First Day: Protests with Silence (Advice and Query #22)

In case you missed this FIRST DAY piece on NPR:

A Powerful Silence Follows UC Davis Spraying

A video of campus police using pepper spray on sitting protesters at UC Davis on Friday is screaming around the Internet. As stunning as the scene is, what happened later may be just as striking. A new video shows how demonstrators greeted the school’s chancellor as she walked to her car.

You can watch this at

#22 Advice and Query from the British Quakers as written in Geoffrey Durham’s The Spirit of the Quakers:

Respect the wide diversity among us in our lives and our relationships.  Refrain from making prejudicial judgements about the life journeys of others.  Do you foster the spirit of mutual understanding and forgiveness which our discipleship asks of us?  Remember that each of us is unique, precious, child of God.

From Smith and Bixby’s Quaker Terms we have a definition of “Silence.” Recognizing that Quakers can not claim to own this word as “Quaker,” the authors go on to say “. . .We have the special quiet of listeners, the perception of seekers, the special alertness of those who wait.  It is not merely the absence of noise, but expectant, living silence.

As I watched the chancellor being escorted through that silent and vigilant group of protestors, I wondered how loud her heart was beating first in fear and then in growing understanding of the “expectant, living silence” of those sitting cross-legged, saying nothing.  Of perhaps her attaining a sense of being held in the Light of the Truth, whatever her own Light would bring to her Truth.

Then I watched the previous You Tube video showing the actual pepper spraying by the police. I cringed.  I thought of the men and women who are charged with protecting us and then having to follow orders that are not in anyone’s best interest. What about their journeys that must be extremely difficult at times:  do I keep my job or do I renounce this action?  How can I justify to my own Light and Truth in my personal actions that inflict physical harm on the individual and a shredding of relationship within the community?

I am hopeful that the power of “EXPECTANT, LIVING SILENCE” will promote an increased working respect for the fears and losses of others while seeking equality and peaceful accord with all.

How do we each respond to this query when we look at our relationships with others and as we view the world around us?

Be gentle with the person who challenges your own beliefs–personal Truth is a slippery slope.

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