Tuesday, 27 May 2008

I might have gone to war, by Rose Mae Harkness of Ottawa MM

photo courtesy of news.yahoo.com
I might have gone to war
instead I campaigned to get girls
into our high school bugle band.

I might have gone to war
instead I won scholarships
in social and philosophical studies
at the University of Toronto.

I might have gone to war
to tackle gender equity in the basically male
military organizations of the time.
Instead I ventured into international development
where issues of gender equity are world wide.

I might have gone to war
instead I went on an all-day
silent retreat of Quakers in Kingston.

During worship at the FWCC Triennial
in New Hampshire in 2000, I said,
I have heard the leper crying at our door in India.
I have heard our gardener's HIV-infected baby crying in Zimbabwe.
Now I hear our planet crying with the burden humanity has placed upon it.

I might have gone to war
Instead I am trying to lessen the burden
I have placed upon our planetary home.

-- Rose Mae Harkness, at Regional Gathering 23 May 2008.
These images came as I remembered a handsome young man asking for directions. When I offered to help, he said he was looking for the Canadian army recruiting centre. I thought, how sad that so many young people's options are limited by the culture in which they grew up and the lack of economic resources. I then thought of choices in my own life, leading to my realization that the devastation of our planetary home is the major issue of our time... I have decided to "retrofit" my life. At a Friends' meeting in Powell House in upstate New York two months ago, after a deep worship sharing, I have understood that to stop flying in airplanes may be the easiest thing required of me.

See also: Boston Globe interview with WWII woman worker Frances Millebrandt, especially the last page and her video; Australia Yearly Meeting's 2008 minute on earthcare; at the regional gathering we decided to set up a Quaker wiki on "building a culture of peace", to which Friends worldwide are invited to contribute.

See also Orion June 2008 article on The Gospel of Consumption, and 4-part BBC documentary The Century of the Self about Freud, Bernays, and their influence on advertising industry/consumption/politics (BBC description, videos on Youtube)

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