I can't claim to "study war no more" like in the song, as "war" (the concept) permeates our collective thinking too deeply to ever be excised. 

Those of us who think outward weapons are for losers, may still have a Lamb's War to fight, with inward weapons only.  Our enemies are psychological complexes, meme viruses, damaging ideologies.  "You can't kill the devil with a gun or a sword" goes the popular tune about our founder George Fox.  Outward weapons are semi-useless where pure psychology is concerned.

I'm concerned that young people in our culture have so few opportunities to develop the skills and self-reliance currently associated almost exclusively with military training:  how to read a map, navigate a terrain, adapt to a potentially dangerous environment. 

I see two venues for such skills training:  scouting and Junior ROTC.  Oh, and lets not forget Young Marines, a program wherein a premium is placed on obeying orders issued by those of higher rank and not questioning authority. "Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die."  These are not Quaker virtues or principles.

When it comes to developing "leadership skills" the schools have a tendency to outsource, or to use team sports for that purpose.  Guys train to be aggressive team players while the gals learn cheer-leading and how to play in supporting cast roles.  The cultural standard is male heroes with female fans.

My thought is to counter this monopoly on leadership training with a somewhat homeopathic approach.  To develop antibodies to militarism we need to learn from it. 

Perhaps the best antidote to militarism is less outright anti-militarism (direct opposition) and more para-militarism, thereby allowing a more indirect reshaping of currently militarized institutions.  Like when people advise "working within the system" to become effective change agents; how do we do that?

My culture is already heavily militarized.  So how to work with the grain?  When in Rome...

The "boot camp" meme has spread to Geekdom in the form of "coding schools".  People sign up for twelve weeks of intensive training in HTML / CSS + JavaScript + a server language + a database, in order to embark on  STEM careers. 

IT skills are somewhat akin to basic survival skills in a more literal sense.  Reading and writing, on an industrial scale, is done using SQL these days.  Not knowing any SQL is akin to being functionally illiterate in an industrial setting.  Should Quakers, known for their ability to found and run schools, wade in to the "boot camp" business?  I know this Quaker has.  I've joined the team of a boot-camp offering code school.

I was recently contacted by a gentleman of Vietnamese heritage interested in setting up more code schools and boot camps in Vietnam.  What's the latest and greatest thinking, when it comes to curriculum?   That question gets me thinking, leading to this blog post.

The current picture of a "boot camp" is one of staying indoors, keeping laptops from getting rained on.  Even if the word "camp" gets used, there's no sense of literally camping.  But there's a lot more to technology than software, there's hardware, and the Internet of Things -- things such as tractors, greenhouses, power-generating windmills and river turbines.

Looking ahead, I'm thinking of a more integrated vista.  We could converge the more physical outdoor activities of scouting and farming with the indoor activities of coding, and cooking (for groups of people). 

One goal is to build a cast of self-reliant types not afraid to start entirely new high tech eco-villages, perhaps by revivifying ghost towns or abandoned bases.  We'll create a next generation of pioneers.  Agricultural skills will be important.  We could learn some lessons from Cuba, and how it adapted during its Special Period.  As a member of the Python-Cuba Working Group, an initiative of the Python Software Foundation, I'm looking forward to learning from there, as well as from Vietnam.

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Comment by Keith Saylor on 3rd mo. 7, 2016 at 5:04pm

Kirby. Ideas and emotions are as much outward weapons as are swords and bombs. It is outward ideological and theological forms that nurture and engender outward physical weapons of war. The primitive Quaker is the direct and unmediated inshining Light itself in the conscious and conscience takes Way and resolves all occasion for conflict. That is, once identity, purpose, and meaning are no longer established in outward ideological and institutional forms ... inshining Peace happens upon us all. There is way other way. All other ways are merely the transference of one outward form for another; which only occasions and nurtures further and future conflict.

Comment by Kirby Urner on 3rd mo. 7, 2016 at 6:57pm

Hi Keith.  I don't see things the way you do regarding bone-breaking sticks and stones, used as weapons, being in the same category as hurled insults, as a tool of diplomacy perhaps.

I make a sharp distinction.  I consider Quaker plain speech to include being direct, sometimes to the point of offensive.  Fox was a firebrand, not a church mouse.  Quakers tended to speak their minds more than some, owing to their beliefs about equality.  We don't just leave it to "the authorities" to say what's what.

We have ample evidence that humans are capable of civilization minus a lot of outward violence.  The Indus Valley civilization comes to mind.  https://youtu.be/n7ndRwqJYDM (around 5:40 he gets into their peacefulness). 

Also, I just received Steven Pinker's new The Better Angels of Our Nature in which he argues the overall trend is toward decreasing violence.

I have a hard time imagining our billions of humans having a shot at a decent life minus any institution building or maintenance.  In fact even tiny numbers of humans will spontaneously engage in division of labor and trade.  Institution-building is part of our wiring. 

You seem to want to take the knife to the brain itself and dig out everything in there as "outward forms".  What's left, beyond catatonia?  Language itself is an institution.  QuakerQuaker rests on a a billion years of nature's own version of institution-building:  outward life.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 3rd mo. 7, 2016 at 9:06pm

Kirby, You misrepresent me when you suggest my writing about outward forms is equatable to "hurling insults." Hurled insults are certainly one manifestation of a deeper symptom that is identity, meaning, and purpose being anchored in and informed by outward ideas or notions. People use ideas to influence and inform other people into acceptance of their outward ideological frameworks and the institutional instrumentalities that support those frameworks. These outward constructs and instrumentalities are used to impose on the consciences of other people so as to bring them into conformity with collective representations. This process is creates disunity. There are far more examples of the truth of this than you other suggest. The conscious anchored in and the conscience informed by outward forms nurtures war and violence. There is no lacking on this earth of people who are firebrands. Quakers are not unique in this and they never were. What was and is unique about the Children of inshining Light (many of them are among Quakers) is that their very being, their way of existence, their very consciousness is not anchored in or informed by outward forms and instrumentalities. The experience of the inshining Light itself anchoring our conscious and informing our conscience is our story. You write and ask" "You seem to want to take the knife to the brain itself and dig out everything in there as "outward forms". What's left, beyond catatonia?" Another misrepresentation. The brain is the mirror through which ideation manifests. A conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the functioning or representations of the brain certainly can experience "catatonia" if one takes a knife to the brain. That is, kill the brain and the conscious anchored in and the conscience informed by the process of brain representation - outward ideological forms, for example, and consciousness is lost. You went on the ask "What's Left." I am here to tell you that the inshining Light is what is left and is that which sustains the conscious and informs the conscience both during life on this earth and the death of the body, including brain functioning. It is of the very nature of many primitive and modern Quaker's experience that the inshining Light itself takes the place of outward bodily (brain) representations and anchors the conscious and informs the conscience in and through the inshining Light itself in itself. We do not speak out because of "beliefs about equality" we speak out because of we witness the inshining Light illuminating our conscious and informing our conscience so that our identity, meaning, and purpose in life on this earth and on into eternity is animated by the movement of the Light itself manifesting in our conscience. The movement is not a movement toward ideas our outward forms. The increase and decrease of the inshining Light itself in our conscious and conscience is our guide. Our conscious and our conscience is born into a new way of existence on this earth that is not of the old nature of "Institution-building." We are of the new nature and no longer participate in the hard-wiring of the old nature. We a people being re-wired in the direct and unmediated experience of the inshining Light itself. No more outward wires. We are of the electricity itself!! Amen and Amen! PS. The best example you could come up with for the efficacy of a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by outward forms and the instrumentalities of those forms is a civilization the science itself admits they no very little about? Just recently National Geographic published this short caveat about its peaceful nature: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130425-indus-civili... It is mine to affirm the inshining Light itself as sufficient in itself to guide and inform. Keith https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/110147761668071525599

Comment by Kirby Urner on 3rd mo. 7, 2016 at 10:46pm

Sorry Keith, I did not mean to imply you were "hurling insults".  What I meant was:  I draw a line between hurling stones with the intent to inflict physical injury, and hurling insults, which are more psychological in nature.  Regardless of who does it -- I wasn't meaning to pick on you.  

Like that old childrens saying "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me."  That's the same distinction I'm making.  

I call using sticks and stones (guns and swords) "outward weapons" whereas satire, mocking, poking fun... such are the tools we Friends are left with when we forsake outward weapons.  We also use a lot of positive reinforcement.  

Then you'll have Friends who say:  no no, even verbal push back or put downs or whatever are violence at some level.  If you're non-violent, you can't engage in verbal sparring of any kind.  But my family doesn't believe that.  My daughter was a national debating champion and I see informed debate as critical to civilization and as an *alternative* to violence.  Within the sphere of debate, rhetorical tools are permitted, including poking fun and so on.  That's my belief, as a Quaker.

I blog more about that belief here:

Let me ask you a question:  is it OK with you if some of us use our skills and sense of God to build institutions?  We actually enjoy doing that, it's our hobby.  Schools... hospitals... refugee camps... we want to create these and help administer them as well.  

Many of the Quaker families I worshipped with in Rome, Italy, growing up, worked for the United Nations, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in particular.  I'm used to being around Quakers who are institution builders.  That's normal for me, par for the course.

I'm happy to have Friends around who are *not* into institution building and prefer to live in the Light in some more satisfying-to-them way that is sufficient to guide and inform them.  

But if there's no institution out the other side, i.e. if their being so led does not give rise to schools or hospitals, then I'm not obligated to sit at their feet and say "teach me your ways such that I might be spared the need to create anything."  I want to create.  

So whereas I'm fine with Friends who do not share my interests, I'm not going to take a big time out of my day to learn how to give up my favorite hobbies, either.  I'm not looking for "a cure" as I don't see my interest in institution-building as any kind of ailment.  It's just not a problem for me.  

That's not a problem for you either, right?  You're content to let me be the way I am, in the company of many good Friends.  Live and let live, right?

Comment by Keith Saylor on 3rd mo. 8, 2016 at 6:56pm

Hello Again Kirby,

Recently, I was in Salem, Oregon. I live in Bandon, Oregon. At lunch, an acquaintance said he had heard I was Quaker and wondered whether that was true. I was surprised even as these words that came out of my mouth: "No, I am not a Quaker, I am a Child of Light." His look was one of questioning. So I went on to say; "Quakerism, in all its forms, is an ideological, theological, institutional construct." I am not of the outward beliefs and institutional frameworks, practices, and processes of Quakerism. I know the inshining Light upon my conscious and in my conscience which is my guide and leader in all things." I then stopped and said. Hang on, I need to write down what I just said. We then talked about how many people who do call themselves Quaker share the direct and unmediated experience of the inshining Light itself as the anchor of their conscious and the informer of their conscience and that I am in fellowship with them.

It is significant to me is that the phrase "Child of Light" carries none of the outward dogma, institutional, and belief baggage that "Quaker" or "Society of Friends" does. The phrase has meaning in the context of unmediated experience of the inshining Light itself. Those whose conscious was anchored in and whose conscience was informed by outward forms and the instrumentalities of those forms refrained from calling those gathered in the inshining Light, Children of Light (the name they actually referred to themselves by) and called them by the abstract derisive name "Quaker" because "Children of Light" carried no outward representational meaning for them. It only carried meaning for those who shared or share being or consciousness in the Light itself in itself.

It is significant to me that the phrase "Children of Light" was replace by "Quaker" and/or "Society of Friends." This gradual movement away from Children of Light and the embracement of Quaker and Society of Friends is indicative of the state of the inshining Light in the conscious and conscience of the early gathering. The abstract terms Quaker and Society of Friends reflects the gathering's movement away from the inshining Light itself and toward a being that was more and more institutionalised by the workings of the outward institution builders in the Gathering. The institution builders, and the institutions they built, turned the Gathering's focus from the inshining Light itself in itself as guide and teacher and to the assistance and governance of institutions and instrumentalities so that people's conscious and conscience were turned again toward outward institutional frameworks. This was very way of existence that their experience of the inshining of the Light itself, breaking upon their conscious and conscience, had led them out of. The inshining Light itself instituted their identity, meaning, and purpose. Slowly, the outward institution builders in the gathering reconstituted them back again into the way of a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by outward forms. A way they had been led out of by the power of inshining Light in their conscious and conscience.

I acknowledge the reality of outward institution builders (like yourself) and the institutions they build and nurture over against human being. For me, it is not a question of whether it is okay with me. It is a reality. I generally do not participate in the outward Quaker forms and the instrumentalities of those forms and do not support Quaker institutions and institutional builders. With that said, I do fellowship in the inshining Light with those who call themselves Quaker and there are Meetings throughout this country I have gathered with. I love everyone by the inshining Light in my conscience, even the institution builders, though I often do not support them. The reality of outward forms and instrumentalities does not occasion a spirit of animosity against institution builders. Although, occasion does occur wherein I turn away from the outward fashionings of the institution builders and at times speak out against them and their fashionings highlight the inshining Light itself.

I am a Child of the inshining Light itself in itself which is my sufficient guide and teacher without regard or respect for the assistance of outward Quaker forms and the fashioners of those forms. I would not say I am "content" with the fashioners of outward forms. I just acknowledge their reality and move amongst them in a different way of existence and lay down my conscience before them for eternity's sake.

Friend Keith


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