Report on Global Change Consultation at Yonge Street Half Yearly Meeting

1. How has global change affected our communities and ourselves?

I am concerned about population pressures on the earth’s resources, land and justice issues.

(at age 93) I’ve retired from a sense of engagement in this concern.  But I am also concerned about our reproductive capacity and its impact on God’s creation.  The idea of ownership of the earth bothers me; earth is on lease from God

In the 19th century there was a belief that man was the master of all things.  Today it is played out in our rape of the earth’s resources – but we are all subject to nature’s changes.

Look at the larger world – we know there are many things we should do differently.  Individually we can make little changes, but it is easy to slip up.  We must put into action what we already know.  But North Americans are guilty.

As Thich Nhat Han says, “all things are inter-being.” These changes are happening to me, the broader me.  We have to work on developing the feeling that man is part of nature..  Not sure how Quakers contribute to this, except that we are the universe.  Everything touches.

Fewer bird sightings, movement of animals’ habitats to different climate zones, concern for future for grandchildren.

2. What actions have we taken in response….?

I am overwhelmed by information from Quaker Earthcare Witness , etc.  “Globalism” has caused much of these issues, to support the high western standard of living.

Climate change is tied to “globalization.”  I feel a sense of guilt every time I drive or fly – we may be forced to become vegetarians. (age 90?)

We need evidence regarding alternate energy generation that will counter the lack of will to change in Canada.

There is a culture of fear – of economic insecurity if we give up what we already have.  This applies to the message to invest in ways that will support us in our retirement.  So, in order to be “responsible” for ourselves, we buy mutual funds in industries we may not really want to support.  What alternative models are more positive?

Increase in gardening to grow fresh foods, buying from farmers markets, trying to manage without a car, , holding out a hand to those less fortunate, e.g. grandmothers to grandmothers in Africa.

3. How do changes around us affect our relationship to God?…..

My own personal transformation is adequate for me, but only if it is balanced  and extended by others‘ activism.  I want to believe in the value of being an example.

I want my life to fit with my pronouncements…all of a piece with being a Friend..  I can’t tell anyone else what to do; I have to acknowledge my own shortfalls.

4. What stories and experiences from past times… might inspire us?

(no comments….)

5. How can we bear witness to the abundance God offers us….?

How do we articulate our spiritual response?  Treat people as individuals and see the divine in each one.

How do we nicely point out opportunities to conserve energy when we see unnecessary air conditioners, opportunities for solar water heaters, etc. (long list).  There are many potential solutions.

We need to heed Gandhi’s statement: “what we need is high thinking and simple living.  Instead, we have simple thinking and high living.”

Human potential is infinite, with God’s grace.  But we have to acknowledge our morality.  Political power is demonic; economic power is destructive.

What would Christ teach about today’s world?  He said, my kingdom is not of this world, but we do live in this world.  We have to question our own negative contribution.  The Gulf oil spill really moved me.  These are the questions God is putting to us.  Will there be a positive response before we depart (aged 94).  We need His merciful guidance.

Quakers have the experience of putting the spirit of love and service into practice – not as a sentimental  emotion.

This is our great task, as Friends:  “Service before Self.”

6. How can we support one another… in order to be messengers of the transforming power of love and hope?

This is important; I worry about the apocalyptic view, and forgetting the positive.

The Dali Lama says we have the opportunity to extend the horrors of the 20th century, or use the 21st century for dialogue.   Transform into right, moral, spiritual thinking.  It’s not that we can’t; it’s that we don’t.

I start from the belief if that of God in every person and love your neighbor as yourself.  But I have three recent experiences of encountering people/groups that have the opposite position to mine on an issue in which I thought the “right” position was simply obvious.  How do we love one another through these differences?

Quaker way is to ask to look for “that of God: on each side and use our compassion for one another.  Don’t believe “we” will have the answer – that’s presumptuous.

We need to learn more about the positive effects of something that has been portrayed as negative.  One newspaper covered the amount of electricity produced by wind generators during the recent windstorm.

Believe in the “abiding love of God.”  The human material world changes; truth does not change.  We have the freedom, power to manage change.  If we ignore the spiritual vision, we become media driven, rather than spirit-led.

Take example of native and indigenous people in their view of creation and the Creator.