Report on Global Change Consultation at Wyoming Friends Meeting

Queries 1 & 2:

•    People respond in various ways to the reality of massive change. Global warming forces us to think outside of the  box. Generally when we see change benefiting us we tend to think it is OK, otherwise we don’t like it. Somehow  this seems to contribute to global warming becoming an issue of hate. This issue generates a climate of distrust  and hate that feeds on itself. Much of the energy around global change ends up expressed as anger and hatred. I  have watched this develop over the years and I have tried to speak truth to this.

•    The physical reality is troublesome, actions we take have consequences. The consequence of the hate that has  surfaced is troublesome and must be  addressed. Somewhere in all of the conflict there is an answer. I don’t know how to get there.

•I     notice a sense of desperation among young children. To me it seems silliness to focus on climate change in light  of this. So what if the selfishness of humanity results in extinction of the human race? I believe we need to focus  on our relationships, especially those with young children today….maybe we should carry our babies on our backs a  little longer.

•    Those like myself who live in an isolated area have our own and unique challenges with regard to energy use.

•    We had some discussion surrounding why does it matter and who cares if Friends happen to have a significant or  distintive voice around global change: Friends may be able to offer a setting where people are free to discuss these issues.

•    Friends have a long history of discerning truth. This truth can provide a blueprint on who to move forward. One  example is the statement regarding the Israeli Palestine Crisis published c 1947-48.

•    Friends have a long-term viewpoint, and a hope and faith that our process will discern truth that may help  humankind to find a way forward. Friends seek to make a difference.

•    Friends have a long history of discerning truth, and identifying the key aspects that “speak truth to power.” There is a Pendle Hill pamphlet with this title.

Queries 3 & 4:

•    Importance of relationship with spirit is paramount for meaningful life.

•    Resources are honored (needs are reduced, recycled materials valued).

•    Reducing / eliminating violence, is key to freeing the spirit. These skills must be taught because the complexity of  living in the world makes self-discovery difficult, but the rewards are worth the effort.

•    Wrote Masters thesis in 1951 on South Africa as a product of 300 years of institutionalized racism and was convinced that any resolution would be bloody. In 1990 Nelson Mandela was freed from prison after minimal bloodshed given the historic circumstances. Two years later he was elected president and asked the warden of his former prison to attend his inauguration. Inspiration from Mandela fosters hope that other conflicts may have peaceful resolutions.

•    In my study of craniosacral therapy’s emphasis on the “health” of a person, I also relate the Breath of Life/Spirit as the focus of the “health” of the world which is always present in all the changes taking place. Remembering this focuses not on fear but on what I can do.

•    Economics as dominant myth that needs to be understood – when is it appropriate / when are economic solutions not an effective measure.

•    Respect for earth passed on to children but how do we reach beyond our families?

•    Willingness to shoulder responsibility in her family skipped a generation. Her grandchildren are more aware of the issues, and are willing to act on their awareness.

•    Regarding the 3rd query – faith not reason – faith in God’s will through all living creatures. We must stabilize then reduce the human population to 1/3 – of our present world population of 6-7 billion for sustainability.

•    The Chilean miner’s plight caused the world to respond in ways that give hope for our planet.

•    Both good and bad aspects. Machines / technology as disruptive for sense of community. For instance, some youth especially are connecting through electronic means (internet or wireless communications) vs being connected through touching people while looking into their eyes and listening to the sounds of their speech.  Faith is a “loaded word” with many connotations from being raised in a very conservative family.  Watching television takes a lot of   time, but is not very satisfying.  She desires more personal contact. Togetherness means more than transactions over medium(s) supported by (limited by) technology.

•    Privacy and HIPAA v making money by reselling secondary data from public health providers.

•    Usury (making money off of money) was identified as a means of making money off of poor people, which keeps people poor.

•    Technology not a substitute for personal contact.

•    Our responsibility is to do what we can whether that is to lecture, to teach, to be political but always to live our conviction. That is our sole responsibility. How things turn out, for good or ill, is NOT under our control and is not our responsibility.

•    Living in Turkey in 1950’s meant taking in groups in the evening. People would observe rituals of letting down their personal barriers, in ways that nurtured community connections. Today’s people do not understand how important those social rituals are, and they often lack emotional support that is necessary for a healthy community.

•    Blue Zones is a book about areas where people live long lives. Communities that allow people to support each other emotionally have been shown to have less disease and longer lives. Sharing information provides important benefits that are not well understood, but show measurable results.

Queries 5 & 6:

•    I feel deep gratitude for the gift of silent worship. Each part of God’s creation breathes with transcendent power; I need stillness to hear God’s breath.

•    I am present to the value of listening without an agenda: the importance of listening to other people- to people in other countries. Listening arises from the abundance of God- entering into the place of ‘not knowing’- and being open to outcome.

•    Simplicity is a relative term. Our society is highly complex, which leads to infinite choice, which leads to unpredictability, which leads to fear, which leads to uncertainty, which leads to fundamentalism, which leads to authoritarianism, which leads to the Law of Thermodynamics, which leads to entropy volatility:  people are afraid. In the face of this, let us live lives that manifest justice, compassion,
and peace; let us not force these on the world rather, let us allow our lives to speak.

•    Even as I am a tiny part that constitutes the whole of Being, so too, do I contain the whole of Being within me.  Insofar as I discover that of God abiding within me- eternal, infinite, whole and complete- bearing out the wisdom of Rabbi Hillel of old- who, when challenged to recite the entire Jewish Law standing on one foot, replied (standing one foot), ‘Love God and love others as yourself.’ From the perspective of my essential nature, there is no other:   I AM the other. For me, God is ‘Fair Witness’- the One who intimately knows every crack and crevice of my being in infinite detail yet loves and cherishes me unconditionally- despite the magnitude of my faults and the number of my failings. In
this way, God intimately knows and unreservedly loves every being on this Earth. May I come to love all beings in just such a way. May how we live our lives testify that we are justice, compassion and peace.

•    Feeling Good is not enough; we need to exemplify the logistics of change:  we need to be oriented toward concrete change; for example, we need to decrease the US military budget; we need to exert effort toward reconciliation and conflict transformation in such a way as did the South African Truth and Reconciliation commission led by Desmund Tutu that brought an end to the injustice of apartheid in that country; we need to diminish manifestations of threat and coercion throughout the world; we should spend two hours a day contacting government representatives to communicate our stand for humanity, compassion, justice and reconciliation as these values and concerns arise within our Quaker tradition. May this stand be fostered, encouraged and publicized!

•    The quantity and availability of world resources is limited. It is our responsibility to open ourselves to be led to share them with all beings on the planet in a way that is right before God.

•    Americans have access to and use an abundance of resources; I am embarrassed by this as I consider this use from a global perspective.  From this position of privilege, I am reluctant to tell others how to make the world a better place. We need, therefore, to be in consistent communication with Congress regarding social justice and peace issues- yet I am discouraged: we need to more equitably share the world’s resources; we need to increase compassion; we need to listen closely and sensitively to those with whom we disagree; we need to be open; to authentically connect with others.

•    The more I consume, the more I’m preoccupied with scarcity. The less I consume, the more I experience abundance.

•     How can we support one another in rekindling our love and respect for God’s Creation in such a way that we are messengers of the transforming power of love and hope? Available to us is the power of new technologies that enable individuals to communicate with each other. We are messengers of the transforming power of hope and love.

•    We do not trust the indwelling power, spirit: we do not trust the indwelling spirit of God in our own souls. We listen to the —– (holy?) one-Powerfully —– ?—”

•    May we breathe through our confusion and fear. May we be compassionate, open learners who allow others to teach us about sacrifice and love. When I reflect on compassion, I am reminded of the charred mother bird who puts her body over her chicks to protect them from the fire.

•    The world is full of paradoxes: love of God is expressed through material means- I think of the classic story of the poor drayman’s horse finally collapsing and dying in the street, and a Quaker walking by the gathered crowd of sympathizers. The Quaker, having enough of sympathizing only, initiated a concrete philanthropy by stating, “I’m sorry $20,” which separated the ‘talkers’ from the ‘activists’. I’m twenty dollars sorry- how much are you sorry? Materialism expresses the spirit of God. It takes more of a mathematician or an economist to solve world hunger rather than a poet.

•    The family that plays together stays together. I am holding an image of non-material play – holding ways of being together and enjoying each other rather than being focused on consuming.

•    In Jim Merkel’s book, Radical Simplicity, I am reminded of the metaphor of a banquet table filled with lovely delicious food. The banquet table represents the entire sum of all the resources in the world. People are waiting in line to partake of the food- all 6.8 or 7 billion of us.  We Americans happen to be standing near the front of the line, delighting in the abundance spread on the table before us. Do we turn our heads to look over our shoulders at the long line that stretches so far behind us- trailing off into the distance farther than we can see? Are we present to the astounding number of people in the world with whom we are obliged to share? Some researchers in the ecological footprint arena have worked out a systematic way to calculate the environmental impact of our use of the world’s resources in terms of the number of acres it takes to produce the resources we consume. When one considers the number of acres of arable land on the planet-including coastal regions that produce food and other resources from the world’s oceans, and when one considers the number of people on the planet and divide the former by the latter- we only get a little less than six acres apiece, yet the consumer lifestyle of the average American requires about 27 acres apiece. Here lies the source of the idea that it takes six and a half planet Earths to support the typical American lifestyle. How sustainable is that?

•    A central aspect of Christianity is this:  do not judge- through judging, we lose our own awareness of our responsibility. In the chapter on the simplicity testimony in the book, Quaker By Convincement, we are urgently encouraged to cultivate constant awareness of ourselves and our behavior. We are challenged to be authentically compassionate. This is hard! Amongst ourselves- losing patience with ourselves and each other we can become aware of the impact of our personal behavior in the world around us.