This week's UPI column
This column needs a little introduction, perhaps a disclaimer, nay, a Claimer!
I fully support the position of the Friends Committee on National Legislation
on domestic spying. I am appalled by my government spying on its citizens.
I am equally appalled that so many non-Quakers think we make a good punch
line in a "how stupid is the government" joke.
(go ahead google "dangerous Quakers" - use the quotation marks).
I am also concerned that many Quakers do not see our testimonies for the threat that they are; a threat to governments and economies built upon greed and abuse. I think that Quakers make fine citizens, for lots of reasons, including the fact that some of us are willing to protest and some of us are willing to go to jail. I hope you enjoy this little rant. Feel free to use the comments to declare the threat that you are!
If everybody lived like you, what industry would fail? what government policy would tumble?
So There I was...
…feeling dangerous. I could have taken my great big motorcycle out for a fast run, but that didn’t feel dangerous enough. I was tired of my government, my society. I could have joined the large rally at the State capitol a few blocks from my house, “Si, Se Puede!” but they seemed to have things under control and did not need me. I whipped a few e-mails off to my congressional representatives about torture, and detainment without legal recourse and rendition, but it did not cool the fire in my belly. I needed to do something way outside the bell curve, something so radical that if everyone followed my lead, it would shake foundations, topple governments, create societal chaos – I was in that kind of mood. So this is what I did. First, I took a chunk of money that I was planning to use for a nice shopping excursion and sent it to a group in the third world. I thereby robbed the US economy of that money and I robbed the US government of the taxes on that money. Then, I went out and put into the hands of a young person a piece of paper that they could use to make sure that the US military could not aim its recruitment lies in their direction. Then to cap the day, I went to meeting for worship, and I, the preacher did not preach. I did not tell them what to think, I did not tell them what to believe. We sat silently and let God talk to the folks completely without theological middlemen.
You see, I am a dangerous Quaker. You have heard about us I am sure. Over at the New York Times they report that Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) was recently asking the FBI why they were spying on groups like the Quakers and the Raging Grannies. Apparently there were about a hundred anti-war groups that were spied on that could have been mentioned. I suspect that the Quakers and the Raging Grannies got named because they seemed so patently and ridiculously undangerous. With all due respect Mr. Senator, if you think that an enraged grandmother is not a dangerous thing, you have never seen one. And please, do not count the Quakers out yet.
In addition to the FBI, the Department of Defense and the NSA have been spying on us. Apparently they haven’t found anything worthy of detention or harassment, yet. I feel kind of sorry for these guys. They have fallen on hard times. Their info is all swiss-cheesy. So as an act of charity, I am going to make it a little easier on them. Tune in your web data miners to this station and stay tuned.
I cannot and DO NOT speak for all Quakers. But I can speak for me. I am about to give you some solid intelligence. So listen up!
The Top Ten Reasons why I am a dangerous Quaker and should be watched carefully.
By Peggy Senger Parsons
1- I believe that there is a seed of God and goodness in everyone. It may be small, starved, buried and stepped on, but it is there, and can be reached under the right circumstances. This includes Osama Bin Laden, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. The right circumstances for reaching that goodness do not include bombings and assassination attempts.
2 - I cannot in good conscience say the Pledge of Allegiance. My patriotism is expressed through informed voting and paying my taxes; but my allegiance is to a Kingdom not of this world. I pledge to no other. Even if I could pledge my allegiance to this country, I could not say THAT pledge because I attempt to only say true things and it includes the patent and obvious falsehood that we are “one nation under God.” This, I have not observed to be true.
3 - I cannot swear an oath in court, not on the Bible or any other book. That book contains the instruction to not swear oaths because it implies that you have two standards of truth. That book says to let your yes be yes and your no be no, and leave it at that.
4 - I believe that ALL war is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus. He said that we were to love our enemies, and I think that this meant at the very least that you should not kill them. Our present war is immoral, as has been every other war; and yes, I include World War II and the American Revolution in that list.
5 – I do not believe in the death penalty. We may indeed need to keep some citizens safely locked up for life. But I would not put any human to death as a consequence of crime. And that includes Timothy McVeigh, or Ted Bundy. It’s the “Love your enemies” thing again.
6 – I respect my fellow voters rights to disagree with me; to fund and support a military. But I think that military recruiting, like other sinful behavior, should be limited to consenting adults. It should be illegal to aim military recruiting at secondary school students.
7 – I do not believe in living beyond my means. This is also in the teachings of Jesus on the subject of simplicity. Our Household is presently living with no consumer debt beyond our house. I hope to keep it that way. I am not a very simple Quaker; many do much better than me in this spiritual discipline. But if everyone in the US shopped even as liberally as I do, the economy would crash, big and bad.
8 – I try to send as much of my money as possible outside of the US economy. I think we should be poorer and the third world should be richer. I do this by supporting organizations that reduce poverty. I do not pay much attention to whether or not the people helped, or their government, agree US foreign policy. The cool subversive benefit of this is that the government lets me forego taxes on this money, which means less money for the military and other projects of which I do not approve.
9 – I am not actually keen on national borders in general. I am not worried about illegal immigration from Mexico. Fine folks, by and large. Figure out how to tax them. I would gleefully support a national sales tax that paid for universal health care and schools. I think the national anthem sounded great in Spanish.
10 – I think that informed, non-violent, conscience driven dissent is extremely patriotic. I also think that it is sexy.
So there you go, guys. I know that you know my numbers. Feel free to check in regularly. The link at the bottom of the page is my Quaker church. You would be most welcome to spy on and worship with us any Sunday.
Peggy, you are priceless! Gee, I guess I'm doubly dangerous, one of your flock of subversive Quakers, and a Grannie!
Whoo-hoo. I've been a bit mystified that so many Friends have expressed outrage at the nnews that the government has committed limited surveillance of Quaker groups. I should hope our gospel continues to be radical enough to seriously challenge our government and the warmongering mock Christians who prop it up (Republican and Democratic administrations alike). I only wish we were MORE deserving of surveillance.
Thank you, Peggy, for putting all this into words. This speaks for you and for many of us. Bless your church and ministry: the Light that shines through you into the darkness.
Thanks for this articulate and profound message. I hope it travels far and wide among Friends and others. It inspires me to be more dangerous!
love, blessings, yay!
One of my favorite Pete Seeger albums is entitled, "Dangerous Songs."
I try to sing one of 'em every day.
Peggy, I have a question about your comment: "I do not pay much attention to whether or not the people helped, or their government,..." The second part to charitable giving is being a good steward of the money. That means that paying attention to how the money is spent, is also important. It is part of the total responsibility for having the money that God gave you in the first place. If you're sending your money out of the country just so it won't be spent on our military, it sounds like the basis of your motivation is revenge towards our government. The book of Proverbs says that vengence belongs to God alone. While you don't have to believe in our military, maybe you could send your money elsewhere with more positive motivations. Finally, do you think we, as Americans, have the right to defend our country, or our way of life, and therefore need a standing army to procure that defense if threatened?
Dear PeggyPost a Comment
Thank you for your post which puts everything well and strongly - I am not a Friend, but I am a Friend in spirit - and I wish to link your blog on mty page, hope that is ok.
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