Spirit Led Peace and Social Concerns

Again this summer Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) met at Scattergood Friends School and Farm for our annual sessions. I am clerk of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee which is a challenge. This summer our meetings went more smoothly, in part because most members have been on the committee for several years and gotten used to working together. This year no letters to our Congressional representatives were brought for us to work on. This was in part because some of us felt working on those letters took too much of our time together, and online tools to submit such letters resulted in Congressional offices being flooded with letters.

Although we always try to be attuned to the Spirit during our meetings, this year there was a strong sense of the presence of God leading us. The additional time we had, since we didn’t have letters to work on, gave us more time to reflect on issues of peace and justice. It also helps that our meeting room is quiet and isolated.

One member had hand written the two paragraphs below from the 2006 Minutes. Those words resonated with us and led us to think of other statements in the same form, which we referred to as visionary statements.

What follows is part of the approved Peace and Social Concerns Report.


In dark times it is easy to feel discouraged and helpless. Sometimes it helps to step back to get a different perspective. The following statement was printed in the 2006 Minutes of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative).

There once was a frame of reference in this country that said, “Slavery is a reality. The best we can do is hope to regulate it and work for the just treatment of slaves.” John Woolman stepped out of that frame of reference and said, “Slavery is wrong.” His vision was to end slavery.

Today there is a frame of reference in this country that says, “Illegal immigration is a reality. The best we can do is regulate immigration. We step out of that frame of reference to say, “All are worthy of a decent life. Our vision is the recognition of migration as a human right.” (We thank the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) for their years of work on behalf of migrant people.)

Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) 2006

This statement provoked us to consider how we might express such visionary statements today. Some examples of how that might look follow.

There once was a frame of reference in this country that said:

• “Systemic racism is a reality. The best we can do is make people aware of this racism.” We want to step out of that frame of reference and say, “Racism is wrong.” We believe this vision will help create the Beloved Community Martin Luther King, Jr, spoke of. All of these visions contribute to that possibility.
• “Theft of Native land is a reality. The best we can do is help Native people, especially children, assimilate into white culture.” We want to step out of that frame of reference and say, “The theft of Native land and culture is wrong.” We believe this vision will lead to reconciliation, healing and lifting up Native culture.
• “War is a reality. The best we can do is limit conflict.” We want to step out of that frame of reference and say, “War is never the answer.” We believe this vision will lead to world peace.
• “Those who do wrong must be incarcerated.” We want to step out of that frame of reference and say, “Abolish prisons.” We believe this vision can rehabilitate prisoners so they can re-enter their communities.
• “Some people must die for their crimes.” We want to step out of that frame of reference and say, “No one should be put to death.” We believe this vision will end this inhumane practice.
• “Fossil fuel use is necessary for our economy and transportation”. We want to step out of that frame and say, “Use of fossil fuels must end now.” We believe this vision can temper the environmental catastrophe we are moving more deeply into.
• “Borders are a reality.” We want to step out of that frame of reference and say, “Borders are wrong.” We believe this vision will lead open borders which is becoming increasingly important as millions more become climate refugees.
• “Health, including mental health is available to those who can pay.” We want to step out of that frame of reference and say, “Health, including mental health, is a human right.” We believe this vision will heal us.
• “Violence against and sexual trafficking of women and children are a reality. The best we can do is incarcerate the perpetrators”. We want to step out of that frame of reference and say, “Women and children have a right to be free and safe, always and everywhere.” We believe this vision will help us all feel safe and protected.

We are joyful knowing the Spirit’s guidance will show us how to attain these visions.

“But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. from “Facing the Challenge of a New Age,” 1956

This entry was posted in peace, Quaker, Quaker Meetings, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Spirit Led Peace and Social Concerns

  1. Kathy Hall says:

    Jeff, beautiful words and beautiful photos. Each enriches the other. Kathy

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