Ringing Spring’s Bell for Continued Quaker Resistance

When Friends pulled the rope on the bell atop Spring Friends Meeting, the ringing convened the Carolina Friends Emergency Consultation on March 25. And its session began with cheers & applause.

Pull the rope, ring the bell for victory over the AHCA, and to call for continued resistance.

That’s because there was a major success to celebrate: the abrupt, inglorious end of the so-called “American Health Care Act” the day before.

Not only that, practically all of the 50-plus Friends and friends of Friends present had been active in the tidal wave of citizen resistance to AHCA, in ways large and small, loud and quiet, public and private; they deserved that big round of applause.

Spring Friends Meeting NC. Photo by Scott Holmes.

After more than four months of distress, anxiety & even despair over the dangerous turns taken in American public life, this ovation marked the overdue return of an optimistic mood: Resistance can work!

Now to be sure, as was pointed out, fighting the repeal of health care for 24 million people had been like climbing a mountain, an uphill slog on a wilderness path. Finally at the summit, in the clear air after an arduous climb, the exhilaration at the accomplishment was well-earned, yet modulated by the vista it now opened — that of many more mountains waiting to be crested in turn.

Undaunted, we began preparing for the next trek by canvassing the group to identify concerns and issues whose weight they were under. The list was long!

Your self-effacing blogger, listening and making a list.

It spread across the front of the meetinghouse, and ranged from the Supreme Court to LGBTQ repression, erosion of public schooling, climate change, and lots more.

Indeed, one of the youngest present, Liam (lower right among the multi-generational team below), also had concerns to ring the bell about:

The session then heard from several resource people, representing a variety of groups and action perspectives, from the ACLU & NAACP & the National Black Justice Coalition,  AFSC’s immigration work,   

(Liam’s concerns: I suspect he had some help with the cursive.)

the ongoing peace witness of Quaker House near Fort Bragg,  and more.  The idea here was to begin to find openings, connections, and other like-minded Friends to join with.

Mandy Carter, in the red sweatshirt, brought long experience with work for LGBTQ rights and racial justice. And God brought perfect weather for talking about this outside.

The talk was lively and non-stop, even with breaks. The gathering moved almost seamlessly into broader issue discussion, with resource people as participants, to consider ways to keep moving and build cooperation and momentum.

 

Barrett Brown, left, President of the Alamance County NC chapter of the NAACP, describing local efforts and statewide aspirations.

The Consultation was not aimed at producing resolutions or a new organization, but to assist in encouraging and facilitating cooperation for continued resistance.  Encouragement also seemed in plentiful supply, and we closed with some music, from Scott Holmes, who doubles as an aggressive lawyer fighting mass incarceration  when he’s not writing songs. He’d written a new resistance song just for us.

Perhaps this model of locally-driven multi-issue and multi-group consultations would be of use to other Meetings. It is neither expensive nor complicated, and the organizing was done by a small cadre of volunteers, using social media as the main means of promotion.

And one of its most welcome outcomes, as these photos show, was a lift in spirits. We’ll all need more of those; there’s still much to ring the resistance bell about.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Ringing Spring’s Bell for Continued Quaker Resistance”

  1. Must Quakers all believe in the same thing on healthcare, Supreme Court nominees and the proper level of funding for the EPA? Is a person who tries to live by Quaker values but comes out with different political points of view welcome in Quaker meeting?

    1. Hi Signe, at Spring Meeting, which organized the CFEC, sentiment on these issues was apparently unanimous, and the plan took shape in a regular business process. But we know a bit about Quakers & diverse policy & political views. In the North Carolina YM-FUM to which Spring belongs, most of our views are in the minority. (Ditto for the state at large. For example, the counties where the bulk of the NCYM-FUM membership is located voted 3-1 against Obama twice & 3-1 for Trump, and the views these numbers express are general among their Quaker residents. Earlier, most of these Friends supported the Iraq War & Vietnam before that, plus segregation. Most meetings fly the American and what is called the “Christian” flag, inside adjoining the pulpit & often outside on a flagpole. (I’ve got pictures if you like.)
      So the Consultation was for Friends who share the views voiced at CFEC, yet we were intentional in avoiding any group minutes or pronouncements, as if we were trying to “speak for” anyone else. But in our cultural & political setting, we have been moved to speak & act against the broader current among NC Quakers more than once. Among the many hazards we may face now, uniformity of views among NC Quakers seems not to be imminent.

      1. Interesting how different each area of Friends is. I appreciated your letter to keep that in front of us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *