Excellent post by our Recording Clerk Paul Parker on why he’s tired of just talking and not talking about Brexit. He reminds of the value of listening, and of Quakers’ pledge to be “a people that follow after those things that make for peace, love and unity’.
He suggests “Five things we could do”:
1. We could look to our own dividedness, finding ways to hear one another, clear the air, find common cause and begin work. We could learn to disagree well, to listen and to learn from one another. We could look at what we ourselves have done to foster this situation and its challenges. We could support each other at a time of turbulence, uncertainty and even fear. We could look after each other and ourselves, keep hoping, worshipping and praying together. We could look to our guide and heed the promptings of love and truth in our hearts.
2. We could use our own well-tested processes to work on this and reach clearness. We have Quaker structures and processes which could support us, by helping us to test our concerns more widely. We could send minutes to our area meetings and to Meeting for Sufferings, and pass things to our committees for them to bring their Quaker discernment to bear. We could recognise that we, ourselves, will not have all the answers.
3. We could look to our wider communities, using our processes and our experience in responding to conflict to help unite, be allies to those whose voices are not part of the debate, reach beyond our own comfort zone. We could recognise that even when things go in directions we didn’t want them to we have a role to play in creating what comes next. We are experienced in bringing people together; we have places and spaces we can invite people in to; at our best, we know how to be inclusive and to create communities where all are valued for the insights we bring; we have creative facilitators, experienced mediators and wise counsellors. Are we using these skills, places, and people?
4. We could look to our witness and work. We already work on peace, seeking to find ways to bring people together in non-violent ways. We know how to build a movement for change. We work on economic justice and equality, seeking to address the root causes of the dissatisfaction many in our society experience. We work on sustainability, advocating for policy and behavioural changes and supporting living in such a way that one day soon we may live within the resources of our planet.
5. We could look to our institutions. We have a voice which can be heard by government, by the international institutions in Brussels and at the UN, and in the public square. When we have something clear to say, we know how to say it well. With other churches, faith groups and civil society organisations we can prepare for the debate which is going to come; this is not going to end on 29 March. We can help to hold decision-makers accountable, and to uphold them in their work. They may not be as free or as confident as they appear.
Whole post well worth a read.
Quaker Toolkit for action: difficult conversations
Some Quaker tips on dialogue to heal divisions.