There was evidently a reason I was led to name my blog Quakers, Social Justice and Revolution when I was called to wrestle with issues publicly. Writing a blog and sharing those writings on social media helped me clarify many things that had been confusing, often with the help of others who responded, which is one reason why this is important to do publicly. Rev. William Barber recently wrote, “Quakers, it’s time to get back into the public square.”
Because we are in the midst of a revolution, and have the opportunity to influence how it will evolve.
I am grateful to have been raised as a Quaker. To have witnessed a people who base their lives on faith, which of necessity is expressed in concern for and care of all people, since God is present in every single being. I was born into a Quaker community that had just experienced the imprisonment of many of its members for refusing to participate in war.
Of course this commitment to obey the spirit rather than man-made rules is not limited to Quakers.
My own spiritual life has recently been radicalized by my involvement with two new, for me, communities. One is the Kheprw Institute (KI), “a community organization that works to create a more just, equitable, human-centered world by nurturing youth and young adults to be leaders, critical thinkers and doers who see the people in any community as the most valuable assets and are committed to working with marginalized communities to bring about change that leads to empowered self-sustainable communities.”
The other is my experience in many different ways with Indigenous peoples, that began with local involvement in Indianapolis to support the water protectors at Standing Rock in the struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline. I have been profoundly affected by their deeply spirit led lives, and stunning example of nonviolence in the face of extreme state sponsored violence against them.
As Nahko says, nonviolent direct action is the way to a successful revolution.
My first experience with nonviolent resistance was a long, difficult struggle that resulted in my decision to become a draft resister during the Vietnam War. Next was my lifelong commitment to refuse to participate in the war on our environment by refusing to own a personal automobile. Then, in 2013, I joined the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, and was trained to organize and carry out acts of nonviolent direct action, including training others in the art of nonviolent civil disobedience. I similarly trained those involved in Indiana Moral Mondays.
Last year I was heavily engaged with local activities to support the water protectors at Standing Rock, including the campaign to defund the pipeline with actions against the banks that are financing it.
I am now studying and writing about integral nonviolence and the national nonviolent direct action campaign outlined by Chris Moore-Backman in his recent book, The Gandhian Iceberg.
All of this has led me to construct the following advices and queries. This is a method Quakers have traditionally used to reflect on various aspects of their lives. The advice is used to introduce the topic, then the queries are questions used to stimulate responses to that. This is a powerful technique when used by the gathered meeting, as the group works on the responses together.
I increasingly feel we need to rapidly and radically respond to two fundamental crises: environmental destruction and the racial economy. Our unfolding environmental disaster will actually accelerate the demise of the racial economy.
The environmental damage to the earth is significantly greater than most people understand, and numerous conditions mean dramatic increases in air and water temperatures, rising sea levels, acidification of the oceans, changing precipitation patterns with floods, droughts and massive fires, scarce clean water supplies, migration of disease vectors, strong winds, and significantly decreased food production for many reasons will result in massive death by starvation, dehydration and disease. Mass migrations of people will occur. This will totally breakdown our economic, political and social systems. All of this is occurring now and will get worse at a rapidly accelerating rate.
• Are we willing to commit ourselves to addressing this immediately?
• How can we work for the necessary immediate cessation of the use of fossil fuels, and rapid development of locally owned and operated renewable energy systems?
• How do we build local, just, self-sufficient, resilient, Beloved communities?
• How do we recruit, train, and deploy a nonviolent army of spiritual warriors?
The economic and political system of the United States is built on racial capitalism. White people, especially males, enjoy privileges based upon land stolen from Indigenous peoples, who experienced genocide and are experiencing ongoing state supported violence and oppression. Racial capitalism is built on a history of slavery and ongoing state supported violence, death, and mass incarceration. Racial capitalism is built on the labor of migrant workers. Racial capitalism disrespects women.
Massive unemployment in this system that requires currency for trade and services is immoral and often intentional.
The rich have exploited all of this to an unconscionable degree with massive inequality in the distribution of wealth. The rich have developed extensive militarized systems to extract resources and protect their wealth, both domestically and abroad. The rich have developed intrusive systems of surveillance, and increasingly suppress civil rights and criminalize dissent.
• How can we reject and dismantle racial capitalism?
• How can we personally redistribute our wealth with our immediate neighbors?
• How can we practice, recruit and teach others about radical faith based living?