Message from EORG for Sunday meeting 8th May 2022

The Swarthmore Lecture 2021 was entitled Kinder Ground: Creating Space for Truth, by Thomas Penny. When he wrote this, we none of us knew what was going to happen in 2022. In Chapter 8 he says: kinder ground is what we need to create and nurture to help our search for the truth. Away from Message from EORG for Sunday meeting 8th May 2022

The Swarthmore Lecture 2021 was entitled Kinder Ground: Creating Space for Truth, by Thomas Penny. When he wrote this, we none of us knew what was going to happen in 2022. In Chapter 8 he says: kinder ground is what we need to create and nurture to help our search for the truth. Away from the storms of argument and the entrenched positions that prevent reasoned discussion, we can seek truth together.

Towards the end of Chapter 8, Thomas Penny’s words speak to our condition here and now.

Historically, Quakers have known what to do in wars. We don’t join the conflict; we try to build bridges, we heal, we help, we rebuild. I dislike the term ‘culture war’, but, if for a moment we accept that terminology, our role again is clear. We shouldn’t neglect the conflict, but we should be wary of becoming part of it. We need to help to cool tensions and, through peace, find truth. It’s surely what love and the quest for truth command of us…

It’s often said that much political argument generates more heat than light, and we need to be on the side of light.

The final paragraphs of the chapter include a different situation.

An incident in York in 2013, when a mosque in the city was threatened by a demonstration by the anti-Muslim English Defence League (EDL), shows the benefit of meeting hate with love and dogma with openness. After the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by Islamist extremists in Woolwich a week earlier, the far-right group encouraged its supporters to march on the mosque, and local Muslims met to discuss how to respond. They decided not to set up barricades or to fight back, but to meet the protesters with tea and biscuits and encourage them to share their concerns. In the Guardian the following week, Mohamed El-Gomati, an elder of the mosque, wrote:

When we listened, we realised the EDL may have thought that we supported    extremist behaviour and the Taliban. We pointed out that we condemned both in the strongest terms. Assumptions are dangerous, untested assumptions can be lethal. They were surprised and they understood. The day ended in a game of football. (El-Gomati, 2013)

Nancy, on behalf of EORG, (Bob Harwood, David Hitchin, Chris Lawson, Theresa Samms, Nancy Wall)