“…we say many things about the changing aspects of our lives. We say that since change is inevitable, we should direct the change rather than simply continue to go through the change.”–Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson, Delta Man
This morning I had been struggling to discern what I should write about. Experience has shown if I try to force myself to write, the result usually isn’t good. Sometimes I have to re-learn.
I was about to accept this would be one of those days. I was disappointed because I’ve been interested in the concept of Spiritual bypass I discovered recently.
Now I’m feeling this would be a day to ask questions instead of proposing answers. Those familiar with Quakers may know of our practice to consider queries, or questions. Many Friends find the practice of using the queries as a way to focus on how we are doing, individually and as a meeting, regarding our own faith, and how we practice it, right now in our lives. Something we treasure. This is an example of how Quakers are actively engaged in our spiritual life,
I’ll try to construct some queries related to Spiritual bypass. You might then pray about your answers to some of the queries. In a recent post I wrote of some areas it seemed many of us were bypassing. For each query, you might consider what you have done in your life related to the query. And what is unresolved in your life? What would you like to do now? Will you do it?
- What do you believe about war and peace? What does war mean in times of global wars on terrorism? Civilian deaths from remote controlled drones? What do you believe about nonviolence and peaceful protest on the streets today? Are you/should you be on the streets?
As a teenager trying to figure out what I would do about registering for the draft (Selective Service System), I saw few Friends resisting. This was in contrast to the previous generation, where many Quaker men and their families choose to go to prison for draft resistance. Their example helped me decide to be a draft resister, too.
- What is your vision of environmentally sustainable communities? Will you take a closer look at your carbon footprint? Can you find people and organizations you can join to build parts of such communities?
At 20 years of age I felt I could no longer own a car because of the terrible damage being done to the air, water and soil. I didn’t find many other Friends who stopped owning cars even as the evidence of the environmental harm became increasingly clear.
- Can you find communities of people, not of your race, to work with? Can you accept your role will be to listen, and allow the community to lead the work?
Most Quakers today still struggle with White supremacy and how to be anti-racist. I still have work to do on this. I did become involved with a Black youth mentoring community and learned a lot there. I believe the only way forward is to build friendships and develop trust.
- Can you educate yourself on the true history of the violent forces that resulted in American Indians to be dispossessed of the lands sacred to them? That took native children from their families by force, to residential schools, where so many were physically or sexually abused. Where so many died? Which meant those children no longer fit into their home communities.
Not many Friends have engaged with Indigenous peoples. Most of us are White settlers, with a long history of cultural genocide and stealing naïve lands. I have taken advantage of numerous ways to develop friendships with native people. Quakers in particular usually exhibit enormous Spiritual bypassing related to the tragedies from the forced assimilation of native children. Quakers ran some of those Indian boarding schools. And we are living on land stolen from indigenous peoples.
We’re seeing the sudden collapse of our economic, social, health, education, and political institutions. And the impacts of rapidly accelerating environmental chaos.
Now is the time to pay a great deal of attention to our Spiritual life. Now is the time to join with others outside our usual circles. We all need each other.