This morning I read an NYT article about the need for community action to make real change in the environment, and the challenges at this time when the strategies that would help are blocked by the current negative climate in DC.  I read that individual action is valiant, but what will make a change is the community working together.

 

Early Friends knew this. Our testimonies get attention because of the shared sacrifice and shared support of that sacrifice.   

 

Yet today I find that so often our conversations seem about dismissal,  rather than continuing to enfold.  I find that, too, with our actions.

 

This article, when posted on FB, was met by some who seemed to dismiss what was being said due to a challenging term.  There seemed to me to be little interest in digging deeper to understand the concept behind the words... no looking 'where the words come from'.  I appreciated the two people  who thoughtfully reflected on the ideas presented.  

 

The impulse to simply shut down is one that we are facing in society to a dangerous degree.  Conversation has ended unless we know we agree with someone.  I admit to having my panic with certain subjects. But I am trying to 'quit' that tendency.  I've seen the harm it has done.  

 

We often seem to use the example of George Fox at his worst when -  as his journal shows - he  'flips out' at someone he is at odds with.  I would hope that the approach of others - most notably John Woolman - would be our inclination: to engage  with the people who distress us.  May we  learn from his conviction in that regard. 

Views: 72

Comment by Stephanie Stuckwisch on 9th mo. 11, 2011 at 6:14pm
Last spring I was at a retreat attended by both evangelical and liberal Friends. One of our leaders invited us to bring all our vulnerabilities, speak honestly and to "listen in tongues".
Comment by Forrest Curo on 9th mo. 11, 2011 at 10:27pm

You know, I've been through Fox's Journal at least once, reread sizeable chunks, but have not found a single place where he "'flips out' at someone he is at odds with." Times he was less diplomatic than he might have been, yes. Times when being forthright got him into the deep doodoo pile, yes. "Flipped out at," no.

 

Why would you say that is?

Comment by Joan Gunn Broadfield on 9th mo. 11, 2011 at 11:12pm

@Forrest  I can think of the way he characterizes some of these incidents.  He gets pretty apoplectic at Lampett in two places, I believe - but it's probably true to say that 'flipped out' was perhaps a flippant way to say it.  

@Stephanie, I LOVE the 'listening in tongues' reference. Yes!!

 

 

Comment by Forrest Curo on 9th mo. 12, 2011 at 12:35pm

I like being "flippant" too! But I'm inclined to catagorize these incidents as ~ lack or disregard of conventional social protocol. Fox did not respond well to insincere politeness!

 

Whether to see this as 'character flaw',  'pathology' (thinking of a pretty good Friend who described Fox as "bonkers!")-- I'd say, 'consistency with certain principles he treasured.'

 

Is it quite reasonable to idolize such principles to that extent? Hmmm, may (& did) lead to social discord.

 

But he was evidently quite "engaged". Can this sort of 'engagement' be functional? Obviously; made the SoF what it was in his time. Out of fashion these days... and rightly so. I remember reading a debate between Roger Williams & a Quaker, how they called each other "liars" rather than admitting any possibility that a person could be morally good, right with God-- and mistaken!

 

See, I'm inclined to say, "You have the right to become angry. If you become angry, anything you say... will be just as damnfool as if you'd said it calmly, probably more so." But I don't think its good practice to devalue people or their truth for whatever emotional charge they're adding. I see that norm as a major part of the problem you're talking about!-- People are too uneasy with anything that stirs them up, so they squirt out a cloud of ink and disappear! Easy to do, on the net!

 

I'm continually liking some of Stephen Gaskin's ideas-- This time: that when two people/[groups?] are having bad emotional weather in their interactions, it's a good heuristic to look for 'energy' flow. ~Who is losing energy from this; who's gaining it?

 

I thought of a few examples... and then decided: It isn't 'energy' so much as 'points'. Some people feel more 'righteous' if they've found an occasion to be pissed off; other people feel more righteous when they're clinging to an 'above it all' position. Pair people off according to that polarity-- and everybody feels good because everybody is RIGHJT! But the dispute doesn't get resolved because they both eventually declare victory and go home! When is this an okay outcome?-- and when do we need to go-- certainly not merely "longer"-- but deeper?

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