From a 'Quiet Day' to seeking in Meeting
Were the disputes currently happening over Brexit occurring at Local Meeting level, Friends would probably be calling for a Meeting for Clearness.
It is unlikely that all the parliamentary factions would agree to attend such a meeting, even if invited by the heads of the churches and other faiths, but it might be worth a try. Quakers might be well placed to initiate such an idea.
An alternative might be to ask the BBC and ITV to lead the nation in a ‘Quiet Day’. There would be no political news, views or discussion broadcast. In their place would be appropriate music and pictures of nature, or works of art with messages underneath. The messages might say such things as: ‘Think you may be mistaken’ and ‘Be open to new ideas wherever they may come from’.
It might just be possible that this could help to break the impasse we are in.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, the journalist, gave the thirty-fourth Coventry Peace Lecture on 13 November. She described herself as a political refugee of 1972 who loves Britain, with its freedom, justice and equality. However, Britain also has fragmentation, she said, because of austerity and not paying equal attention to the whole of Britain. Fragmentation is causing discrimination and prejudice, she argued. I worry that this may apply to Quakers in Britain.
I have some descriptions of fragmenting. In Area Meeting minutes, my Local Meeting is a branch. Correspondence clarifies: ‘It’s merely a branch.’
My Local Meeting talks of ‘attenders and members’, amplifying a sad truth – we and them. (‘Seekers’ is a better word.) These descriptions are, I think, fragmenting Quakers.
Quakers are better together. Meeting for Sufferings seeks to promote inclusion and diversity.
We should listen to what we say and what we mean. We should nurture. Could every minute we write, action we take and every word we say apply this question: ‘How is this nurturing?’
Could this bring us together more, encourage greater inclusion and help us, as Quakers, in ‘speaking out’ to the world?
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