From the IMYM co-clerks,
We are heartbroken by the recent murders, terror and injuries visited on men and women of color. We grieve when we see or hear of miscarriages of justice. What affects any of us, affects each of us. We cannot remain silent, or believe that words alone will create change; that is the path to complacency and complicity.
Together with those who have lost friends, loved ones, and acquaintances, we lift up these names and people:
George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Robert Fuller, Breona Taylor, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, missing and murdered indigenous women, immigrants, and too many others who have been victims of systemic racism.
We pray that our hearts will be broken open, helping us to take actions that will help change the face of the legal system, policing, and the way each of us treats every other.
Friend, deal plainly with yourselves, and let the eternal light search you, and try you, for the good of your souls; for this will deal plainly with you; it will rip you up, lay you open, and make all manifest that lodgeth in you; the secret subtlety of the enemy of your souls, this searcher and tryer will make manifest.
~~ Margaret Fell 1614-1702
As Friends, we often focus on silence…not as a means of abdicating responsibility, taking no action, but as a way to listen carefully to that still small voice. Often, we find that voice urges us to take action, and to create change where it is needed. There is no one right way to take action. We must each do what we can from where we are. Change making may take many shapes.
We ask, in preparation for our virtual annual sessions, that Friends take some time for serious reflection. Now is a time when we must come together to determine what actions each of us can take, individually, within our monthly meetings, as a yearly meeting, and as the larger Society of Friends. We also ask Friends to consider what actions we can take that are in keeping with the needs of communities of color, rather than simply speaking words or taking action to make us feel good. We are all weary and grief stricken these days. While our responses to the pandemic must be acknowledged and taken into account, it is our hope that is not used as an excuse to neglect the needs of those communities.
Quakers have historically spoken truth to power, and this is a time when that is absolutely necessary. However, it is not enough…mere words cannot take the place of cooperative action that is focused and ongoing, even after “all this dies down”.
We must remain grounded in our Quaker faith and worship, seeking to hear the still, small voice within, while acting in the world. We query ourselves: How do we embrace our change-making power, while remaining grounded in our faith? What action can we take, staying aware that our focus for action must be the stated needs and desires of those with whom we seek to build alliances?
We look forward to discussion of some of these questions in the coming week, and beyond, and finding new ways to take action to create the world that we seek.
Holding each of us in the Light,
Gale Toko-Ross Valerie Ireland
IMYM co-clerk IMYM co-clerk