Quakers welcome Biden: ‘There’s a lot to do!

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) tweeted its congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

US Friends have welcomed Joe Biden’s US presidential win, saying that there is much work to be done. The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) tweeted its congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, adding: ‘Democracy has prevailed. We can’t wait to work with you and the next Congress – there’s a lot to do!’

In the UK, Christian Aid urged Joe Biden to swiftly embrace a green agenda, highlighting that, for the first time in history, climate change was a major election issue.

‘This is a significant victory for the climate which should have a material impact on efforts to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon world,’ said Christian Aid’s senior climate lead Kat Kramer. ‘The United States may have formally withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, but it’s telling that despite four years of waging war on climate action, Donald Trump’s successor will make this a very brief exit for the United States.

‘Since Trump came to office… we’ve seen a groundswell of subnational climate action taking place in the United States at the state and city level which will now be given new support from a Biden White House.

‘It’s now essential that Biden ensures the US makes up for lost time and moves quickly to implement green recovery policies which will accelerate the shift to a cleaner and safer world for all.’

The results came after a tense week, in which Quakers across the US did what they could to help support the process. New England Friends held an ‘Election Worship’ vigil the evening before the election, while Quakers from Worcester-Pleasant Street Friends Meeting held a ‘Protect the Results’ rally on November 5. ‘We had hot and cold cider, and four different homemade soups. There were lots of waves and honks from passersby,’ they wrote on their Facebook page.

Other Friends spoke about how Quaker values can help alleviate some of the divisions left behind. ‘I don’t know the best path forward. But I’m pretty sure it’s about accepting that we’re a divided country. And I’m pretty sure it’s not about hating each other for believing different stories. Different stories is who we are,’ said Craig Freshley, from Durham ME Meeting in a column in the Portland Press Herald.

Eileen Flanagan, a Philadelphia author and activist, described how her Quaker practices had helped her in the tense period waiting for the result to be announced. 

‘I feel like my spiritual practices this week have made me more patient than some of the people I’ve seen on social media,’ she said in a piece called ‘The Quaker view from Pennsylvania on how to wait patiently for election results’ in The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

‘Another Quaker principle is trying to speak only the truth, and a lot of what I hear are rumours, speculation, and that isn’t helpful.’

Meanwhile, eighty-two-year-old Friend George Lakey, said he has spent recent days ‘collapsing happily’. ‘We were born in the middle of a civil war. Incredible polarisation in England. A king [Charles I] lost his head… It makes our polarisation child’s play,’ he said. ‘So our DNA goes back to that time, when history was going crazy. And we found a spiritual way of staying centred and staying focused and acting, and acting relevantly, in the application of social testimonies. And so we were politically active but not in a partisan way. We had social change goals, social justice goals, that we were pursuing in the middle of a very chaotic situation.’

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