Weekly Query and Cross-Posting

Friends, I’ve written an article on the state of young Quakers over at Western Friend, the West Coast-region magazine for the Religious Society. It would warm the editor’s heart if more traffic came through, so I’d encourage you to check it out.

Should you be arriving here because you read my article there, welcome! There’s a recap that I hope can serve as an introduction, a few posts down.

And it’s been a while, so here’s a Weekly Query.

“Do I not destroy my enemies if I make them my friends?” — Abraham Lincoln

How do we reach out to those who oppose us, fight us, hate us, and fear us? Can we make them and their ideas welcome in our lives?

What about those people who simply annoy or irritate us? Can we also make them welcome?

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2 thoughts on “Weekly Query and Cross-Posting

  1. It all comes down to love, doesn’t it? “Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that. Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.” That’s Martin Luther King jr, one of the heroes and models. It sure isn’t easy — but why should we expect it to be? In questions like this, what seems the hard road may likely be the right road.

    As to how do we make them and their ideas welcome in our lives? That’s deep listening — a gift that seems to be atrophying for lack of exercise in our culture today. If I don’t agree with you I can still listen to you, and if I can listen “between the words” maybe I can come to understand you better. If we can can transform even a square inch of the no-man’s-land between us into common ground to build on, we have taken a step toward the Beloved Community.

    From the sublime and sweeping (MLK) to the humble and specific, here’s something that I find helpful and might be pertinent for your 3rd question (it’s quoted in Paul Loeb, Soul of a Citizen): “I’d like to be able to love my enemies — but as an interim step, I’ve decided to try to act lovingly toward everyone I serve on a committee with.” Hey, we have to start somewhere. It’s a place to start.

  2. How do we reach out to those who oppose us, fight us, hate us, and fear us? Can we make them and their ideas welcome in our lives?

    – My answer to this is “sometimes”. And the sometimes people are those that are able and willing to agree to disagree. I have many people in my life that have fundamental differences and disagreements with me. However, they also accept that we do not have to agree with each other’s “ways”.

    Then, there are those people who insist “my way or the highway”. To me, they are unreachable. They have grasped a hold on something that mandates absolutes. No amount of communicating with them, or accepting them whole-cloth, will sway them.

    What about those people who simply annoy or irritate us? Can we also make them welcome?

    – This one is much easier. Annoyance and irritation is not enough to enforce distance, unlike most in the group above. Ideas, even annoying and irritating ones, should be welcome in a civil conversation.

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