I’ve been writing lately about how the economic, educational, and political systems we have grown up with are no longer working, and we need to find new ways to move forward. When it seems so many different things are going wrong, it can be helpful to step back in order to try to get an overview of our situation. Discovering how things are interconnected can help identify what the root problems are. Doing that can make our efforts for change more effective. Addressing root causes will result in positive changes in all of the problems arising from that cause.
This summer at the annual gathering of Quakers belonging to Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), the Peace and Social Concerns Committee wrote the following statement (Minute) that was then approved by the Yearly Meeting.
Although there are references to Quakers, the statement pertains in a broader sense, being a more general spiritual view of the state of the world.
I find it striking that the root causes identified below and the same that Martin Luther King warned about: materialism, militarism and racism.
We as Quakers, experience the unifying core that animates all peoples and nature. This common experience compels us to work at resolving injustices that separate peoples and people from nature.
American society, in which we live and breathe, is today saturated by greed and violence to the extent that life as we know it veers toward extinction. Maladies that we experience as separate are in reality deeply interconnected.
Examples are legion:
- Our imperialist foreign policy, which encompasses mass killings of people of color has the same roots as violence within our borders.
- Gun violence parallels military violence and systemic racism.
- Domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse are directly coupled with military violence and structural poverty.
- Massive population displacement results from war, climate disruption and economic policy.
- Climate disruption follows from the unquenchable greed and military dominance that alienates us from each other and the rest of the world.
Only radical turning will save the world. It is both frightening and challenging to consider that a great part of both the problem and the solution lies within U.S. society.
Our hope rests in the spirit of Christ moving within and among us and our attentiveness to its direction. Within Friends, different members bring different gifts of discernment and action.
Artistic creativity opens possibility and inspires broader participation. Those who faithfully lobby lawmakers and insert themselves in democratic processes move us forward. Those who engage in healing and rebuilding our communities provide the basis for peace and stability. Interrupting the racism woven into our culture opens untold possibilities. Alternatives to Violence workers dismantle roots of violence and build bridges. Those who aid in releasing us from the greed endemic to capitalism can do much to save the environment and interrupt rapacious resource exploitation. Spirit-grounded educators ease technological and intellectual barriers to the world we seek. Individuals nearing the end of their life may offer unique wisdom, love and support to those with the energy to continue life on earth.
Quaker Social Change Ministry of AFSC, Advocacy Teams of FCNL, Experiment with Light, and Clearness Committees are among the various Quaker techniques for moving us forward towards the Light and away from fear and despair. How we avail ourselves of them will rest on the particular resources of the communities in which we live and diverse gifts within our meetings.
We have one purpose; a spiritual awakening and creating a peaceful, loving, just and sustainable world. And there are diverse approaches to reach the goal. We act in harmony when we support, appreciate, and speak truth to those whose struggles intersect with ours, even when the paths seem to be different.
Minute approved by Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), 2016