The Friends Committee on National Legislation (@FCNL) and the American Friends Service Committee (@afsc_org) partnered in live tweeting responses to the State of the Union Address on January 28th, offering a distinctly Quaker perspective on the issues President Obama raised joined by other Quaker voices who also tweeted during the speech.
At the beginning of January, I co-led a workshop with AFSC intern Tory Smith at the Philadelphia Young Adult Friends Gathering at Swarthmore College, with the title "The light after 9/11: Quaker faith and the War on Terror."
After we gathered and settled into worship, Tory and I encouraged participants to share their experience of "9/11"—the story of where they were when the planes struck the twin towers.
It was a moment when everything changed in America—our public policy, our national conversation, our identity as a nation.
On the plane to Seattle to attend one of AFSC’s Tyree Scott Freedom Schools, I was seated across from a young white man who looked roughly my age. Toward the end of our flight, we struck up a conversation. He was from Oklahoma, he told me, the youngest of five. He was only the youngest by a very small margin, as he was one of triplets. I had never met a triplet before, I told him. He had never met a Quaker.
Before the end of the year I posted this question on Facebook and I received an amazing string of answers. To me such an exercise is powerfully expressive of Quaker faith, which is not doctrinal but expressed in the individual experiences of those who practice. I think these answers together create a lovely poem expressive of the multitude of ways that Quakers understand and experience Quaker faith.
I used to often struggle with the proper relationship between peace and justice. More specifically, I wrestled with whether or not it is ethical to ask folks who are living in deplorable, violently oppressive conditions to vie for peace when there is such a glaring absence of justice in their daily lives. In many ways, the answer to this question continues to shape my understanding of the question of peace in the modern world.
Studying English in college, one of the things I loved most about literature of all kinds was how it connected me so deeply to the humanity of people living in other centuries and other countries. Now I love reading old publications down in the American Friends Service Committee's (ASFC) archives for the same reasons—to marvel at how language has changed while our core beliefs have remained the same.
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” Nelson Mandela
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more
Where we work
AFSC has offices around the world. To see a complete list see the Where We Work page.