Letters - 15 May 2020

From decision-making processes to the climate emergency

Decision-making processes

I am uneasy about your news item regarding Vibrancy plans (1 May). I am not comforted by the text of the letter referred to, sent to Meeting for Sufferings representatives and alternates. You refer to ‘a statement from BYM’ (Britain Yearly Meeting). That’s not the Yearly Meeting in session – we haven’t met. It’s not Quaker Life Central Committee either, within whose remit this work clearly belongs. Nor is it Sufferings itself (‘Yearly Meeting between sessions’), whose responsibility such important decisions should be.

We know that there has been an external survey to gauge Friends’ reactions to the programme. This was not carried out in accordance with Friends’ established processes – answering a set of questions in a survey is unlikely to produce the same result as a discerning body discussing a subject and weighing the pros and cons.

The proposals represent a considerable expense – at a time when many of our individual incomes are being reduced and our ability to support the Yearly Meeting, Woodbrooke, and all our other deserving causes is severely stretched. The Yearly Meeting’s corporate income will reduce, as we know, through loss of hospitality business, and falling dividends.

The letter commences with the words ‘We wanted… to share the decisions that have been made.’ It is not consultation, then. I hope very much that this whole process, embracing vibrancy, local development workers, and indeed the pilot hub (whatever that is) will be put firmly on hold until Sufferings has had a real opportunity to consider all implications.

Peter Speirs

Essence and sense

The article by Mary de Pleave on conscious idling (24 April) resonated. I found it very uplifting, full of joy and love of life’s essence and sense. ‘Alice in Wonderland’ could not do it better.

We didn’t need any Zoom to see in our minds’ eye her friend Marjorie, and Dora. What a gift, flowers painted in 1911 by an eighteen-year-old for her friend.

Mary tells us that the skill of idling is not complicated but is sadly missing in the education system of today. There is no chance to stare ‘as long as sheep or cows’, or love of curiosity for its own sake and honouring imagination.

Yet most of us, like Alice, seem to be running constantly but remaining in the same spot. The Cheshire Cat tells us that ‘only a few find the way’ but some don’t recognise it when they do.

It seems conscious idling can be a very worthwhile way, and offers different styles. ‘Oh for Pete’s sake’ we idle differently, as Mary explains in her own inimitable way.

‘How we get there is where we arrive.’

I love the idea that having the mentality of an idler may help in difficult circumstances. ‘A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.’ – WH Davies

Miriam Ryan

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