math teacher from New Jersey, and his wife, Libby, and soon met the seven other young men and eleven young women with whom I was to spend the next eight weeks. Most of us were college students. One room of the school building would house the women. A second would serve as dining room, kitchen, and general meeting room. What remained of the third room, where school desks were stored, became our laundry room.

The immediate task for the men was to set up a large army tent in an open field close to the school. The tent was just the right size for eight army surplus cots and would be the men’s dormitory. Next to his cot each of us had an orange crate as a makeshift dresser. Around the tent’s perimeter we dug a trench to divert rainwater away from our tent. Well beyond our tent stood two large outhouses: one for men, one for women. It was the first time in my life that I ever saw the inside of an outhouse. Nevertheless, I felt that I could adapt with no difficulty.

The schoolhouse had no running water. Water had to be drawn from a well near the schoolhouse entrance. We lowered a long cylindrical container by rope and pulley into the well, pulled it back up, and emptied the water into buckets. This served all our needs for washing and laundry.

That evening all 23 of us, including the Darlingtons’ two small children, gathered around a long narrow table for dinner. One of the first Quaker traditions we established was a brief period of silence before each meal. I was happy about that. The main dish for the evening meal, however, was a cold tuna fish salad, one of the few foods I really detested. I simply couldn’t eat it. I said nothing, but was very unhappy.

Barbara Bowen, both a camper and a staff person, was the dietitian who planned our meals. Barbara’s budget allowed her to spend 23 cents per meal per person. I could hardly imagine surviving on such a meager sum. Each day a couple of campers were assigned in rotation to kitchen duty to assist with meal preparation and cleanup. Similarly, we would share in laundry duty for the camp on designated days.

That first night I felt very discouraged, almost desperate. So many new things were thrown at me at once. I had never before been to any type of camp for more than a weekend. Now I was at a camp with 22 complete strangers, in a village unlike any I had ever seen, using an outhouse, drawing water from a well, sleeping on a cot in a tent, and needing a flashlight to find my way around at night. Worst of all was the thought of meals like the dinner we had just had. What could be next? Brussels sprouts?

I wondered if I could last eight days, let alone eight weeks! I seriously considered giving up and leaving for home the next day. “I’ll give it one more day,” I said to myself.

The second day was not quite so bad. I felt a little less lonely and out of place. “I’ll give it another day,” I thought to myself again that night. And so it went for the first three days or so, during which I spent a fair amount of my spare time alone and said lots of prayers.

Gradually I became more at ease with the camp situation and found myself enjoying the work, learning camp songs, and happily participating in after-dinner discussions. We exchanged views on issues ranging from war, pacifism, poverty, and college campus life to the future of the world and what we could do about it.

 

As for the work itself, I became increasingly enthusiastic about it. We started early each morning with another Quaker tradition, a half-hour of silence. Although the large majority of us were not Quakers, everyone seemed familiar with Quaker practices and was comfortable with a time of contemplation at the beginning of each day.

The work of building the Adshead Health Center began from scratch. We cut down trees, dug trenches, and mixed the concrete by hand to pour the foundation. We went by truck to gather fieldstones in creek beds and bring them back to the building site. With guidance of a professional mason we chiseled large stones into shape to fit together and cemented them in place. Several experienced community members helped, especially on Saturdays, with large tasks such as putting up the rafters for the roof.

Women participated fully in all the work with the men. This must have impressed the reporter from the Nashville Tennessean for he made particular mention of it in the story he did for that paper’s magazine section, entitled “Hard Work, No Pay,” published September 11, 1949.

Three campers from abroad brought added interest to our daily routine and after-dinner discussions. Dieter Hartwick, from Berlin, acknowledged with a grin the irony of his coming from what was then one of the world’s most devastated cities to help erect a building in the United States. Bertram Headley, from England, was himself a Quaker who had been a conscientious objector during World War II. One insight he shared stuck with me. He contended that, while conscientious objectors could do various jobs within the military, such as driving an ambulance, the only ones who felt they had been totally true to their pacifist convictions were those who chose to go to jail. He reasoned that the ambulance driver was simply freeing up another man to carry a gun.

We had heard of the skepticism with which local people had viewed the arrival of a bunch of radical youths, perhaps even “trash,” some from the north, still others from foreign countries. As they got to know us, however, they saw that, rather than troublemakers, these campers were decent idealistic people who were ready to work hard on a construction project that was actually materializing before their eyes. Their skepticism evaporated. Our relationship with them became warm and friendly.

One evening a storm approached. We all gathered in the schoolhouse and watched it come closer. The rain developed into a downpour so hard that the trench around our tent was totally inadequate to handle it. The inside of the tent rapidly flooded. We ran out to try to rescue some of our belongings. We were soaked. Lightning flashed. Thunder rolled. Winds howled. The tent collapsed! We were distraught.

Unknown to us someone in the community anticipated our plight and made a few phone calls. Roy Darlington passed on the good news. Hosts had been found for all the young men to spend the night. “George, you take Paul Watson and drive over to Rockwood,” Roy directed. “There’s a family that has a spare room in an attic where the two of you are invited to spend the night.” A warm welcome and a comfortable bed awaited us! What started as a disaster ended in a good night’s sleep! We had not been left to fend for ourselves.

The next morning we set up our tent again. This time it survived until the end of the camp.

 

I wrote to my parents frequently to assure them that I was doing okay. I was happy when they wrote back with lighthearted news from home, but I still sensed that they were worried about me. I also corresponded frequently with Ella. I let her know my initial discouragement. She responded with encouragement.

Among the representatives of the AFSC who came by during the summer only one stayed overnight and joined us for breakfast and Friends meeting in the morning. It was David Richie who had led the weekend workcamp I had gone to in Philadelphia three years previously. His was the only familiar face to visit and I was happy to see him. Friends meeting that day included inspiring words from David.

The camp was by no means all work. There were many times just for fun. In the afternoons when we finished at the work site, we often would pile into the three cars which campers had brought and head for a swimming hole at a nearby river or lake.

Our construction work was done Tuesdays through Saturdays. Mondays provided opportunities for educational side trips. One such trip took us to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. For Quakers this was a particularly problematic spot for it was the site of the headquarters of the U.S. wartime atomic energy program known as the Manhattan Project. And this was barely four years after the Hiroshima atomic explosion!

One day we needed to borrow a piece of heavy equipment from the road department. In exchange, we were asked to provide some needed labor to help a crew at a highway repair site. Another camper and I volunteered to be flagmen at either end of the site, stopping traffic first in one direction, then in the other. I thoroughly enjoyed that experience, but I never wrote about it to my parents. I think they would have been very disturbed—first, concerned for my safety and second, wondering if this is what they sent their son to college for.

By the time construction of the community center/health clinic drew to a close, I was fully enjoying every aspect of the workcamp, even kitchen and laundry duty. I realized how much I would miss Ozone and the people I had come to know there, campers and local residents alike. It was hard to imagine, even half way through the camp, that our project could actually be finished in the allotted time. But in the final week or so it all seemed to come together. Although some interior work remained to be done, by the end of our eight weeks in Tennessee the concrete floor, stone walls, doors, windows, and roof were in fact all completed. At one end of the building a band of concrete lined the exterior of the stones above the entrances. On it were inscribed the words “Adshead Health Center.”

I for one was thrilled with a sense of a job well done. A community center/health clinic had been built, and built solidly. And it would serve the people of that area for many years to come. I believe the experience unconsciously solidified my desire to make my life one of service.

All of us had grown through that summer’s experiences and left Ozone with a great sense of accomplishment. I was happy that I had stuck to it in spite of my discouragement at the beginning and grateful for the many things I had learned during the workcamp.

The post Remembering a Workcamp in Tennessee appeared first on Friends Journal.

AFSC’s Centennial: April full issue access

Sat, 2017-04-01 03:00
Members can download the full PDF or read any article online (see links below). Features: Cultivating Peace in Troubled Times by Shan Cretin; Facing Facism, McCarthyism, and the New Jim Crow in 2017 by Laura Magnani; The Courageous Many by Lucy Duncan; Henry Cadbury, AFSC, and Haverford College by David Harrington Watt and James Krippner; Interview with Joyce Ajlouny. Special Feature: Quaker Works. Poetry: Death of a Patient by Geoff Knowlton; Making My Bed🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Among Friends: Happy Birthday, AFSC

Sat, 2017-04-01 02:45

One of the most well-known embodiments of Quaker witness in the world was founded 100 years ago this month. While those involved with Friends understand the complex web of meetings and organizations and associations and initiatives, the outside world often sees American Friends Service Committee as the spokes-organization for Quakers.

Yet relations with the rest of the Religious Society of Friends have been complicated from the beginning. In 1918, cofounder Henry Cadbury was pressured to leave his job at the Quaker Haverford College because he publicly advocated a merciful peace with Germany, a story told here by David Harrington Watt and James Krippner. What would seem to be a very Quakerly sentiment was controversial, even at a Friends school. Remarkably similar debates continue to take place with some frequency.

There are a number of creative tensions built into the DNA and culture of AFSC that have helped it adapt and evolve since its founding in the turmoil of the First World War. In our lead article, current general secretary Shan Cretin reports that AFSC was barely two years old when the Treaty of Versailles ended the fighting and created an existential crisis about whether its work should continue.

The group found that continued purpose in the 1920s, working in relief efforts, combating anti-immigrant sentiment, and working on “home service” efforts around interracial relationships. These are remarkably modern needs indeed and the Service Committee has continued to grow into advocacy work around a host of interrelated social justice issues. Bay Area Friend Laura Magnani gives an inspiring big-picture overview of much of AFSC’s work today. In recent years, AFSC has consciously reached out to Quakers through a Friends Relations program; its director, Lucy Duncan, is a familiar voice to Friends Journal readers, and here she shares the story of that deepening relationship.

I think Quakers form something of the institutional memory of AFSC, a grounding presence that challenges both groups in useful ways. Just before we sent the issue to press, I talked with Joyce Ajlouni, who will become the next AFSC general secretary in September. She grew up as a third-generation graduate of the Friends school in Ramallah, Palestine. I was struck with the genuine joy in her voice as she talked about her love of engaging in difficult conversations—with fellow Quakers, with Zionists, with so-called “alt-right” thinkers. Deep listening and bold conversations are needed now more than ever. I’m confident American Friends Service Committee will continue to be in good hands as it enters its second century.

 

Friends Journal and its predecessor magazines, The Friend and Friends Intelligencer, have been covering AFSC since its founding. Our archives are full of fascinating real-time coverage of many of the stories in this issue. This issue includes Quaker Works, our twice-annual compendium of news from dozens of Quaker organizations around the world. We are thrilled and honored to welcome a new volunteer news editor, Sally Wiedenbeck, who has helped put it together. Hailing from Minneapolis, Minn., she is a convinced Friend who works as an instructional designer for professional education. Her FJ duties also include editing our regular news columns. We are humbled by the many applicants who applied for this position and for the ongoing work of the volunteer editors who help us communicate Quaker experience to you, our readers.

In Friendship,
Martin Kelley
Senior Editor
martink@friendsjournal.org

The post Among Friends: Happy Birthday, AFSC appeared first on Friends Journal.

Forum April 2017

Sat, 2017-04-01 02:40
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The post Forum April 2017 appeared first on Friends Journal.

Cultivating Peace in Troubled Times

Sat, 2017-04-01 02:35

AFSC provided relief to coal mining families in West Virginia, 1934.

The divisive, antagonistic, violent climate of our times can be challenging and discouraging for Friends. Not only in the United States but around the world, populist political movements have capitalized on fears of “violent extremism,” growing income inequality, and economic stagnation by closing doors to immigrants and refugees. They also have adopted nationalistic, isolationist stands on trade and foreign policy. How do we act on our commitment to speak to that of God in everyone and to live lives that promote peace and justice for all? Can Quakers offer spiritually grounded leadership that unites our theologically diverse religious society?

The Early Years of the Service Committee

AFSC was born in turbulent times. Minutes from the April 30, 1917 meeting at which AFSC was founded—just three weeks after the United States entered the First World War—document “requests continually coming in as to what Friends can do in this crisis.”

The prevailing narrative then, as now, was that democracy was threatened, and the only response was to use military force. Spurred by the vision of three young men in their 20s, theologically diverse Quaker yearly meetings came together, united by their commitment to the peace testimony, to do something that exceeded their individual capacities, something global. In a time when military service was promoted as the only way to make the world “safe for democracy,” Friends offered an alternative form of service for peace.

The immediate result of that April meeting was a centrally coordinated project that inspired the active participation of Friends from across the United States. One hundred young people trained at Haverford College in June 1917, and were working in France by September, addressing needs of those displaced by war.

Once the war ended with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, there was ongoing discussion of laying down the Service Committee. The conclusion was clear: “We should not go on unless we are sure that we have a vital mission to perform” (Rufus Jones, from the minutes of the September 25, 1924 meeting of the executive board).

Many of those returning from service in Europe were clear that a vital mission still called for a response from Friends. They wanted to do more than relief after war—they wanted to prevent war and to build a foundation for peace. AFSC workers in Germany after the armistice felt the seeds of future war in the injustice that was punishing German children for the sins of their fathers. The hope for peace and justice was not much better in the United States where the end of the Great War did not result in the democracy promised in the recruiting posters.

The United States in 1919 was in the grip of anti-immigrant (not just anti-German) fear fueled by acts of politicized violence, much as today. On May 1, 1919, newspaper headlines reported on a plot by anarchist followers of Italian Luigi Galleani who had sent letter bombs to 36 U.S. leaders. Following a call to “close the gate” on “undesirable” foreign immigrants, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer conducted raids, arresting and deporting many Slav and Italian immigrants labeled as anarchists, communists, and radical leftists.

In 1921, Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act, which severely restricted immigration until lawmakers could agree on a “permanent solution.” The Immigration Act of 1924 (Johnson–Reed Act) was passed and reluctantly signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge. Even more restrictive than the Emergency Quota Act, the 1924 law put an outright ban on Arab and Asian immigrants.

The First Red Scare included brutal responses to union efforts to improve working conditions. In West Virginia, for example, striking coal miners were locked out by mine owners until they and their families faced starvation.

African Americans continued to be, in the words of Langston Hughes, “The rock on which Freedom / Stumped its toe.” As he so poignantly wrote:

There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”

Instead there were race riots, lynchings, and the rise of the second Ku Klux Klan—and not only in the Jim Crow South.

Given the climate of the times, it is no wonder that in 1924 Friends embraced the need to engage in “home service,” while continuing “the message side of our work” and relief efforts in post-war Europe and Russia. “America has not learned the lesson of the war, nor has our own Society learned it. We are still thin and superficial in these deepest issues of life.” One of the lessons yet to be learned was “interracial relationship, a new spirit of understanding and fellowship between different racial groups, particularly, of course, Negroes, Japanese and Italians” (letter from J. Edgar Rhoads to Rufus Jones, 9/30/1924).

Putting Quaker Faith into Action over 100 Years

AFSC’s mission and vision today arise from the same spirit articulated in the 1920s. Then, as now, the Service Committee saw itself as reflecting the peace and social justice concerns of Friends and offering support, focus, and inspiration to the ongoing witness of Friends meetings and churches.

AFSC works to build a firm foundation for lasting peace by partnering with diverse communities, by healing and restoring broken relationships, and by transforming unjust systems. The Service Committee is unusual as an international faith-based organization in that it does not proselytize—a legacy of the diversity of the founding yearly meetings who would not have been able to agree on the branch of Quakerism to which new disciples should be brought. Instead, from the outset, AFSC sought to share our Quaker faith by letting our work and our lives speak.

AFSC had neither the aspiration nor the resources to replace the important local witness for peace and social concerns that should be part of every Quaker meeting and church. Rather, the Service Committee offered a global perspective, weaving together issues and experiences encountered in places across the United States and around the world. Friends work on many individual peace and justice issues, and we do our best work when we remember the connections among them. As abolitionist John Woolman observed in his work to end slavery, “the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions.” Two centuries later, Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us again that living our faith requires a moral revolution that will conquer the “giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism.”

Over many decades AFSC’s work on Middle East peace has evolved, exposing its ties to work on racial justice in the United States and South Africa. Making these uncomfortable connections can help us confront our own racism, colonialism, and privilege. Living up to the Light that we are given at a moment in history requires that we faithfully persist, with the courage to stumble and the humility to learn.

Allan Austin reviewed the rocky road of AFSC’s work on racism from its earliest days in Quaker Brotherhood: Interracial Activism and the American Friends Service Committee, 1917–1950. From the Institute of Race Relations started at Swarthmore College in 1933 through the 1959 sponsorship of Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to India to connect with Gandhi’s disciples through the publication of Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham City Jail in 1963 to today’s vibrant work with Youth Undoing Institutional Racism, AFSC struggles with its limitations as an historically white, Eurocentric religious organization with structures and practices that create barriers for people of color. Yet we persist, and in our persistence, we can celebrate our individual and organizational progress.

Working in the Middle East has also been a difficult journey, beginning in 1948 when the United Nations asked AFSC to begin administering relief to refugees in Gaza. Naïvely expecting the refugees to return to their homes within a year, AFSC has since come to a much deeper understanding of the tangled history of Palestine and Israel, of the role of European colonial powers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the history of anti-Semitism (aimed at both Arabs and Jews), and the ongoing role of American foreign policy and corporate interests.

The treatment of Palestinians by occupying Israel Defense Forces at checkpoints evokes the “stop and frisk” experiences in Black and Latino communities in the United States by police and justice agencies who have no accountability to the people they are supposed to serve. Empathy works in both directions: Palestinian youth in the throes of the September 2014 war in Gaza found time to offer their support for Black Lives Matter on social media. Today the Movement for Black Lives platform supports Palestinian rights. As Quakers surely understand, we are all connected, deserving children of God. None of us is secure until all of us are secure. Injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere.

The ongoing impasse on the future of Palestine and Israel had already contributed to anti-Muslim and anti-Arab propaganda in the United States. Today’s prevailing narrative in media and entertainment reinforces the premise that we are “good guys” under attack from evil terrorists who can only be subdued by force. As Friends, we know from our faith and our experience that there is another, truer story to be told, and we are called to tell that story through our lives and our work.

Finding a Witness for Our Times

Faced with worldly challenges to our core values, we can choose to become the embodiment of an approach Martin Luther King Jr. called “creative maladjustment.” Dr. King understood that a lifelong commitment to nonviolence is not a sweet and gentle thing. “We all want to live the well-adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic personalities,” he said in 1963:

but there are some things within our social order to which I am proud to be maladjusted, and to which I call all people of good will to be maladjusted until the good society is realized. I must confess that I will never adjust myself to segregation and discrimination. I will never become adjusted to religious bigotry. I will never adjust myself to economic conditions that take necessities from the many and give luxuries to the few….I never intend to adjust to the madness of militarism.

American Friends Service Committee has been creatively maladjusted for 100 years. Staff, community partners, Quaker allies, volunteers, committee members, and donors—we are passionately engaged in the world as it is—here and now, warts and all—without accepting the warts or adjusting to the all. We refuse to adjust to violence and injustice. We are energized by the power of working in partnership with Friends meetings and churches to spread creative nonviolent approaches to seemingly intractable problems.

AFSC has never had the resources or intention to staff the social action of local meetings and churches. Instead, we support Quaker witness more broadly with resources at our website, the Acting in Faith blog, workshops at Friends General Conference, and networks like the Quaker Network to End Mass Incarceration or the Quaker Palestine Israel Network. Last year we piloted the Quaker Social Change Ministry to help meetings embrace social witness as an integral part of a larger spiritual journey. Friends’ oversight of and partnership with AFSC, in turn, remind us to pursue work from a Spirit-led center.

In recent months, Friends are embracing a new sanctuary movement, offering refuge to immigrants threatened with detention and deportation. This new movement follows in the spirit of the 1980s sanctuary movement that sheltered refugees from the Central American wars, with deep and broad support from Friends. In 2014, AFSC helped establish Colorado’s Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition and prepare its members to offer sanctuary. After discernment, Mountain View Meeting in Denver joined the coalition, and late last November welcomed a young Peruvian woman with an eight-year-old citizen son into sanctuary. In North Carolina, AFSC is sponsoring an initiative called Sanctuary Everywhere to create various safe spaces, allowing more people to support sanctuary at whatever level they feel ready to engage. Sanctuary Everywhere is not limited to immigrants and refugees, but also supports Muslim and Jewish communities, the Movement for Black Lives, and the LGBTQIA community.

As the American Friends Service Committee, we feel a special responsibility to help our country find new approaches to foreign and domestic policy that will serve global and domestic peace. The Shared Security framework developed jointly by AFSC and Friends Committee on National Legislation is proving to be a powerful basis for working with Friends and partners internationally. Shared Security also offers a way to understand—and bridge—the faultlines sharply dividing our own country. To build an inclusive and respectful society, we must live and work in ways that are inclusive and respectful by reaching out to all who have been denied the opportunities, agency, and respect that would allow them to feel secure.

Despite the challenges of the times, Friends draw hope from our lived experience that faithful, courageous, loving witness for peace can and will overcome fear and hate. Do Friends dare become leaders for peace and justice? Dare we be optimistic in dark times? How can we refuse?

The post Cultivating Peace in Troubled Times appeared first on Friends Journal.

Facing Fascism, McCarthyism, and the New Jim Crow in 2017

Sat, 2017-04-01 02:30

On the Sunday following the 2016 election, I had been invited to preach at a United Church of Christ congregation north of San Francisco. The original assignment had to do with the “Good News” about prison-related issues, Good News being a reflection on the Bible passages for that day. I had to scrap most of the draft I had been working on. After all, the Good News has never been about triumphalism—certainly not about winning elections; it is about liberation.

For too long we have put our faith in political leaders, and this was never more strongly embodied than in this particular national election cycle. Every mainstream media outlet seemed all-consumed with candidate politics, and largely ignored issues. The United States’ obsession with personalities catapulted the most unlikely candidates to the forefront. A Quaker understanding of leadership and a refusal to embrace hierarchy left many of us out in the cold. How can the country’s hopes and dreams be wrapped up in a single person, whether he is the first African American president, the first woman president, or a billionaire TV reality show star? Yet this constant diet of electoral junk food left us intellectually depleted, and hyper on hatred and demonization.

So when the post-election reality hit, people were grieving, listless, disoriented, and largely immobilized. Neither party garnered the public’s trust. Although the term “populism” was bandied about, neither candidate recognized the dominant theme for most voters: the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

Voter turnout was the lowest in 20 years at around 55 percent of eligible voters. We know that in many states formerly incarcerated people are kept from the polls, and that in many states concerted efforts were made to drop people of color from the rolls. The number of polling stations was drastically reduced in some locations. The sheer complexity of ballots in many states overwhelmed many potential new voters, and, in the end, the popular vote was discarded in favor of the antiquated electoral college. Democracy, if it has ever truly been in play, is hanging by a thread.

Dustin Washington, an AFSC staff person in the Seattle, Washington, office blogged about the situation:

No matter who has been president, from George Washington to Barack Obama, the material conditions and racialized oppression of people of color and the poor has not changed. The U.S. presidency is not a position to create liberation for the oppressed but a position to maintain the current economic rule of the one percent. History and this election proves that the ruling class will always use racism to ensure that the rule of the elite stays in place.

It is hard to tell whether what we are seeing in the unfolding new administration is some kind of caricature with person after person nominated to fill positions for which they have no qualifications (for instance, placing a respected surgeon in charge of housing rather than in a health position or as surgeon general) or whether what is unfolding is actually apocalyptic.

It is fair to say that many people voted for the “end times”: the end of government, the end of joblessness, or the end of congressional deadlock. But to see this as caricature is to trivialize it in ways that will not serve us. Given the desperate problems facing the planet and the desperate problems of vulnerable communities and all people of color, we must confront this new reality with utmost seriousness. Are we looking at a very frightening new world order or at the last gasp of white supremacy?

There’s little doubt that the mainstay of the junk food diet of this election—the sweetened beverage, if you will—was racism. It was served up on a daily basis whether in the form of Islamophobia, immigrant bashing, bringing back the discredited stop-and-frisk policies of New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, the nostalgia for “law and order,” or the drumbeat for building a wall along the southern border with Mexico. This is only a partial list, and much of it is coded language for more Jim Crow policies and permission to express violence, hatred, and overt racism.

Of equal concern is extreme right wing movements being voted in by countries all over the world. Whether in Syria, the Philippines, the Brexit vote in Britain, Greece, Turkey, Venezuela and other Latin American countries, or many parts of Africa, the trend repeats itself. And it is consistently accompanied by fear of refugees who are flooding Europe in search of hope and safety. Some people have responded with radical hospitality and generosity; other have heaped hatred onto the strangers seeking shelter. The United States hasn’t even considered opening its doors or its budgets to assist.

It is both the times we are in and the times we have been in throughout the history of the United States, a country founded on genocide of indigenous peoples and cultures, powered up by relocated enslaved labor, and enriched by stolen land from Mexico and First Nations; it is a daunting legacy to overcome. Adding the impact of jobs lost or downgraded, a shrinking middle class, and housing disappearing to all but the wealthiest, the race to find people to blame kicks into high gear. We know all too well from the punishment culture that easy blame takes over and turns toward people of color, poor people, and anyone afraid of being at the bottom. Why is it that people always want to identify with the very wealthy rather than to think about the kind of world that could make them safe and healthy?

Signs and Wonders

In spite of these dire circumstances, there are places where creative acts are having powerful impact. They draw leaders from those directly affected by oppressive conditions; demonstrate exciting, new forms of unity decision making; and show ways to build the beloved community.

Standing Rock

From September 23 to September 27, 2016, American Friends Service Committee sent a delegation to visit the prayer camps that had been constructed along the Cannonball River adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation and within unceded treaty territory. On each of the four days, they visited the camps and met with people who provided both leadership and service to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). They found the camps to be places of resilience and healing, dedicated to building and maintaining a decolonized society grounded in Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota culture and ceremony.

The actions at Standing Rock to stop the pipeline have much to teach about what is possible in building a better world, guided by Spirit; following leadership from people directly affected by a situation; and practicing decolonized methods of analyzing problems and finding solutions. Their report and findings can be found at afsc.org, where the complete report is available (search for the report title, “We Are Our Own Medicine”).

Another delegation to Standing Rock numbered 4,000 veterans who arrived in early December, as law enforcement threatened to shut down the camps. They came from all over the country and had many different political perspectives; they intended to protect (not protest) the “water protectors.” In the end, the Army Corps of Engineers decided to withdraw the permit for the company to drill in that sacred area and endanger the water and the earth. It was extraordinary that veterans were seen in a different light: trying to be of service in a desperate situation, experimenting with nonviolence, and following indigenous leadership. Could there be a new relationship between peace movements and soldiers, who have been demonized as war makers, and a new way of building community across differences?

Black Lives Matter

Although it has taken countless tragedies of African American men and women killed by police to galvanize people across the country to say “enough” and to declare that “black lives matter,” this national grassroots movement is now growing and deepening. AFSC has endorsed The Movement for Black Lives platform, which includes six demands: policy.m4bl.org/platform. AFSC is encouraging Friends meetings to consider endorsing this platform and formulating actions based on it.

As with the process unfolding at Standing Rock, this Movement for Black Lives is highly decentralized with leadership coming from the grassroots. As cofounder Patrisse Cullors describes it, “It is not leaderless but leader-full.” It has already changed the narrative around race in this country and, like the Black Panther movement of the 1960s, is pushing for serious systemic change that will change all our lives, focusing on underlying economic causes.

Undocumented and Unafraid

With youth at the helm, we have entered a new era for U.S. residents who are undocumented. Up until now, many assumed that fear would keep people in the shadows and leave the door open for unbridled exploitation. Yet in program after program, AFSC-connected youth with their spoken word messages and re-envisioned stories are teaching their elders how to come out of the closet, and are changing not only the narrative about immigration but policies as well. No human being is illegal, and each one has a dream.

Hunger Strikes and the Fight Against Solitary Confinement

AFSC has been working to shut down supermax prisons since they began in 1972. They are a special kind of prison used exclusively for long-term isolation and sensory deprivation. However not until prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, Calif., went on hunger strike—three times—to call attention to the conditions they faced did real change begin to occur around the country. As of this writing, 2,500 people in California have been transferred to general population and out of solitary confinement.

A Legacy to Lean On

We now face an historic time that requires all of us to step up; find our voices; and resist efforts to rape the earth, further desecrate sacred lands, demonize whole communities, and squander the public treasury. AFSC is uniquely situated to rise to the occasion in which we find ourselves. Indeed, we have been at the forefront of movements for 100 years, which has yielded important experience, as well as commitment and constituents to answer the call.

Human Migration and Mobility

Sanctuary Everywhere has become the clarion call of our immigration and refugee programs around the world. The lessons learned in our work with imprisoned Japanese citizens and noncitizens after the bombing of Pearl Harbor can be applied to situations requiring Muslims to register or those from Muslim countries who are blocked from entering the United States. Quakers have dealt with religious discrimination and the incarceration of “the other” to create an illusion of safety. AFSC’s alternative actions are already underway:

  1. Through the “Local Peace Networks” methodology, community leaders use conflict analysis and participatory planning and dialogue to address the root causes of conflict, including economic exclusion, gender-based violence, bullying, street violence, and natural disasters.
  2. AFSC’s Newark, New Jersey, office provides legal services to undocumented peoples, and organizes communities to resist harmful policies. They ask, “Will New Jersey’s undocumented students be punished for following the rules?” (NJ Spotlight newsletter article, December 19, 2016).
  3. Along the same lines, an increasing number of Friends meetings are providing sanctuary to people in danger of deportation. Go to afsc.org/sanctuaryeverywhere.
Healing Justice

After many decades of working against the penal system in the United States, in all its punitive and violent forms, AFSC has been experimenting boldly with restorative justice methods that can replace the existing carceral system. Examples include the following:

  • a Truth and Reconciliation process with Wabanaki chiefs in Maine, to examine the atrocities committed in boarding schools
  • an analysis by youth in AFSC-sponsored Freedom Schools around the country of systems that perpetuate violence and injustice, in which they learn about social change movements
  • a development of leadership for change by Youth Undoing Institutional Racism

Transformation in history doesn’t come from comfort and contentment; it comes when all else has failed. This includes the signature revelation of Friends founder, George Fox, when recounted in his Journal:

And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could I tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said, “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition”; and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. . . . and this I knew experimentally.

Whether or not these revelations come to us today in Christian terms or in other forms, the way forward will have to be bold, creative, and experimental, and the answers will not come from politicians or any of the usual sources. It is time to reach across many of the old barriers and make common cause with our fellow humans before the earth is destroyed, before more people are rounded up and deported, before even more are incarcerated.

The times we find ourselves in are extremely serious; they look like fascism, McCarthyism, capitalism on steroids, or even all of these. And we must not be mesmerized by the daily drama or the myth that it is mostly happening in Washington, D.C. The stakes are too high for tinkering or reform. Radical transformation from the ground up is required of us.

It will require working at every level, from the personal to the systemic, and asking the biggest possible questions about what kind of world we want. AFSC is stepping up to do its own soul searching of what it has meant to be a mostly white organization in “the nonprofit industrial complex,” and how our vision and structures need to change to remain on the cutting edge.

Bill Ayers, in his new book Demand the Impossible!, says:

It’s up to each and all of us to arise every day with our minds set on freedom, and to commit to movement building as a regular and required part of what we do.

This is a wake-up call for all of us, and it is truly an all-hands-on-deck time. It won’t be a peace movement, as we’ve known it, or the Civil Rights Movement either. It will be many new things, led from the bottom: experimental, dynamic, and energizing. Participatory democracy isn’t a one-time inoculation; it is work that must be done by each of us every day. And further, it is work that cannot flow simply from anger or reaction; it must reach to the deepest places of love and compassion. We can’t practice radical activism, without also tapping into our sense of joy and beauty.

The post Facing Fascism, McCarthyism, and the New Jim Crow in 2017 appeared first on Friends Journal.

The Courageous Many

Sat, 2017-04-01 02:25
Quakers and AFSC Work Together for Peace with Justice

I began my work as Friends Liaison with American Friends Service Committee in August 2011. In September the Occupy Wall Street movement erupted, and a large encampment was created here in Philadelphia at City Hall. I had planned to spend the first three or four months in my new position listening to staff and to Quakers about their vision for a collaborative partnership between AFSC and Friends. It was clear the distance between the two groups had become a habit, and avenues for working together had become scant.

As the Occupy encampment emerged on Dilworth Plaza at City Hall, there began a way to experiment with a different type of relationship with Friends, at least local Philadelphia Friends. AFSC bought a large tent—almost embarrassingly spacious—and provided some leadership in scheduling activities in what would become the Interfaith Tent at Occupy Philadelphia. We arranged events inside the tent, hosted a revolutionary nonviolence series in collaboration with Philadelphia Yearly Meeting at Friends Center, and supported all those who showed up to cook meals for participants at Central Philadelphia Meeting’s large kitchen. We participated in town hall meetings in the tent and hosted Jesse Jackson when he came to town. Until the end, when the bulldozers came to shut down the encampment, Quakers were there.

I had just begun the Acting in Faith blog, and for months, Quakers and AFSC staff wrote about the movement. Noah Baker Merrill’s post “We are All Moses” received over 1,000 page views, which for us was a large readership at the time. We helped to connect and support Friends across the country who were supporting the emerging movement. I recognize and share the critique that followed, particularly around race issues. This was, however, an experiment in relating to Friends, and it helped set the direction for years to come.

When I asked Quakers what they wanted in terms of an enlivened partnership with AFSC, they said, “Please ask us to get involved in ways other than giving you money.” They cited the way Quaker meetings were draft counseling centers during the Vietnam War, and expressed a longing for this kind of collective witness.

When I asked AFSC staff what they envisioned, they said, “We are smaller now. Can Quaker meetings help us to move forward on the issues we work on? Can Quaker meetings be like small social justice centers helping us further our work?”

Those early experiments with the Occupy movement and those interviews formed the basis for all the ways we’ve tried since then to connect Friends and AFSC, to stoke the fire of powerful, Spirit-led activism. Workcamps were mentioned often as powerful, transformative spaces. Although AFSC was clear that hosting privileged people to work with impacted communities was not going to be our approach, hearing people’s desire for transforming experience has informed the vision we have been working to enact since then.

Another goal of this work has been to encourage and support Quaker meetings in reclaiming collective social change and peace work. While many Quakers are engaged, most of the activity in the past decades has come from individuals or from meetings’ minutes of exercise, rather than a collective witness of Quakers working together for change. In some ways, Quakers subcontracted prophetic witness to AFSC. Instead of working for social change as working for Quakers, a core part of the Service Committee’s aim became the emboldening and supporting of Quakers to walk on their own terms with AFSC and social justice movements, to reclaim social change witness as a spiritual commitment.

So, what have we built? We have built spaces for that relationship: spaces in which AFSC staff can teach and learn from Quakers, and Quakers can teach and learn from AFSC staff. We have built ways to engage with one another, ways to support movement building and taking action together for social change.

 

Acting in Faith (afsc.org/friends)

We have published over 300 Acting in Faith posts by Friends, activists, and staff, and we have received nearly 346,000 unique page views since we started the blog, 161,000 in the past year. As it was the first part of AFSC’s website to provide the opportunity for commenting, it has been a place for conversation, critique, dialogue, and exchange. One post, Vonn New’s “Note to self: White people taking part in #BlackLivesMatter protests,” has received on its own over 90,000 unique page views, the most read page ever on AFSC’s website.

 

Calls for Spirited Action (afsc.org/spiritedaction)

For nine months each year, we host monthly calls focused on key issues and ways to become involved in faith-based activism. These calls have been informal times for exchange and conversation. In December 2016 we hosted a call with AFSC’s Jamie Bissonette Lewey on Standing Rock and had 52 people participating; in January we hosted a call on the topic Sanctuary Everywhere, in which we discussed a new framework for activism. More than 70 people participated. These calls offer expertise and connection with Quakers across the country working together for change.

 

Acting in Faith with AFSC at the FGC Gathering (afsc.org/fgc)

An idea for a meeting between AFSC and Quakers came from a member of our Friends Relation Committee: a Common Ground meeting where AFSC and Quakers would learn about an issue and build power and skill together. This has been a core strategy vision in the last few years and is most vividly manifested at a mini conference within the Friends General Conference Gathering. We offer a four- or five-day, 15-hour workshop on topics ranging from “Living into Racial Justice” to “Immigrant Testimony and Action Tools” to “Economic Activism for Peace and Justice.” We run a full events schedule in the afternoon featuring AFSC’s and Quakers’ work for justice. We always host a panel on racism among Friends, have had George Lakey present on his latest book, and Paula Palmer on her research on Quaker involvement with Indian boarding schools. We offer two or three interest groups, and this coming year we are offering a plenary address titled “You Just Have to be Human: Following the Leadings of Spirit toward Liberation.” This space offers time to engage with one another deeply and to come together to prepare for action. One participant said, “These [AFSC events] are so hope-giving. To be able to see AFSC’s relevance to Quaker values before our eyes, and to be brought up to date on issues/work they’ve given careful discernment to that I haven’t even noticed yet—priceless!”

 

Travel among Friends (afsc.org/inviteafsc)

When I started my work in 2011, AFSC had a reputation for having staff show up at yearly meetings to make presentations and then leave. So it was a priority to encourage connections between AFSC staff and Quakers at yearly meetings. To that end, I run a yearly meeting visitors program that encourages staff to stay for the full sessions and build relationships as well as offer AFSC resources. Through this program, I’ve seen relationships deepen and lay the ground for powerful partnerships. For example, Lis-Marie Alvarado visited Southeastern Yearly Meeting, and now Miami Friends are ready to lead Sanctuary efforts in the area. I also coordinate staff visitation to monthly meetings during the year and have found those events powerful occasions for relationship building, mobilization, and connection.

 

Undoing racism among Friends

Because discrimination and racism are key causes of war and violence, and because this is a rising concern among Friends, we have prioritized a goal to awaken to the impacts and work to end racism since the first days of our Friends Relations work. We’ve written about racism and white supremacy extensively, led workshops, made presentations, created a curriculum (“Denormalizing Whiteness for Racial Justice”), and offered the art installation “39 Questions for White People” by Naima Lowe as a resource for fostering conversations and insight. One meeting said of the exhibit, “The discussion was spontaneous. The questions triggered memories and events from participants . . . the PR and buzz this installation created brought new people into our meeting.” For me, this work is a primary spiritual commitment, deeply connected to our journey toward spiritual wholeness.

 

Partnerships with other Quaker organizations

A core strategy from the beginning of our work has been to be in community with Friends where they are: from yearly meetings to Quaker Facebook groups to the FGC Gathering to Friends World Committee for Consultation events to Quaker journals. To further this effort, we have collaborated with other Quaker organizations on mutually beneficial work: one joint effort has been four QuakerSpeak videos with Friends Journal, which have received over 36,000 views. We’ve regularly sent articles for publication to Quaker journals (especially Friends Journal, as for this centennial issue). We’ve cosponsored two conferences with Pendle Hill, one on the U.S. prison system (Ending Mass Incarceration) and one on restorative justice practices (Beyond Crime and Punishment). We’ve partnered with Quaker Voluntary Service in hosting alumni Fellows the past two years. Supporting one another’s missions and stoking the fire for Spirit-led activism works best when we work together.

 

Quaker Social Change Ministry (afsc.org/qscm)

When we started to provide resources and offer trainings around core issues to Friends, we did so with a sense that Quakers were equipped for community organizing and moving the issue forward. While there are some amazing Quaker organizers around, many of them work outside their meetings. True collective social justice work within meetings was far rarer than I anticipated. We started to look for ways to foster such activism and were led to a model based on Parker Palmer’s Circles of Trust that was developed by Unitarian ministers in Denver: Spirit-based, small group social change work based on accompaniment. This past year we piloted the model with five meetings and built out the resources for support.

A Quaker Social Change Ministry group is a place to worship, build trust, take risks, make mistakes, learn together, and deepen the connection between social change and spiritual growth. The QSCM group becomes a home base from which Friends engage with the world and return for reflection, discussion, and renewal. QSCM connects Friends to that which is larger than ourselves and calls us into right relationship as we walk beside our partners and endeavor to co-create the beloved community. Participants in the pilot found that the program deepened their connections and their work. Quaker Social Change Ministry has filled a need in Quaker meetings for Spirit-led ministry and for a desire for a deeper relationship with AFSC.

These are some of the mechanisms and spaces we’ve created to foster a deeper, transforming relationship with Friends. There are more ways to engage with us, you can find them all at afsc.org/friendsengage.

 

At this moment we stand eager to support Friends who seem ready for a deeper level of engagement in the current political context. We are excited to support the courageous many who are ready to step into what Parker Palmer calls the “tragic gap, the gap between the hard realities around us and what we know is possible.”

What we can create together if we are courageous and support one another is no less than deep transformation of ourselves and of society. What we are called to is what Noah Baker Merrill wrote six years ago about being called to be faithful together:

Something I know from experience is that we can’t truly “answer that of God in every one” in the abstract, in some vague distant world of analysis and political ideology that hovers aloof above the fray, as if Quakers are somehow too good at nonviolent social change to actually get involved. I think we have fallen into this too often. Margaret Fell might call this “having the form of godliness, but not the power.” It can look pretty good, but it’s hollow where it matters.

We can answer that of God in this moment so pregnant with expectation by being willing to know and work with our neighbors, all those people who for whatever reason are feeling the call to be part of this emerging newness, amidst so much apathy and despair. We can do it by being willing to enter into relationship, to participate in the messy, confusing, turbulent way that movements happen. . . . We have to participate if we are to be changed.

The post The Courageous Many appeared first on Friends Journal.

Henry Cadbury, AFSC, and Haverford College

Sat, 2017-04-01 02:20
The Perils of Pacifist Dissent During World War I

Founders Hall of Haverford College, Pennsylvania. © Tlonorbis via Wikimedia.

On April 28, 1917, the Senate and the House of Representatives both approved bills that instituted a military draft. The two bills were reconciled on May 16 and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson two days later. The law Wilson signed—the Selective Service Act—did not explicitly bar the United States government from drafting members of the peace churches into the military. Instead, it left open the possibility of their being drafted into the military and assigned noncombatant duties. What did and did not count as noncombatant duties was left to the discretion of the President.

On April 30, 15 Quakers met in Philadelphia and created what was first called National Friends Service Committee. (The name was changed to American Friends Service Committee that May.) The committee adopted a minute that said the following:

We are united in expressing our love for our country and our desire to serve her loyally. We offer our services to the government of the United States in any constructive work in which we can conscientiously serve our country.

The idea, of course, was to suggest that the nation ought to be able to find ways of having Quakers serve their country that did not involve serving in the military.

The meeting was convened by a 33-year-old Quaker named Henry J. Cadbury. Cadbury was an associate professor of biblical literature and Greek at Haverford College. He had recently married an outspoken young Quaker, Lydia Caroline Brown. Two months after AFSC was created, Lydia gave birth to a daughter and named her Elizabeth. Both Lydia and Henry came from well-known Quaker families. Henry was related to the branch of the Cadbury family who had made a fortune manufacturing and selling chocolate in England. His immediate family in the United States was also fairly prosperous. He had been educated at William Penn Charter School, Haverford College, and Harvard University, and was highly regarded as a scholar of the New Testament with particular expertise in the books of Luke and Acts. In 1918, there were few if any Quakers living in the United States whose scholarly credentials were stronger than Cadbury’s.

It seems entirely fitting that Cadbury convened the first meeting of what soon became American Friends Service Committee. Cadbury (together with his brother-in-law Rufus Jones) played a huge role in shaping the early history of AFSC, chairing the committee from 1928 to 1934 and from 1944 to 1960. When Quakers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947, it was Cadbury who traveled to Oslo to accept the award on behalf of AFSC. (It is also significant to note the historic role that Haverford College faculty played in founding AFSC, which is celebrating its hundredth anniversary this month.)

The year after he helped to create AFSC, Henry Cadbury spoke out advocating for peace, and thus became embroiled in a controversy that led to his being forced to resign from the faculty of Haverford College. It was occasioned by peace overtures that the leaders of Germany sent to the Allies in the autumn of 1918. Many Americans viewed these efforts with deep suspicion. The war was going well for the Allies, and they sensed a decisive victory might be close at hand. And in the autumn of 1918, many Americans were filled with a deep hatred of the German nation.

Consider, for example, an editorial that was published in one of Philadelphia’s leading newspapers—the Public Ledger—on October 7. It praised the many Americans who were demanding “a short, sharp, and plain” rejection of the German peace feelers. It asserted that the peace that the Kaiser was offering was nothing more than a “Judas peace.” “The Hun tribes” had, the editorial said, wreaked havoc wherever they fought. Their cruelty had to be punished harshly.

Five days later, the Public Ledger published a letter from Cadbury strenuously denouncing Americans’ reluctance to look for ways to bring the war to a halt:

Sir—As a Christian and patriotic American may I raise one cry of protest in your columns against the orgy of hate in which the American press and public indulges on the receipt of peace overtures from the enemy. Whatever the immediate result of the present German request for an armistice, the spirit of implacable hatred and revenge exhibited by many persons in this country indicates that it is our nation which is the greatest obstacle to a clean peace and the least worthy of it. Never in the period of his greatest arrogance and success did the German Kaiser and Junkers utter more heathen and bloodthirsty sentiments than appear throughout our newspapers today. Intoxicated with the first taste of blood and flushed with victory, the American public hastens to condemn in advance the soberly phrased pleas of a conciliatory foe. While the English press wisely refrains from comment until an official answer can be given, Americans with insatiable lust for vengeance cry, “More, more!” Every concession on the part of the enemy is counted a mark of weakness and is made an excuse for more humiliating and unreasonable demands. While the war-weary people of Europe long for peace, we conceited newcomers into the fight prefer to sacrifice their youth and ours by the millions more in order that we may dictate a peace to suit our insane hysteria. Surely it behooves us at this hour, when not relation for the past but the assurance of a safer and saner international fellowship is the world’s need, distinguishing justice and mercy from blind revenge, to keep ourselves in the mood of moderation and fair play. A peace on other terms or in any other spirit will be no peace at all, but the curse of the future.

 

Cadbury’s letter caused an immediate uproar. A government official met with him to investigate the possibility that writing the letter constituted an act of sedition. (The official concluded that the letter was not seditious.) The minister of a prominent Presbyterian church asserted that Cadbury was quite wrong to think that he had any right to think of himself as either a patriot or a Christian. A Baptist layperson said that Cadbury was wrong to say that Americans’ hostility toward the Germans was irrational. That hostility was, the Baptist said, a perfectly reasonable response to the atrocious way that Germans had conducted themselves during the war.

In 1918, most of Haverford’s faculty were Quakers. The president of the college at the time, William Wistar Comfort, was also a member of the Religious Society of Friends. So were all of the members of the Board of Managers that oversaw the work of the college. Some of the members of the board came from families that had contributed money to AFSC. The board, whose chair was a Quaker businessman named Asa S. Wing, had allowed AFSC to set up a camp where young Quakers could be trained for non-military forms of service. The board had refused to allow its campus to be used as a site for military training. Nevertheless, despite the institutional prominence of Quakers at Haverford College in this era, significant support for militarism existed on campus and throughout the country. The college tried to reconcile its Quaker origins and ideals with views of the larger community of which it was a part.

Even at this relatively early date, many Haverford College students and alumni were not Friends. Some of them were already in the military; others were in the process of joining it. And some of the college’s students and alumni were shocked by the letter that Cadbury had written to the Public Ledger. Twenty-seven of the college’s alumni, all of whom had graduated from Haverford between 1880 and 1908, wrote the board a note expressing their displeasure. Those men said that they believed that peace was good, but that the kind of peace they wanted to achieve was one that was “just and righteous.” They said that in light of the “bestial” actions of the Germans, the views Cadbury expressed in his letter amounted to “treason.” Cadbury was, in their opinion, “unworthy” to be a member of the college’s faculty. They advised the board to ask for Cadbury’s immediate resignation from the faculty. One of the other letters referred to Cadbury as a “canker.” Another argued that if the college supported Cadbury, then it would alienate many of its most important alumni. Alienating those men was not, the letter writer warned, something that the college could afford to do.

 

Cadbury seems to have been taken aback by the furor his letter created. He seemed not to have contemplated the possibility that the letter would cause such consternation and so many calls for him to leave the college. Within days, however, Cadbury’s position at the college had become completely untenable. On October 21, he wrote a letter to the college’s board in which he offered to resign from the faculty. In the letter he praised the board for their deep devotion to the religious traditions on which Haverford was founded and expressed his profound regret for having caused the college so much public embarrassment.

The next day, the board began discussing what they referred to as the “grave situation resulting from the reception of Professor’s Cadbury’s letter.” President Comfort told the members of the board that Cadbury possessed “certain personal characteristics and combative tendencies which lessened his usefulness as a member of the faculty.” He also told them that Cadbury was a hard worker, a fine scholar, and a man of integrity.

The board members’ response to the situation was anything but straightforward. Several voiced a commitment to academic freedom and said that they did not want it to look as if Haverford was subject to the sway of “excited public opinion.” But members of the board strongly disapproved of the letter Cadbury had written, and they suspected that accepting his resignation might well be in the best interest of the college. They believed that “the habit of temperate judgment and consideration for the feelings of others with whom one has associated one’s self should always characterize the utterances of a scholar.”

So in the autumn of 1918, the members of the board could not agree on whether or not Cadbury’s letter of resignation should be accepted. The board stopped short of firing Cadbury but suspended him from teaching with pay, and appointed a committee of respected board members to investigate the matter more thoroughly.

In March 1919, Cadbury wrote a second letter of resignation in which he said that he was resigning because he wanted to teach at another school. Haverford’s board accepted the second letter of resignation and also adopted a minute which expressed its admiration for the way that Cadbury had responded to the controversy his letter had sparked.

 

Shortly after resigning from Haverford’s faculty, Cadbury informed the leaders of AFSC that he was moving away from Philadelphia and was thus obliged to resign his position as a member of the board of AFSC. In June of 1919, AFSC accepted his letter of resignation with “deep regret.” The end of the war was still months away, but the efforts of AFSC to ameliorate civilian suffering in Europe had already begun. The possibility of Quakers performing wartime service without being inducted into the military had been widely recognized, a victory for all conscientious objectors in the United States.

After his departure from Haverford College, Cadbury landed on his feet. He taught at Andover Theological Seminary from 1919 until 1925 and at Bryn Mawr College from 1926 until 1934. In 1935 Cadbury joined the faculty of Harvard Divinity School and taught there until 1954. At Harvard, Cadbury continued to do important work on the New Testament and also launched a series of thorough investigations into Quaker history.

Over the years, Haverford College has taken a number of steps to show that it holds Cadbury in high esteem. When Cadbury was still in midcareer, the college awarded him an honorary doctorate. After his retirement, Haverford asked Cadbury to return to its campus to teach courses on Quakerism. (Cadbury accepted that invitation.) Haverford also arranged to have a portrait of Cadbury prominently displayed in the college’s archives. But, as far as we know, Haverford has never issued a formal apology for—or even a detailed analysis of—the way Cadbury was treated during World War I.

Given how little we know about the inner workings of the board, it is tempting to let its actions recede quietly into the background and to focus more attention on what Cadbury said and did. But yielding to that temptation would get in the way of our understanding the nature of Quakerism in the early decades of the last century. Quakerism was then, as it is now, a complicated admixture of prophetic impulses and pragmatic proclivities. Little is gained and much is lost when we pretend otherwise.

 

Correction: When Cadbury left Haverford College, he began teaching at the Andover Theological Seminary, not Phillips Academy as stated in the original article.

The post Henry Cadbury, AFSC, and Haverford College appeared first on Friends Journal.

An interview with Joyce Ajlouny

Sat, 2017-04-01 02:10

Courtesy of Joyce Ajlouny.

Much of your life and the life of your extended family has been tied to Ramallah Friends School in Palestine. Tell us some of the roles you’ve had there.

The Ramallah Friends School has not only been part of my own personal life, but also that of my extended family. My grandmother, who is of Greek Orthodox faith, was convinced of Quakerism in the 1920s—when the Quaker missionaries were in Ramallah to help establish the school. My grandmother is a graduate of the school, along with my mother (my father attended but then left for the United States), my husband, my children, and my siblings.

I graduated from Ramallah Friends School in 1983. When I returned from my college university education in the United States, I briefly worked there as a teacher of computer science, until the start of the First Intifada, when the Israelis closed down all of schools, including the Ramallah Friends School. Later, in 2003, I became involved with the parent-teacher association, but was soon offered the position to become the school director. My family decided to relocate to the United States for personal reasons five years ago, and since then I’ve been managing Ramallah Friends School from abroad.

What led you to apply for the general secretary position at AFSC?

Five years is a little bit too much of this commuting and managing from a distance. I thought I need to consider other options; when the general secretary position for American Friends Service Committee was made known to me, I was wowed with the possibility.

I took some time to discern whether I wanted to apply, knowing very well that it would be all-encompassing work. Before working with the Ramallah Friends School, I worked for various international development organizations. I worked for the United Nations and Oxfam Great Britain (I was the country director for Israel and Palestine), and was privileged to have contributed to the programming that empowered and transformed the lives of communities. My interest to and commitment for social justice programs is amplified with having lived through a horrific and continuing injustice in Palestine, and also after seeing the present social and political turmoil taking place in the United States.

There are some surprising similarities between a Quaker school and AFSC. Both are very visible, public institutions largely staffed by and largely serving non-Quakers.

Both AFSC and Ramallah Friends School are grounded in a foundation of Quaker values and testimonies and have impressive histories. Without that foundation, the school may not have continued to exist for 148 years of war and regional turmoil. To be spiritually led is imperative when the aim is to transform lives. AFSC carries a similar history of transformation and has likewise succeeded through the power of love. I have already received several messages from well-wishers telling me that their years at AFSC were “the best years of their lives.”

The people who work for AFSC are some of the most passionate and self-inspired people I’ve ever met. If we follow the messages of Margaret Benefiel in her book Soul at Work, we know that passion is the one ingredient that will improve morale, increase productivity, and create harmony among all parts of the organization. AFSC struck me as a place that has made many strides in this regard, and I look forward to encouraging people to bring their souls into the workplace.

As someone who has lived through horrific injustice and violence myself, I am able to draw the parallels and appreciate the complexity and intersectionality of the social justice issues that are very important in AFSC’s work in the United States and internationally.

What are some of the values that we have to share with the world?

Our values are universal, and we should not claim ownership to them. We have a responsibility to put our values to work; Friends do this exceptionally well. The continuous seeking of that of God in our surroundings prepares our minds to consider other truths. It commits us to Spirit-led service and action and solid convictions on issues and principles. I think that’s a great combination.

Our school in Palestine is known as a Quaker school. We articulate our values regularly. We talk about tolerance, service, equality, and simplicity, but I don’t think this is what matters the most. It is how we translate these words in our decision making and in our relationships. For example, Ramallah Friends School is the only inclusive education school in Palestine offering children with special needs an opportunity that is otherwise absent there. While this comes with a financial cost, we test our value of equality as we ensure that our program leaves no one behind.

The Arab world, for the most part, can be very hierarchical and authoritarian, where the leader is expected to independently make all decisions. We offer another model by saying, “No, it’s really by consultation and consensus that we reach conclusions.” We show Quaker values at work by modeling the way.

This is also very apparent in the work of AFSC. Last year AFSC commissioned an independent report to assess structural racism within AFSC. I thought that this presents a compelling case of AFSC practicing what it preaches. AFSC is not shying away from courageously addressing these matters; they are stating that they are not immune. This gives me a sense that this an organization that is genuine about putting Quaker values into practice.

AFSC has been reinventing itself since its founding 100 years ago. What are some of the particular challenges of Quaker witness today?

To me, challenges are opportunities, always. Change and reinvention is inevitable for any organization. In both the United States and the world we’re seeing dramatic global shifts, whether it’s Brexit or a Trump victory or the emergence of ISIS—all disheartening, social, economic trends that are reminders of the emergence of a grave reality that requires our immediate attention. That to me is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity: How can we build on our exciting work and partnership, urgently and creatively, in a manner that can make a difference?

I think we’ve learned from this last U.S. election that we need to listen more. This can often be a challenge for people who are very passionate about the positions they take. Sometimes the passion is so overwhelming that it sort of overrides that willingness to listen to other narratives. This is something that we really need to work much harder on. Truth is always incomplete. We always have to look for other truths. We need to break through some of these boundaries that we’ve put around ourselves and seek a wider spectrum of perspectives.

We know that racial and political and economic divides are on the rise, but we also need to keep the hope alive. We read a lot about things that make us angry, but there are also stories that make us proud. Humanity is still alive and well. We need to make sure that people hear not only about the atrocities and the detrimental executive orders, but also about the communities which are coming together to make a difference and effect change that we all seek.

How would you like to see Friends more involved with AFSC? How can we support its work?

I haven’t started in the position of course, but it’s been clear to me that AFSC puts significant effort into presenting opportunities for engagement, whether connecting with a campaign or hosting an event. The website has a “Get Involved” page that is immensely resourceful with many ideas, including a Quaker social change ministry and a “Let Your Life Speak” booklet. I’ve been impressed that AFSC has a director of Friends relations, Lucy Duncan, who is doing a terrific job forging these connections.

I know that there are divides and that not all Quakers and Friends will have the same views on social justice issues. Some Friends may not agree with a direction that an AFSC program is taking. Tensions will arise. This is not unique to Friends. As the director of Ramallah Friends School, I have enjoyed building partnerships with Quaker communities across the United States and increasing their social consciousness and commitment to social justice and awareness of the need for humanitarian support and political solidarity with Palestinians. I think my work may have helped to ameliorate some of the racism against Arabs found within some individuals in the United States.

I am hoping I can take that experience to Quaker communities and manage similar successes on issues of priority for AFSC. We can engage Friends in meaningful dialogue on social justice issues like Black Lives Matter or immigration reform or LGBTQ rights. These are conversations that I tremendously enjoy taking part in. I look forward to helping build bridges by delving into these conversations on behalf of AFSC.

 

The post An interview with Joyce Ajlouny appeared first on Friends Journal.

Death of a Patient

Sat, 2017-04-01 02:07

I heard the news on a snowy day.
A heavy, wet snow that fell with
A smothering weight.

Tomorrow I will shovel the walk
And then pause to admire the beauty
Of the snow on the White Pine and the Elderberry.
A beauty you could not experience
And a weight you will never feel again.

Later there will be case reviews
And clinical judgements.
I will listen quietly
And remember the snow
As I offer a wordless prayer for you.

The post Death of a Patient appeared first on Friends Journal.

Making my Bed

Sat, 2017-04-01 02:05
I unfolded the map of the pillowcase and fitted the four corners of the dream world in, leaving the next resident to trace their night journey with its cool, white folds. I unfurled the bottom sheet that knew the way soothing the mattress with a cotton caress. The partner top floated and had its say then waited patiently for the coverlet🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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The post Making my Bed appeared first on Friends Journal.