From love language to shared humanity
I identify with all the ideas in George Macpherson’s ‘Words on the Word’ (22 March) except the opener: the right of humans to rule the planet, which I find a possibly dangerous notion to start with.
I love language and literature, reading and writing both prose and poetry. It can lift us out of ourselves, but it is so often misused by all of us, especially our leaders, even in the listening melting pot of a Quaker Meeting.
Gestures of love and friendship can, of course, also be misunderstood but I suggest not as often as words, where we look for nuances of sincerity, have to fight to have the last word, and sometimes recognise downright fibs and/or intention to hurt.
Stroking a cat or dog, or watching wildlife living in a parallel world, soothes us into a reflective mode that is often more productive on a personal level. On a wider level we do well to remember the solace and nonjudgmental feelings obtained by such communing. The learning to feel and listen should benefit all species, where although hierarchies will and should develop, they should not become power hungry and exploitative as humans have done all over the world. Sometimes we need to relearn the instinct to love and nurture, like the dogs we applaud who instinctively lie down with injured people to keep them warm, or bees working for the good of the community who needed no words to compel them to do it. For us, even helpful words of the gospel and other spiritual writings promote humility.
Like many others I have been disturbed by events on Brexit. I believe there is a time and place for direct democracy and a time and place for representative democracy but our largely unwritten constitution offers no means of reconciling them. Indeed, the context in which the referendum was conducted has put the two in direct conflict and the inevitable result has been chaos with factionalism, entrenchment and personal attacks.
If it is this context that is at fault then perhaps, as Quakers, we should hold in the light those charged with implementing Brexit, and accept them as good people doing their best to create order out of the chaos they inherited.
In the longer term I believe that direct democracy will assume greater future prominence in the governance of our country and we need a national conversation on how to harmonise direct and representative democracy. This is an area in which Quakers have a great deal to contribute and I hope we will participate in, and possibly initiate, such a conversation.
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