In following what I have been taught about not bothering those in a meeting who are busy with other things than activism, I am realizing that often results in other Friends and others not knowing what it is we would like to have help with and/or share in the work we are doing.
This is what I would like to see for and from Friends and allies today.
It seems there are leaders and followers. People of faith are both. Following our spiritual guidance, however we practice that, shapes both our beliefs and our actions. People of faith are leaders because others see our lives as an expression of our faith, and can follow our example if they choose. Whether we promote ourselves as examples or not, others see us that way.
There is a tension between spiritual practice and how that is expressed in the world. Our spiritual insights highlight social injustices, because a fundamental tenant of any faith is the value and equality of every person. A person of faith is able to translate his/her faith into work for social justice, making whole one’s attention to and expression of one’s faith.
Different people approach this different ways. There are those who feel their faith is expressed in the actions of their daily lives, and are not drawn to participate in social justice activism. Then there are those who feel the way God’s work is done in the world is by identifying issues of injustice and actively working to address them.
My view is the latter. God does continue to guide us, and we are the instruments of his will. We need to expose injustices and connect with allies to correct them.
But there are so many issues. How do you decide what to work on? I feel strongly about two things related to this.
The first is that you absolutely have to be, or become if not already, in tune with your spiritual core. That needs to be floating in the periphery of your consciousness continually. When you observe something or are asked to do something, you check with your core, and that will, hopefully, inform you of what to do. That makes it easier to decide when others ask you to help them. Your decision isn’t clouded by external pressures, and that takes a lot of anxiety out of your life, but more importantly keeps you focused on what you are called to do. Over time, each little step along this path builds a body of spiritual work you can draw upon during those times of confusion we all face. The dynamics of life mean we are continually confronted with new situations and choices. But the key for the person of faith is that those new situations are actually variations of old situations (there is nothing new under the sun). But more importantly, this is how our faith grows, as we learn from the faith of others, and they from ours.
Secondly, I fall into the group that believes one’s faith must be expressed in action. It is not enough to be paying close attention to your spiritual life, if that doesn’t move you to act on what is being revealed to you. People of faith are nonviolent revolutionaries. We hold our public institutions and officials accountable to do the political work to keep our society working well. We cannot not engage in addressing injustice, because injustice only survives by implied consent, and silencing dissent.
What specifically would I like to see locally? North Meadow Friends are doing a good job with the meeting for worship.
One thing I would like would be an exploration of how we as a meeting see human relations. The situation in Ferguson highlighted a number of issues. That community was so oppressed by those who were supposed to be serving it. Unfortunately, that is not an isolated situation. We still have significant problems with race relations, economic injustice, and law enforcement. I think it is important for white people to be aware of the economic and political advantages we have and work to address those inequalities in our own lives.
I think we also need to work at learning more about people of color. We still do not live in a truly integrated society. The only way to fix this is to get to know people of color. We are very fortunate to have the Kheprw Institute (KI) community that is willing to work with us. I would like to see a close relationship built between North Meadow and KI. Shared community discussions and work would be great.
I’d like to see North Meadow meeting become the KI of our neighborhood, with open community discussions and work projects.
Finally, I’d like to see others at North Meadow get involved in the Indiana Moral Mondays movement. This is the civil rights movement of our time, and it needs the help of Friends. And it is a great partner for Friends to work to express their faith.