Sitting Shiva, Jehovah’s Witnesses wearing safety pins

Sitting Shiva
Since the wee hours of last Wednesday morning I have wondered how long I would leave the Clinton/Kaine sign up in my yard. Over the weekend, my cousin in California, parked in their driveway within sight of their Clinton/Kaine sign, had a car window smashed. Someone with a Trump/Pence sticker on their car leaned on their horn and sped past me last Thursday afternoon outside Atlanta. Violence and rudeness (never mind safety on an interstate road with cars driving at 65+ mph) don’t win any points for Trump/Pence supporters.

With the announcement that Steve Bannon, a candidate for the Mr Anti-Semitic Lifetime Achievement Award, to serve as Trump’s chief strategist, I decided to Sit Shiva with my yard sign, as many Jewish people do following a death (although, to be clear, last week’s election outcome was not a death sentence for diversity and greater equality, but instead a wake-up call). The sign will be put away tomorrow, a full seven days after the election, even though Clinton/Kaine did receive more votes.

Jehovah Witnesses wearing safety pins
This morning I heard someone knock on our front door, and since we are “come to the back door” folks, I knew a stranger must be knocking. I stepped outside to keep the dogs from making a racket, and was greeted by two black women, one maybe in her mid-late 50s and another in her 60s. They were holding Bibles and Jehovah Witness’s pamphlets, dressed in skirts and shoes intended for walking most of the day.

Before I could say anything I realized this was a chance to practice some patience and tolerance, which is in short supply in our country. We all said hello, and then I asked them as politely as possible, to not come back, and that I have asked others who came before them to strike us from their list. They said they were new here, our house wasn’t marked to be skipped, they repeated the house number, said they would take care of it.

The older of the two women had a safety pin on her scarf, and I said, “I see your safety pin, and I forgot to put mine on. We’re Quakers here, and you are always welcome if you need to find a bathroom or want a glass of water, but we’re fine.”

The younger woman said, “We all want peace.” They made note again of the house number, we all smiled, and I came back inside feeling a little better about where we can be if we are willing to try. It isn’t about wearing a safety pin; it is about being ready to do my part.

Bid Day

The Friday Photo
August 15, 2014

Bid Day, Georgia College
Yesterday I had to meet someone at Georgia College in nearby Milledgeville. I snagged a great parking spot facing the campus quad shaded by tall trees and surrounded by beautiful buildings.

I happened upon sorority Bid Day announcements, a ritual that is taking place across college campuses now.

I’d never seen a Bid Day because my alma mater, Guilford College, doesn’t have Greek organizations.

A throng of young women stood together while shrieks and cheers erupted among them. They were standing in groups with matching t-shirts and tank tops while the newest members pulled their new shirt over what they had worn to the quad. Women around them hugged and smiled.

They were a homogenized group-slender attractive young white women, most with long hair, standing on suntanned legs below short shorts. They looked excited in their uniform colored groups.

I wondered about the young women who didn’t get their first choice,  who couldn’t participate because of the cost (it is easily thousands with dues, clothes for social events, etc), who thought they were too heavy, not pretty enough, too dark skinned, had no legacy to claim as leverage, or who didn’t make it to Bid Day at all.

A social worker told me she once worked shifts for the suicide/crisis phone line in Athens during Bid Week at UGA.  The phones rang off the hook with young women who were falling apart due to the outcomes of rushing a sorority. What a hard way to begin a college career.

I hope leaving the quad with a much coveted t–shirt won’t keep those young woman from really stretching themselves well beyond the confines of their sorority house and Greek life.

When you are among Friends

If someone says, “I went to UGA” or any large college or university, most people can readily identify something about that school (football, agriculture, technology, etc). When someone asks an alum of a Quaker school where they went to school, sometimes the person asking the question looks kind of lost if they follow-up and ask what type of school that is and the answer is a simple, “Quaker”. (I have on a few occasions extolled about one benefit of being an alum of a Quaker school is the lifetime supply of free oatmeal. I should not prey on the innocent.)

Quakers are not Shakers (but they can and do shake things up sometimes), or Mennonites, or Amish. Quakers are Quakers just like Methodists are Methodists. They come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and varieties. Flaming Liberals-yep. Middle of the Road-got plenty of those. Conservative- there are some of those too.

If you are wondering who Quakers are and what they do, The Huffington Post ran an article in June, “4 Things We Can All Learn from One of America’s Oldest Religious Communities” which does a good job of explaining some of the ways Quakers work together as a faith community (and as a result in their communities beyond their church).

There is a new family living in Ragsdale House, where the President lives at my Quaker college alma mater, Guilford College. The search to hire our ninth president was unusually transparent when compared to how many schools hire their administrative leaders. When the College announced that Jane K Fernandes had accepted the offer to join the Guilford community, there was a huge outpouring of genuine and heartfelt excitement. Jane said she truly felt called to Guilford, and her passion for the values of Quakers, a Quaker-based education, and Guilford are palpable.

Why am I calling Guilford’s Ninth President “Jane” instead of “Dr Fernandes” or “President Fernandes?” Rule 5 of  22 things only someone who went to a Quaker school would understand, written by a Guilford alum, explains it (slight NSFW language).

Rule 1 about bumper stickers? So true, as a Friday Photo from Rural and Progressive a few years ago demonstrates:

Guilford Alum, Class of 1961, leaves no doubt about her politics
Guilford Alum, Class of 1961, leaves no doubt about her politics

 

 

 

 

 

Faculty follows student leaders, reaches consensus driven by core values

A proposed amendment to the North Carolina (my home state)  state constitution defining marriage as being between a man and a woman will be decided on May 8. This amendment has made strange bedfellows of traditionally liberal and conservative camps who oppose Amendment One.

While I am not surprised that members of the Guilford College faculty are opposed to this amendment, they have taken an unprecedented action. Founded in 1837 as New Garden Board School, the faculty at Guilford has never taken action as a body in response to an issue. Guided by the Quaker (Society of Friends) values of equality and inclusiveness, decision making is reached by consensus. Reaching consensus requires thoughtfulness and respect for all concerns and ideas. The faculty at Guilford is diverse, and includes members of many faiths, as well as those who do choose a faith.

Archdale Hall, faculty offices, April 2012

Lisa McLeod, an associate professor of philosophy, said this about reaching consensus on a resolution, “The Guilford faculty coming to consensus to oppose this amendment should really say something to North Carolinians. We don’t always speak with one voice, and we almost never speak as a body about ‘political’ issues. We were able to make this statement because the amendment represents a backward step in the protection of human rights. The idea that such a regressive move could be enshrined in the state constitution is just intolerable.” (emphasis added)

The Community Senate, the body which represents traditional students on campus, also reached consensus in opposition to the amendment in February.

I hope Amendment One is soundly defeated next week. We are long overdue as a country on so many issues which impact our future. It is high time that we stop worrying about consenting adults who want to get married. Period.