Seeing and writing about AFSC’s work is often a very hopeful activity. I recently read a new Pendle Hill pamphlet by Pamela Haines, Waging Peace: Discipline and Practice, which is full of rich food for thought. The below quotation was one, among many, that struck me.
“I was stunned by the truth of a friend’s comment that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than a new economic system. And this is a lethal failure of imagination. The world needs people who can exercise their imagination muscles, weave new realities from the most insubstantial of threads, be able to say ‘this is real’ even when nobody else around can see it—and act on that reality. We need to practice stepping confidently, buoyed by hope, into the unknown.”
One great joy of my work is getting to see the new realities being woven by the American Friends Service Committee’s programs. Considering alternatives and working with people to make these realities tangible, is the work of AFSC. Yes, we grieve and work to disrupt dysfunction and structural problems that hurt people daily, too, but at its core, AFSC’s work is based on building new realities, and because of this there are so many hopeful stories among AFSC’s programs: another world is possible.
One way AFSC does this is to invite others to imagine together new ways of thinking about issues. AFSC’s If I Had a Trillion Dollars is a film festival that invites youth to consider the current federal budget priorities and how they would invest federal tax dollars to help their communities. The finalists are invited to present their films at a festival in Washington, D.C., and lobby Congress about the priorities they have identified. The finalists have been identified and students are preparing for their trip to Washington in April.
This is just one example of the way AFSC brings people together to consider and create new possibilities and realities. From supporting the development of the Wabanaki-Maine Truth and Reconciliation commission to working with undocumented youth to tell their stories to training farmers in New Mexico to foster economic justice, AFSC is working daily to transform hardship into hope, fear into courage, and problems into solutions. It’s essential and very hopeful work.
Join us in this creative work by participating in the meeting/church liaison program or in other ways.
Recent posts at Acting in Faith
67 Sueños works with immigrant youth in the San Francisco Bay Area:
“The stories of these undocumented youth get covered up, made invisible, erased every day. This mural will be hidden, but 67 Sueños will paint another one this coming summer. They will continue to tell their stories, to build the movement that makes way for comprehensive immigration reform. They are undocumented and unafraid, and they will keep standing up for themselves and their families until all of us hear them, see them, recognize and honor them.”
The first ever Truth and Reconciliation Commission between a sovereign tribal nation and a US state was seated on Feb. 12, this interviews explains how it came to be. “The hurts are so deep. Once everyone can tell their story, the healing will come for them; the community will heal, too. We need to understand how what happened impacts how we treat each other, and how we need to heal in order for things to change. There is power in having a voice.” You can also read a poem I wrote for the occasion.
Madeline Schaefer, Friends relations fellow, is producing a series of podcasts on AFSC’s work, "Calling forth the goodness,” which features the voices of communities and Quakers that work together to create change. The first one, “Working at the Root” is about AFSC’s farmer-to-farmer training program in New Mexico. The second episode, “The Seeds of an Occupation,” tells the story of AFSC's growing involvement in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Johan Maurer wrote a moving guest post that tells a bit of his spiritual journey, “Love your enemies: Learning to trust in the face of violence.” Doug Bennett wrote about the value of the AFSC Corporation, which gathers this week beginning on Friday for a two-day meeting.
In January Ralph Medley, Web director, and Lucy Duncan, Friends liaison, hosted a webinar on how to learn about AFSC’s programs by navigating AFSC’s website. You can watch that here.
Given the current conversations about the federal budget, there is an opening to raise voices asking that the percentage of dollars going to the military be reduced. AFSC has produced a toolkit for download to help Friends and others advocate for a shift in priorities. You can also order a 20-foot banner for your meeting house or for protests which shows the current budget priorities. The banners are $200; email email@example.com to order one.
AFSC is seeking candidates for the Deputy General Secretary and other positions. Take a look at the current job openings and let other Friends know.
Activism in the Meetinghouse
Quaker youth in Florida are working for the rights of immigrant workers. Read their letter inviting other Quakers and members of historic peace churches to get involved, too.