Disclaimer: The issues dividing North Carolina Meeting and Northwest Yearly Meeting are serious, heartbreaking, and tragic. What I am about to say doesn’t deny that. Concerned people do need to reflect, reason, and discuss controversial issues in order that they may come together to bring hope and change and healing to those in need.
Meanwhile the world burns.
The United Nations refugee agency: "Nearly 60 million people have been driven from their homes by war and persecution, an unprecedented global exodus that has burdened fragile countries with waves of newcomers, and littered deserts and seas with the bodies of those who died trying to reach safety."
"The new figures paint a staggering picture of a world where new conflicts are erupting and old ones are refusing to subside, driving up the total number of displaced people to a record 59.5 million by the end of 2014, the most recent year tallied. Half of the displaced are children." (New York Times, June 18)
Of undocumented children detained in Australia for more than one year, 100 percent suffer from some form of mental illness because of their detention.
Think of all the excessive time and energy that is being spent on whether or not meetings can or can’t be part of two regional Friends Yearly Meetings, and how much valuable time and resources were wasted in Indiana Yearly Meeting for several years when it split.
What if instead of focusing on bureaucratic procedures from Faith and Practice, Friends INSTEAD took all that time, energy, and resources to start helping those 60 million people?! And got involved with the millions of other outreach needs--malnourished people, injustices, needed reconciliations, and the giving of hope.
Like so many religions, Quaker history has been rife with hairspitting;-). Shall I list all the controversies and splits?
How much did those thumb studies do to change the world, to rescue the perishing, care for the sick, minister to the suffering?
And what if instead of religious wrangling--spiritual gunslingers--Friends had heeded the call for empathy, compassion, and justice in 1688 when a few Friends protested slavery in 1688 in Germantown, Pennsylvania?
Instead, Friends put off that issue for almost 85 years! How much sorrow, injustice, and tragedy happened while Friends twiddled. And, then again in the 1800's when a few Friends rescued escaped slaves, meetings generally didn't want to get involved.
No, instead the petition against slavery by Francis Daniel Pastorius and three other Friends got lost in the meetings’ monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings. Religious bureaucracy.
No action was taken!
How much different and better might American history have turned out?
Don’t we learn anything from our past?
In the Light,