April 22, 2001

Conscience


Slept late (this makes about 3 weekends in a row!) and thus didnít have to regret all the red wine yesterday. 6AM, if youíre wondering. Rowing does horrid things to the circadian. Next week, I will be able to sleep until 7, come back, wake at 4 to coach on Saturday, and never have to deal with the discomfort of switching time zones.

Synchronicity is a strong factor in my life. The Hofstadter book is a slow enough read that Iím considering taking it for the plane, despite its weight. So in order to keep from reading too much of it before I leave, Iíd switched over to a reread of The Quaker Book of Wisdom, by Robert Lawrence Smith. I like it because itís wise and encouraging but not sloppy and not sentimental, possibly because it comes from an actual tradition of belief rather than a vague feeling that we should all just get along. Also, Quaker beliefs have a strong element of pragmatism, and this book is from a man who has spent a long lifetime working out his beliefs in practice.

Most of the beliefs of the Society of Friends have a strong appeal for me: Truth, Simplicity, Service (I donít do well with that one in practice), Education. The only one I have some problems with is Nonviolence -- I think that some forms of oppression are worse than, and thereby justify, fighting. In this case, though, the central doctrine of the Quakers, about Conscience, following oneís own inner light, comes into play. Smith himself chose to be drafted in World War II, rather than register as a CO, because he decided that the moral issues of that war were so clear that it was the best chance heíd ever have to fight directly against "the ocean of darkness and death". (More than half of draft-eligible young Quaker men made the same choice in that war.)

The synchonicity comes into play in reading Marnís journal entry today, of her involvement in the protest against the Free Trade Summit in Quebec. Iím glad to hear sheís ok, but also enormously impressed that she lived up to the promptings of her conscience, and put herself in danger to act on it. I wonder how many of the leaders involved would have done the same? I wonder if I would?

Posted by dichroic at April 22, 2001 09:31 AM
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