From taking sides to prayer
Peter Boyce (21 April) argues that ‘demonstrations, however well-intentioned, such as that of Greenham Common… represent the politics of hate, confrontation and violence… Taking sides leads to increased anger.’
This will surely come as a surprise to the thousands of Friends who marched to Aldermaston or who demonstrated against the Iraq invasion as part of our witness for peace and justice. The Kendal and Sedbergh Friends who this month marched from Brigflatts to Barrow town hall to demonstrate against the government’s dismantling of the welfare state may be puzzled to find themselves categorised by a Friend as participants in the politics of hate and confrontation.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote: ‘In the Bible we first encounter God when he sides with a bunch of slaves against a powerful Pharaoh… If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’ He speaks my mind. I take his side.
Job advertisements constitute a public statement. They provide information about the organisation itself, not just about the job, and I feel it is important that the information provided, including its subliminal messages, is congruent with Quaker testimonies.
Careful thought is required on how best to describe the paid roles involved in carrying out central Quaker work. Clearly a variety of job titles are in use, and most seem appropriately adapted to describe the nature of the work and level of responsibility of the post. However, there is one title in increasingly frequent use that never seems to sit quite comfortably. That is the title of ‘officer’.
The term ‘officer’ has connotations of military and paramilitary organisations as well as implications of the authoritarian side of public services. Such connotations and implications are in direct conflict with the Quaker ethos.
It appears quite regularly now in job advertisements. I should very much like those responsible to reconsider its use.
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