A Focus on the Present

This month’s lineup of articles has me quite excited for a variety of reasons. "The Faces of ‘Collateral Damage’" (p. 6), written by Charlie Clements, has been on our website since late February, a strong testimony to the circumstances Charlie found when he participated in a ten-day emergency mission to Iraq to evaluate the humanitarian crisis looming should the U.S. carry out its threat of war. His grasp of the situation is formidable, and his descriptions of the Iraqi people and circumstances are compelling. I urge you to read his assessment. I’m especially grateful that the flexibility of the Internet has made it possible for us to distribute this article ahead of its publication date, given the urgency of resisting our nation’s march to war.

Arden Buck, in "What Do We Do Now?" (p. 10), specifically addresses the question of how we positively deal with resisting the discouraging direction the U.S. has taken since the tragedy of 9/11/01. His many practical suggestions include, "The war/greed machine is too powerful to confront head-on, but grassroots efforts can make the road so muddy that the machine bogs down." This certainly seems to be the case with the massive peace demonstrations that have taken place worldwide since January. Again, I believe we can thank the Internet for the ability to share information quickly and to organize campaigns and demonstrations.

I’m particularly excited about the article written by young adult Friend Breeze Luetke-Stahlman about her peer, Friend Rainbow Pfaff (p.13). Senior editor Bob Dockhorn and I sat with young adult Friends at the Friends General Conference Gathering in Illinois and invited them to submit their writing to us for consideration for publication. Breeze has done that, and I’m delighted to announce that we will be publishing her series of profiles on young adult Friends. With this beautifully written first piece, Breeze begins to open for us the lives of a new generation of young Quaker activists.

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I believe you will agree that articles such as these mentioned above are wonderful—and not readily available through mainstream media sources. Insofar as they reflect our own "Quaker thought and life today," they are invaluable to us for both information and inspiration. In January 1999 when I returned to the Friends Journal after an 18-year absence, the price of subscriptions and advertising had just been raised by our Board of Trustees. In the four years since that time, we’ve increased the average number of pages per issue from 40-48 to 52 (and sometimes more, recently as many as 72!). This has given us the opportunity to bring you more articles, more news, more reports, and to involve a host of wonderful volunteers in the process of producing the magazine along with our paid staff (the full-time equivalent of 8.5 persons!). But we’ve also held our prices down to those we have charged since 1999. Today’s $29 subscription would cost $32.10 in 1999 dollars. But some of our larger fixed costs—printing and postage—have escalated much more rapidly than inflation. A recent review of comparable publications revealed that our price per page compares very favorably to such publications (because we publish more frequently than others, bringing more content to you). This year, the economic climate requires that, effective on July 1, we finally must raise our rates for both advertising and subscriptions. Annual subscriptions will go from $29 to $35, two-year subscriptions will go from $54 to $65, and single copies will go from $3 to $5. I believe you will agree that the Journal is worth that extra 50 cents each month. For those who wish to lock in 1999 pricing for another year or two, renewals at those lower rates will be in effect through June 30. Lower pricing will be available after June 30 by purchasing group subscriptions through your monthly meeting. I thank you, Friends, for your understanding of this necessary change.