Personal Responsibility

I’ve mentioned that one way Quakers share and develop their spiritual lives are by considering a series of questions, we refer to as queries.  Each month there are a set of queries to think about and discuss together on a certain topic.

A number of members of my home Quaker meeting, Bear Creek, near Earlham, Iowa, don’t live near the meetinghouse, so we send our responses to the meeting via email.  This months queries are related to the topic of personal responsibility, with my response following.

“Life is meant to be lived from a Center, a divine Center–a life of unhurried peace and power. It is serene. It takes not time, but it occupies all our time.”   Thomas Kelly

ADVICE
Historic testimonies of the Society of Friends against taking oaths, joining secret organizations, gambling and using addictive substances grew out of efforts of Friends to live with integrity and consistency. To swear an oath implied that one is obliged to be truthful only under oath. Joining secret organizations, gambling and using addictive and/or consciousness altering substances were recognized as practices which diverted resources from useful purposes, distracted attention from the Inner Light, and placed obstacles in the way of Friends seeking to lead lives of integrity. We recognize the spirit of these testimonies and endeavor to apply the same principles in our lives today.

Honesty and simplicity are essential parts of personal responsibility. We manifest our commitment to Truth in all we do. We can have joy and beauty in our lives without allowing material things to dominate them. We need to free ourselves from distractions that interfere with our search for inner peace, and accept with thanksgiving all that promotes fullness and aids in service to the divine Center.

QUERY
• How do we center our lives in the awareness of God the’ Spirit, so that all things may take their rightful places?
• How do we structure our individual lives in order to keep them uncluttered with things and activities? How does Meeting help us examine our personal lives for simplicity?
• Do we choose recreational activities which foster mental, physical and spiritual health?
• How are our lives affected by tobacco, alcohol and drug use? What can we do to deal with problems resulting from their use? What can we do to recognize and deal with unhealthy ways we treat ourselves?¬
• How do we ensure that we act with fairness and integrity?
• Are we sensitive to our own use of language which may be offensive or oppressive to others?
My response this month:
As Martin Luther King, Rev William Barber, and others have stated, the three main evils of our time are materialism, militarism, and racism, and all seem ever more powerful today.
As the extent of environmental destruction becomes ever more clear, I wish Friends, especially, would live with environmental integrity.  I know there are challenges for those who live in rural areas, but it is simply environmentally irresponsible to use a gasoline powered personal automobile.  I know people are tired of hearing me say this, but it is just wrong to continue with “business as usual”.
Dealing with the loss of my lifelong partner, Randy, five years ago, forced me to deeply consider the meaning of life.  I reached a point where only listening to the inner light provided any way forward.  As I have more intensely and constantly focused on that, I have become more comfortable in giving what I do over to the spirit.  I awake each morning with the question, “what are we doing today?”  The answer to that is what leads me to write almost daily on my blog about these matters.  The answer to that led me to the Kheprw Institute (KI) and the deeply rewarding work they share with me in building the Beloved community.  The answer to that has led me to work with the #NoDAPL community, and deeply enriching engagement with Native Americans here in Indianapolis.  The answer to that was the only reason I agreed to be clerk of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee even though I really questioned I would be able to do the work.  And continues to make me appreciate the Bear Creek meeting, Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), and North Meadow Circle of Friends communities.

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