Quakers and Activism

On June 17th, we had a lively Spiritual Exploration Group (SEG) discussion about activism. Jim spoke of the Gnostic Gospel of Mary and our ascending to heaven while living through our actions and through seeking truth; sin as illusion and our struggle for goodness; our body as raiment cast off from the soul. God is within creating divine discontent when we see injustice in the world and aids us in our struggle to put harness aside.

Nelson and Alice spoke of their involvement with Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), protesting successfully to get the PNC bank to stop investment in mountaintop removal, and the ongoing effort to get PECO to embrace renewable energy sources.

Alice spoke passionately about her search for where to put her activism energy and how working with EQAT gave her hope. She and Nelson mentioned Eileen Flanagan's book, "Renewable: One Woman’s Search for Simplicity, Faithfulness, and Hope". (Another of her titles with an intriguing title: "The Wisdom to Know the Difference: When to Make a Change-and When to Let Go"). Significantly, Alice claimed that Quaker activists are much larger (and louder?) than our numbers suggest.

We explored working alone vs multiplying our efforts by enrolling others in our causes. And in terms of motivation, it was suggested that some view good works as a "ticket" to heaven. (It was suggested in jest that enrollment into our causes would be easier if we could offer indulgences.) In terms of corporate shareholders activism, it was suggested that a scheme for choosing the right path might be to follow the lead of the activist Catholic nuns. Living unselfishly helps to guide our path as well.

As we age and are less able we may slip into a more silent role, hoping for new young and energetic activists to step up. In our spiritual environment it was suggested that we speak on issues vs partisan politics.

We can all ask ourselves: where does my heart feel the most discontent (and be assured that there are many feeling similarly)?