“Quakers will only be truly prophetic when they risk a great deal of their accumulated privilege and access to wealth. Prophets cannot have a stake in maintaining the status quo. Any attempt to change a system while benefiting and protecting the benefits received from the system reinforces the system. Quakers as much as anyone not only refuse to reject their white privilege, they fail to reject the benefits they receive from institutionalized racism, trying to make an unjust economy and institutionalized racism and patriarch more fair and equitable in its ability to exploit. One can not simultaneously attack racist and patriarchal institutions and benefit from them at the same time without becoming more reliant upon the benefits and further entrenching the system. Liberalism at its laziest.” Scott Miller
That is another way of expressing what I’ve been trying to say lately. For example in A Radical Turning, that our capitalist economy and the political and policing/military systems that enforce it are inherently unjust. Placing little value on resources, including human labor, and siphoning vast wealth to those already rich, leaving millions impoverished. Consuming resources at rates many times greater than they can be replenished. Polluting our land, air and water. Built on white supremacy, militarism, and systemic racism. The triple threats that Martin Luther King, Jr, warned against; racism, militarism and materialism.
As Albert Einstein stated, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Think about how profoundly true that is. That is why incremental changes have not worked. We MUST “think outside the box.”
An example is the failure of Quakers to address environmental chaos because most continue to drive cars, fly in airplanes, have homes with air conditioning, and include red meat in their diet. My decision forty years ago to give up having a personal automobile was my attempt to be more true to my environmental concerns. To obey what the Inner Light clearly said to me. Time and time again when I got into discussions about our environment, the first thing someone would say would be along the lines of “well you drive a car, don’t you?” If you can’t say “no I don’t”, you have lost any authority to try to get others to care about our environment. As Scott Miller puts it in the quote above, “Any attempt to change a system while benefiting and protecting the benefits received from the system reinforces the system. ”
My vision of creating diverse, self-sufficient communities with simple living structures, communal kitchens, growing food in surrounding fields is a way to escape the capitalist system. And if everyone is truly welcome to live and work in these communities, which will require much physical labor and energy to create and maintain, that has the potential to avoid systemic racism. A commitment to nonviolence could create more just and peaceful communities without police abuse.
In years past it was easy for people to dismiss these ideas, and believe they would never come about. They would point to the eventual failure of the vast majority of intentional communities. The difference at this point in time is that climate chaos is beginning to overwhelm our economic and political systems. And will increasingly do so in more ways. Many thresholds are being crossed, which trigger destructive feedback mechanisms, that even more severely stress and break these systems.
We will soon be forced to find alternatives to our existing social and political systems. Now is the time to figure out the best alternatives, before environmental and social chaos catches us unprepared. We can also be addressing systemic racism, militarism and materialism in the process. This article discusses ideas for designing and building such communities. https://jeffkisling.com/2018/02/22/design-and-build-beloved-community-models/
As Scott Miller says above, “Quakers will only be truly prophetic when they risk a great deal of their accumulated privilege and access to wealth. Prophets cannot have a stake in maintaining the status quo.”
I would contend the reason our Quaker meetings are getting smaller is because most of us are too entrenched in the current, unjust economic and political systems. But I also believe we could speak to these times if we build alternative, Beloved communities.