Should we be worried that TCFM’s Peace and Social Action Committee (PSAC) and Community Service Committee (CSC) have been inactive for over a year?
Some of our members who are deeply grounded in the religious traditions of western civilization are worried. They say (as best I understand them)
“We are all connected to one another. Whether you look to Jesus Christ or were raised Jewish, or something else, everywhere our traditions say not to turn your back on the poor, on suffering.
Quakers have our own splendid tradition of prison reform, working against slavery, caring for the victims of war. How can we, a fine, strong Quaker Meeting with many resources, not be active of behalf of others less fortunate?”
For myself, personally, I am not so concerned. My own leadings from the unseen world have led me to the identity of a Gaia Troubadour, and to work toward a Quaker Community Forest and to take a responsible role in the life of the Meeting. I may not be offering much more than token support for social justice, or caring for the homeless, but I feel like I am being faithful to my Light. And there have been years when, following that same Light, I have been almost invisible, within the life of the meeting. I want to believe that what is true for me is true for all of us; that we are being true to our deepest promptings and that we are living lives faithful to those promptings. If our days are filled with child-rearing or other activities that nourish the souls of ourselves and others, so be it. It is not our place to “should” one another to “look busy” at traditional Quaker activities, unless we are led there by Spirit.
As Clerk of Meeting, I find myself in a somewhat different position.
While I feel no need to “recruit” to repopulate PSAC and CSC, I do feel we should ask ourselves, “are we missing something important here?” I want to join with the voices of those who express worry about TCFM’s lack.
I want to press us as a Meeting community to do some soul-searching. If we, as a community, can look at the pain of the world, can engage with it, recognizing “there but for grace, go I”… if we can truly acknowledge the misery and injustice in foreign lands and in our own neighborhoods and can say, “I am doing what I need to do, what I am called to,”… if we can clear-mindedly, as a community ask these questions, and give this answer, and PSAC and CSC remain inactive, I will be content.
And at the moment, the TCFM community has its hands full, restoring our damaged buildings to health. This includes making some challenging decisions together, and probably trying to raise a bunch of money in time when people are frightened about money.
So your Clerks Team is not pressing for a big soul-searching effort at the moment, but we don’t want to let the issue slip away, unnoticed. We say, “let’s keep this simmering on the back burner, and look forward to the time when we can give it our undivided attention.” This web-log entry is a part of the keep-it-simmering process, and we will look for other ways to keep the issue cooking at a high enough temperature that it doesn’t go bad.
So here are a few queries for your individual back burners.
- Can I find a voice within myself that would press me toward the advocacy of the Peace and Social Action Committee or toward the human service of Community Service Committee? Without making any commitments about joining another committee, can I find a still small voice within myself that is hungry for such things? And, if I can find such a voice, can I encourage it to say more to me?
If I anticipate a time when my spiritual community will gather specifically to discuss what TCFM should be doing in the areas of redressing injustice and serving those who are suffering, what might I say? Do I believe my Quaker community needs to witness in these areas? Whether I personally offer myself to that work or not, what might I say to other members of our community?