Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Quaker Blogs

Are you getting tired of blogs filled with invective and bloggers who are quick to assume that everyone with a contrary opinion has evil motivations and intentions? If so, you might want to check out the following website:

This is a website that contains links to recent blog postings by Quakers, people belonging to the Religious Society of Friends. Quakers believe that everyone has "that of God within", i.e. no one is irredeemably evil, and consider it a religious duty to seek and awaken that "small quiet voice within" everyone they encounter -- even those who vehemently disagree with them.

Brighten your day by reading some Quaker blogs.


MartinK said...

Hi Dave,
Thanks for the link. I could point you to a couple of dozen Quaker flame wars, but yes indeed our goal is mutual respect and a collective search for spiritual grounding and guidance. I'm glad to hear it's a day brightener!
In Friendship, Martin Kelley
QuakerRanter and QuakerQuaker

Richard Turner said...

Hi, Dave: I see you're a former Democratic official. Did you resign or do you still consider yourself a Demo?

Maybe you can clarify something for me. In our community (small town in Montana), the Quakers seem to consider themselves too spiritually evolved for us Democrats. They view us from on high as being too worldly or something.

I meet (and join) them at peace demonstrations and ask them to join us in electing Democrats, but they refuse, saying that, to them, we're just like the Republicans (which is false, false, false).

Why are they such spiritual snobs?

Dave Barrett said...

Richard Turner,
I am very much still a Democrat but am no longer a Precinct Committeeman or city chairman.
I can not speak for the Quakers in general, much less for the specific ones in your town. But I will point out that if you are attending peace demonstrations with the purpose of getting Democrats elected then you have very different purposes and goals than they do. They are attending the peace demostration in order to try and bring peace. If you want them to work to get Democrats elected you will have to convince them that doing so will further the cause of peace. That may be a tough sell right now because the Democrats in Congress seem to be pretending to try to stop the war while allowing the war to continue. For someone whose sole focus is stopping the war the Democrats in Congress really are no different than the Republicans.

You assume that they see the difference between you and them as a spiritual difference -- "consider themselves too spiritually evolved..", "spiritual snobs". I would guess that they see the difference as one of values and/or political tactics. I would guess that they see you either as someone who does not value peace as highly as they do (i.e. that you value electing Democrats more than you value peace) or as someone who is too easily taken in by politicians who will tell you what you want to hear when they in Montana and then carry water for people making money off of the war when they are in Washington.

Richard Turner said...

Dave, Thanks for the explanation. Just something in my defense: I attend peace demonstrations because I'm for peace. I believe (naively?) that a Democratic president will end the war and possibly change the direction of American foreign policy so it doesn't commit us to further wars.

I don't attend peace demonstrations merely to recruit Democrats. Sorry I made it sound that way.

I'm not a pacifist, though. I think there are times when military action might be needed.

It should be a last resort, though.

Dave Barrett said...

richard turner,
I was not accusing you of anything, just offering guesses why the Quakers at peace demonstrations might be reacting the way they were.

The Quakers have been working for peace and attending peace demonstrations for a long time and they bring a collective memory of the last 400 years with them to those endeavors. They have learned over the years to be wary of forming alliances with people who are against a particular war for political reasons because it has often happened in the past that people who had been opposing the war for political reasons suddenly started supporting the war when the political situation changed. For example, in the 1930s there were mass demonstrations for peace and against joining the European war. The leftists suddenly abandoned that cause when Hitler attacked Russian and almost everyone else left the peace movement when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, leaving in the peace movement only the Quakers, Mennonites and the Church of the Breathern – those who were for peace for religious (spiritual) reasons.

Another example is the number of people who had opposed the War in Vietnam for political reasons who have become right-wingers and are now denouncing their former comrades. No Quaker who opposed the War in Vietnam that I have heard of now thinks that was a mistake.

Another reason Quakers are stand-offish at peace demonstrations with people who do not oppose all war and violence on principle is that non-pacifists at peace demonstrations might suddenly start fighting with police or breaking store windows, etc. Quakers want no part of being violent, even in the cause of stopping a war.

Richard Turner said...

Again, thanks for your clear explanation. I think I see why local Quakers don't want me talking to them about partisan politics.

My one consolation is, if they vote at all, it won't be for a Republican. Despite what they say, I suspect they believe there is SOME difference between the parties. Al Gore wouldn't have gotten us into this mess.

I admire the courage of Quakers. They were reviled by almost everyone during "popular" wars but stood by their principles. And I like their message of peace and calm in our everyday affairs.

I'm guilty of being for or against wars on a case by case basis. I might actually favor some kind of military intervention in Darfur, for example. Stopping the genocide might require it. But I'd favor it only after GENUINE diplomacy failed.

I'm opposed to colonialist wars like the one in Iraq, of course.

Finally (because I've already taken up too much of your blog space), I think Quakers should encourage not disparage those who meet them part-way by being against a particular war. It's not pacifism, but it's a step toward it and a lot better than the flag-waving blood-lust of the Republicans.