A Quaker and Native Peoples: Part 3

I’m somewhat surprised that what I wrote yesterday, “I believe our only hope for addressing our evolving environmental catastrophe is to follow the wisdom, spirituality, and centuries of experience of Indigenous peoples,” didn’t result in anyone, so far, challenging that. Of course no comment does not indicate agreement. And there are rarely comments anyway.

Those words surprised me, actually. Some time ago I came to that conclusion, that we needed the guidance of Indigenous peoples. But I hadn’t taken the next step, to realize White people, a lot of White people, will need to learn these native ways. I hope my writings here might be of some help. This might also help native peoples learn about our spirituality. There is precious little to see of White spirituality publicly today.

Listening to hear what I am being led to write often goes to unexpected places. Yesterday was an example. I hadn’t expected to write about Quaker rapper Sterling Duns speaking about “Dreaming of Wholeness: Quakers and the Future of Racial Healing”. But of course that is relevant to what I’ve been writing about my spirituality, and my experiences with Native peoples and their spirituality.

“It feels simple and deeply radical to just say as a group that is committed to honoring that of God in everyone, that that person of color, that Black person is deserving to have their full humanity recognized by me as a Quaker. That’s a simple thing to say and it’s a radical thing to say.”

“Quakers are equipped to have a role in the racial healing work we need today because inherent to the faith, inherent to the spiritual practice is the belief in that of God in everyone.

“I spend time dreaming about the future and really spending some deep time imagining what it would be like for us all to be free.”

Sterling Duns

I was raised in the rural Quaker community of Bear Creek Friends. Although I’m sure I was often impatient, sitting for an hour in quiet, I absorbed that idea that Sterling Duns talks about, the belief in that of God in everyone. I’m told one day when I was about 8 years old I spoke in meeting, saying “God is love.” I took the worship of Quaker meeting seriously.

I was impressed by words Friends (Quakers) spoke into the silence, which I could tell came from a spiritual place. I was also deeply impressed by the stories of the Quaker men of the meeting going to prison because they refused to participate in the military and war. They showed me that our actions must always be guided by God, even knowing what the consequences would be. It was their example that led me to become a draft resister at the time of the Vietnam War.

It matters little what men say they believe when their actions are inconsistent with their words.

An Epistle to Friends Concerning Military Conscription

What led them, and me, to refuse to participate in war was our fundamental belief in that of God in everyone. We could never kill anyone, because there is that of God in every person. Even those our government classified an enemy.

That belief made it impossible for me to consider that Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, anyone not a straight, White person, however you define White, could in any way be of less worth than me. To think that absolutely denies that of God in them.

I am aware of how I benefit from structural racism. I am certain I’m not always aware of what I might say or do comes from ingrained White superiority. I know I need to better learn to be anti-racist.

But knowing there is that of God in everyone guided my experiences with the Kheprw Institute community. Guided my experiences as I have come to know my native friends.

It seems this stream of consciousness has once again led me to a place I hadn’t anticipated. You might have the impression all I do is think and write. That is pretty close to the truth. I hope this might be helpful for my native friends especially, to understand my spirituality. I am anxious to learn more about theirs. This is the main reason I was so anxious to join the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March.

“I spend time dreaming about the future and really spending some deep time imagining what it would be like for us all to be free.”

Sterling Duns

This entry was posted in #NDAPL, Indigenous, Quaker, spiritual seekers, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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