Full refund within 30 days if you're not completely satisfied.
the Friend INDEPENDENT QUAKER JOURNALISM SINCE 1843
CONTENTS VOL 169 NO 44 3 Thought for the Week: Our challenge Nigel Norie 4-5 News 6 That of God in everybody Alice Harlan 7 ‘There will be no funeral!’ Michael Yates
The Riots: After the Clean-Up 8-9 Respect and responsibility David Beale 10-11 Where do we go from here? Howard Grace
12-13 Experiment with Light: A spiritual practice Gerald Hewitson 14 Letters 16 q-eye: a wry look at the Quaker world 17 Friends & Meetings
Cover image: Community clean-up. Photo: claudeprecourt / flickr CC See pages 8-11.
Post-it notes on a boarded up shop front in Wood Green.
The Friend Subscriptions UK £76 per year by all payment types including annual direct debit;
monthly payment by direct debit £6.50; online only £48 per year.
For details of other rates, contact Penny Dunn on 020 7663 1178 or email@example.com
Advertising Advertisement manager:
Tel/fax: 01535 630230
Editor: Ian Kirk-Smith Articles, images, correspondence should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to the address below.
the Friend 173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ Tel: 020 7663 1010 Fax: 020 7663 1182 www.thefriend.org Editor: Ian Kirk-Smith email@example.com • Sub-editor: Trish Carn firstname.lastname@example.org • Production editor: Elinor Smallman production@ thefriend.org • News reporter: Symon Hill email@example.com • Arts editor: Rowena Loverance firstname.lastname@example.org • Environment editor: Laurie Michaelis email@example.com • Subscriptions officer: Penny Dunn firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 020 7663 1178 • Advertisement manager: George Penaluna, Ad department, 54a Main Street, Cononley, Keighley BD20 8LL Tel: 01535 630230 email@example.com • Clerk of the trustees: A David Olver • ISSN: 0016-1268 The Friend Publications Limited is a registered charity, number 211649 • Printed by Headley Bros Ltd, Queens Road, Ashford, Kent TN24 8HH
the Friend, 4 November 2011 Thought for the Week
Three months on and the quiet recovery from the trauma of a social nightmare continues. Mark Duggan’s numbed family still seek answers through their solicitors. Charred remains have been cleared away, rebuilding starts and those who lost their homes and possessions try to pick up the pieces and start all over again. An air of normality hangs uneasily in the air. There is no guarantee that those events will not be repeated, if the lessons have not been learnt.
If our fellow citizens are willing to riot, steal and burn homes, against all the laws and norms of our society, it is because they do not feel that they have a stake in our society – income inequality may be at the root of this feeling.
There is no such thing as a ‘rioter’; it is not a career label for young people who feel lost and abandoned, acting out their anger and crying out for some humane moral, political and spiritual support. Youth has judged our society and found it wanting – there is nowhere for them to speak and so we have been warned. We remain deaf at our peril. Do not murder our brothers like Mark Duggan. Stop crushing us with a lifetime’s debt for the sake of an education. Create jobs and stop your wars.
The young are facing tremendous pressure; their futures crumbling in the face of insane monetary greed that drives a morally and financially bankrupt capitalism, basking in the spoils of sickening war and the poverty of its citizens, who are also its customers. Such moral collapse is from the top, with a shallow leadership that is mortally afraid of peace and hellbent on increasing an already outrageous inequality. It is a disgrace and a crime against any form of decent, inclusive, humanity – and yet these are the role models for our young.
Human nature is at root a spiritual nature. This spirituality was shown to us by the response of Tariq Jahan after he learnt that his 20-year-old son, Haroon, had been killed defending Birmingham mosques from rioters. This act might have triggered deep anger and revenge, as there were already racial tensions in the area, but his forgiveness brought the violence to an end.
One lesson is clear – this particular batch of politicians, with twenty-one millionaires in the cabinet, are only partially to blame, as we are the ones who implicitly allow them to remain. That may not be our fault as, if democracy is to work, we have to have a choice of some sort and that choice is not really there at the moment, although it could be if we took our responsibilities seriously.
Advices & Queries point us in the right direction: ‘Respect the laws of the state but let your first loyalty be to God’s purposes.’ We express those purposes through our testimonies to equality, peace, integrity and simplicity – completely opposite aims to any current political party.
Advices & Queries also gives us an even more uncomfortable challenge: ‘Remember your responsibilities as a citizen for the conduct of local, national, and international affairs. Do not shrink from the time and effort your involvement may demand.’
I shrink from this challenge daily, but am willing to face up to it. I could not campaign for any of the current political parties, simply maintaining this stagnant status quo, but would be willing to invest time, vision and effort in a new political initiative that would match my appreciation of the validity of our Quaker testimonies. Now that is a big ask and could only work with a large team of like-minded individuals, all willing to start from scratch to share in the same enterprise. To live adventurously is not usually the easiest option and this would be one adventure that might easily last a life time.
To stop further riots, poverty and institutional murder, we have to change society and, to change society, we have to change the politics – not from the outside, but from the inside. A responsibility indeed.
Nigel is a member of Tottenham Meeting. He was appointed by Bernie Grant as a community development worker on Broadwater Farm in 1983.
He remains active in that community today.
the Friend, 4 November 2011