Report on Global Change Consultation at University Friends Meeting, Seattle WA

Present: Asia Bennett, Lee Bennett, Jonathan Betz-Zall, Rosy Betz-Zall, Dorene Cornwell, Bob Edgerton, Lucy Fullerton, Dorsey Green, Nancy Helm, Kathy Hubenet, Deborah Lewis, Samuel Mahaffey, Durdaana Rinderknecht, Clarena Snyder, Ann Stever,

After introductions, Friends shared stories answering: Where is your heart today in relation to global change?

Concern about the rate of change, e.g. in communications and rate of population growth. How can the earth support this, what are the limits and how will that be determined?

Be careful about jumping to solutions; take time to understand one another and mother earth.

Our consumption patterns are not sustainable. However, technology and the ability to talk with one another across huge distances are exciting. Dialogue is critical.

This change is like a truck out of control; we can steer and slow it down, but not return it to previous conditions. We need to acknowledge there WILL be change. Friends’ role is to ask how we, as a world, walk through the changes, dealing with emotions and fear.

Connect the issues, e.g. the environmental impact of war. Street sign: Where do the people and corporations despoiling the earth for short-term gain think they are going to live? Make connections, as we do, for example, about food (organic, where grown, by whom). The challenge to reduce energy consumption should come from the politicians and pulpit.

How deal with denial? We are capable of acting if we recognize a crisis (e.g. during World War II Americans recycled, re-used). Friends communities can facilitate change. These are exciting times because we can make a difference.

Primary concern is for other issues, e.g. immigration, peace, xenophobia, social justice, all of which are affected by global change and the pressures on resources. Love it that among Friends, we can trust that all these issues are being addressed and no one has to do it all.

Heart cries for those impacted (now and in the future) by global warming. Need for the world to acknowledge nonviolence and build the peace testimony.

Crisis is a human one. Need to work with one another, cooperate, trust one another. Technology won’t get us out of the crisis.

Need to own our own culpability without being paralyzed. This is hard to do!

Image of the speeding truck out of control was used a number of times. See danger AND opportunity. The longer we let the truck speed on, the harder to make any adjustment. Reference to a 1976 book, Soft Energy Paths by Amory Lovins about the problems of building a culture on no-renewable resources. Organic farming is a positive outcome.

Hard to think about the crisis because it is so big and there are so many unintended consequences to actions. Quakers have been most effective when doing realistic, practical, small projects in collaboration with others.

Hard to talk with those who do not care and/or are ignorant.

Another comment on population growth, unsustainable.


The six queries were read and Friends invited to address any. Comments summarized by query.

#3 – A relationship with God is like stepping into a yellow stream and being grounded. Keep our knees bent in the stream (i.e. be flexible), and we can overcome being frantic or scared. If we are not afraid, we can engage.

#4 – When WTO was in Seattle, many ordinary people tried to make peace; some came out, without organizing, to read the Constitution aloud when the Mayor declared martial law. With a wide variety of people and languages and ideas, it seemed that people understood one another.

In Port Townsend, the experience of a problem with the water supply made people realize how vulnerable they are. (In 3 hours all stores sold out of bottled water.) The whole experience made people realize the importance of trusting and sharing with one another.

History from Biblical plagues through AIDS teaches us humans look for someone else to blame. Is it too easy for us now to blame corporate entities?

#5. Express ourselves in gratitude and joy (e.g. parties).

Nonviolence training teaches us to love despite conflict, by helping us realize that we all are connected.

Accept vulnerability and fragility AND still sing.

#6 – Work within neighborhood, e.g. organizing against the Iraq War. Get people together for disaster preparedness (earthquakes).

It helps to be prepared for change.

We pray: Give us this day our daily bread. Planning is a luxury of privilege; with privilege comes responsibility. We do not have to rely on God every day as a large portion of the world does. How would our responses change if we were not privileged?

Exodus tells of the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. But then the Israelites had to spend 40 years in the wilderness, doing the hard work of building community. We may find solutions to Global Change, but will then have to do the hard work.

Share what we are for rather than against. Build connections by listening, so that we are able to act together, and quickly when necessary.

Stay spiritually grounded and do not be judgmental.

Acknowledge our life-style (in the U.S.) will change; it may look like deprivation, but we may find greater joys of community. Expectation, however, of massive political upheaval, for which we need to prepare spiritually, emotionally and, in some ways, physically.

Friends have the capacity to hold one another spiritually through challenging times of change. Be there for one another.

Friends have high ideals we rarely manage live up to, but we need to try to support one another to be “messengers of the transforming power of love and hope.” One way is to express appreciation for what each person is doing.

Quakers know that the first thing we have to do is come together in worship; that is the starting point. And, we will be in this for the long haul and will therefore have to keep coming back to that starting point of corporate worship.

Worship opens us up, gets us safe and grounded. Hard to say if we receive new ideas in worship, or if we have cleared the decks for new ideas to emerge.

Empower others by talking about love and hope; concentrate on the spiritual side.