Saturday, June 6, 2009

Are we still a dangerous people?

RantWoman has done no reading on this theme and is very unlikely to attend the upcoming workshop by this title at MUltonomah Monthly Meeting . RantWoman certainly finds the concept of dangerousness as a marker of vibrant faith intriguing but RantWoman goes into the conversation with the sort of pointed question: is being dangerous even necessary. In other terms, do we need to go out of our way to be dangerous or do we achieve that simply by living as who we are?

RantWoman is reflecting on two threads of possible answer. In the first case, yes, Friends are dangerous. RantWoman does not think she ever met so many people so frank about their occasional and even frequent desire to and in some cases capacity to inflict grievous harm on others before she started to hang out regularly among Quakers. It's not like every third Quaker is a barely-contained axe-murderer waiting to pounce, but the number willing to admit such desires however fleeting is to RantWoman's discrete sensibilities quite notable.

Perhaps for balance, there are also plenty of Quakers who not only cannot acknowledge any violent inclinations, they can barely stomach anything that might smack of CONFLICT. Quakers are not necessarily alone in this tendency, and all that peace testimony stuff could be predicted to make things worse. In RantWoman's experience, though, this sort of stifling actually can increase the risk that such energy will be explosively dissipated, perhaps in ways the dissipator did not intend or that fall short of aiming at that of God in another or other Quakerly formulations.

RantWoman mentions the question of dangerousness first of all because of a message last week in Meeting from an individual being quite frank about his self-assessment of his capacity for violence and not only frank but frank in a way that would be striking in a work of literature let alone in thecontext of Meeting for Worship. Mind you, RantWoman is a Quaker, but she actually does not necessarily mind strong language, avowedly liturgical music, slam poetry, and even dogged devotion to Bible verses in the context of Meeting for Worship. Unfortunately, RantWoman worships with some people who do mind and who make clear in no uncertain terms that they mind . These poor benighted souls even mind when RantWoman mentions that sometimes the process of suffering, of minding, of working with what comes to mind might in fact be gateways to new transformations, new openings. And RantWoman will not even go near a massive sense of awkwardness around speaking up of conflict.

RantWoman supposes she should enumerate some specific instances of the problems she writes about. Perhaps having set up a theme, RantWoman will be led to identify some circumstances when one or another conflict seems in need of Quakerly resolution.

Among other Friends RantWoman worships with are great constants of sensibility and seasoned capacity to present problems in human terms and to embody faith in how they help work through them. RantWoman also worships among some Friends who, love them as RantWoman does, seem in some respects to like their reality fine the way it is thank you very much.

So yeah, in the spirit of finding things out as one writes, RantWoman has now stumbled across several categories of dangerousness, capacity for physical harm, poorly executed conflict resolution and tiresome complacency. That would probably be enough dangerousness for one morning, but RantWoman's thoughts now turn to another thread from last week's Meeting for Worship: a member of our Meeting was last week to facilitate a meeting between the commander of our friendly comparatively nearby nuclear submarine base and the main organization that organizes regular protests, please-arrest-me choreography, and other ministry designed to cause the public continually to reflect on our own country's first strike weapons, the threat of nuclear war, and other such topics.

(Between when RantWoman started this and when it got posted, the meeting with the admiral occurred. The review was that it went well: the admiral was courteous; others were courteous. There was a perception of human connection. RantWoman would point out that people tend not to get get appointed admiral without some basic grasp of human interactions.)

RantWoman wishes to note though that protestations of non-violence and radical equality might indeed look very dangerous to people whose lives depend on wielding, responsibly one hopes, of the most powerful weaponry in the world. Radical equality most certainly is a challenge to people whose lives depend on hierarchy just as the Quakers of yore seemed dangerous to the social order of the day.

Finally, apropos of certain up-and-coming middle easter countries and certain pathetic north Asian dictatorships and their desire for radical equality in the form of their own nuclear arsenals, RantWoman must confess to understanding the desire. RantWoman generally favors a lot fewer rather than more nuclear weapons all the way around, and RantWoman supposes that also adds up to several dangerous ideas even if RantWoman finds herself still seeking Divine light about how to get there.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I'm feeling akinner & akinner!

    Have you already read my blurt-of-a-few-years-ago at
    ? A bit long, but I hope you like it if you haven't.

    I too have found Authorities to be very nice people when they aren't shooting/blowing-one-up/attempting-intimidation. Probably it does them good to talk with people they can think of as naiver-than-them.