The Web of Concern

One of the wonders I experience as senior editor for FRIENDS JOURNAL is watching as articles, most of which are unsolicited, flow into a pattern in each issue. The forces that bring forth submissions are mysterious and seemingly random; but each time, with only minor shepherding by us editors, they arrive and assume their places. Over time there are chains of articles and letters on particular themes, each one birthing the next. An article on, for instance, marriage, by a concerned individual, conjures up a sequel from a different pen, and that one stimulates—or provokes—yet another. And so it is with other themes. Each article sheds light from a new direction on a consequential subject. This creative process in which inspiration is passed from mind to mind, from soul to soul, is prolific; and as such it mimics life itself.

The article by Gracia Fay Ellwood, "Are Animals Our Neighbors?" (p. 6), is on a theme that has been around Friends for a good while, under the general rubric of animal rights. I encourage you not to skip over it. Many of us know that there is something terribly wrong with the way humans treat our fellow animals, but we look away. This is an issue of biblical proportion—and human thought, rationalization, and obfuscation about it goes right back to the Book of Genesis. What would the result be if we faced up to our dark side? The consequences would be overwhelming, from the economics of food production to the depths of human spiritual transformation. Might this article start a new series of responses for FRIENDS JOURNAL?

Scott Stedjan’s "Building the Grassroots Movement to Ban Landmines" (p. 17) is on a tragic subject that just won’t go away. Isn’t it already obvious to everyone that these weapons shouldn’t exist? Don’t we have a Mine Ban Treaty already? Thankfully, there are those writers among us who refuse to overlook the dark corners in our public awareness where such unattended anomalies as the absence of U.S. ratification of the treaty lurk, and who are willing to expose them. Landmines seem a lesser concern compared to nuclear weapons, but they are so numerous and injurious. Working against any of these brutal weapons systems ultimately leads to exposing the folly of them all.

And so I could go on. Looking at the table of contents of any issue of FRIENDS JOURNAL is like examining a slice under a microscope of a long continuum of inspiration for our readers and authors. Concerns emerge, vanish, evolve, and reappear. It would be too overwhelming if we had to see them all at once, and respond to all the sore points of our existence simultaneously. Each comes into focus; and as it does, we respond—and in the process we build our understanding that all our concerns are connected. What looks like an impossible maze is, on closer examination, not so complicated. We simply need to stay tender, open ourselves up to the moment, be ready to grow, and all the while hold on to the oneness of it all. Reminder: