I am mindful that I spoke twice yesterday, so I am trying to allow others to speak today. There were several messages that I wanted to say something about, so I am putting what I would have said in this blog.
One question was what we could not unsee. People mentioned things they had seen on the news.
The news is a business that sells negative drama. The more riveting the drama is, the more money they make. If we allow ourselves to be whiplashed by the emotional content that we see on the screen, we become their followers.
The history of Quakers has been leadership. If our concerns are based on what we see on our screens, we become part of the faceless masses that are also watching the same screens. We cannot be leaders.
Quakers have been leaders, because they were moved by the Holy Spirit. They were leaders, because they were not moved by the concerns of everyone around them.
This is not to say that we should not be moved at all by what is on the news. However, when we focus on that, our few voices become inaudible in the general din.
One question had to do with things we were called to do . One thing that was mentioned was attracting young people:
If we want young people to participate in meeting, we have to be mindful of the sleep research about people between the ages of 18 and 35. Their natural melatonin cycles make them fall asleep after 11 PM. The world expects them to be up and about by six in the morning. They still need nine hours sleep. They are constantly sleep deprived. They have to sleep in the morning on weekends. We cannot schedule youth activities in the morning on weekends.
I had a reaction to the queries themselves:
The queries themselves are worded, or so it sounds to me, to invoke a sense of guilt. What am I not doing that I should be doing? That kind of self flagellation, it seems to me, pervades Friends’ ministry. That feeling that we are always somehow not enough, not doing enough, not being enough provokes depression and despair. It’s not a welcoming message. It’s not something that will encourage people to join us. We have to also look at what we might have to celebrate. What did we do right?
Another thing that was mentioned was polarization:
It seems to me that politics of late has been reducing issues to sound bytes -- which necessarily oversimplify everything -- and then polarizing people around sound bytes. Reducing issues to sound bytes is a form of dumbing down. I don't like it. I would like to see us have confidence that we haven't all been reduced to sound bytes.
I mentioned this blog to a friend outside of NYYM. He mentioned that something he finds fatiguing is many Friends' attachment to a sense of outrage. Yes! Centering in the spirit should be, imho, peaceful, not high drama. I am reminded of my exposure to a group called Emotions Anonymous. These are people who believe that they are addicted to their own cortisol and adrenaline. I hope Friends will be cognizant of the potential of self-intoxication from emotional drama. This also relates to my first point above -- allowing oneself to be emotionally manipulated by the news.
[NB I do sometimes continue to edit my blogs]
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