Letters - 02 June 2017

From perpetuating division to equality at Yearly Meeting Gathering

Perpetuating division

David Boulton (28 April) comments that it will ‘surely come as a surprise to the thousands of Friends who marched to Aldermaston or who demonstrated against the Iraq invasion’ to learn of Peter Boyce’s argument (21 April) that ‘demonstrations, however well-intentioned… represent the politics of hate… [leading] to increased anger’.

Surprising maybe and sometimes, of course, we do need to take a stand.

However, it might worth considering some of the shortcomings of one-sidedness, which can perpetuate division – a ‘them and us’, ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ mentality. In the short term, considering that we occupy the moral high ground might help us feel safe and secure when amongst our own kind. But in the longer term that which is marginalised as totally unacceptable will always sabotage such a view in the end. The conflict between the opposites will be maintained and even escalate, creating a flip-flop process, between for example ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’, ‘communism’ and ‘capitalism’, Labour and Conservative…

As a basic position, we stand to benefit from our capacity for cooperation, learning to communicate across our differences, to listen, to exchange opinions, to share and negotiate around that which we disapprove of in the ‘other’, heeding Alastair McIntosh’s wisdom (5 May), when he addresses the shortcomings of a binary worldview.

Whilst not guaranteeing the outcome we seek, such an approach will do far more towards ‘taking away the occasion of all wars’ than promoting a one-sided approach that perpetuates the ‘divide and rule’ dynamic, so destructively dominating today’s social and political climate.

Susan Holden


Congratulations to Alex Thomson for his ‘Thought for the Week’ on 19 May!

He is right – the major malaise of ‘Today’s Society’ is the limitation imposed on all by the lack of understanding of the importance of the spiritual aspect of all people/beings.

The problem is how to increase this knowledge – without incurring a negative attitude to religion? I agree it is important for all Quakers to consider this.

Anthony Fox

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