Requiring Solution Together

For many years I had the privilege of working alongside Bob Dockhorn, who was Friends Journal’s senior editor from 2001 to 2011. Longtime readers have enjoyed many excellent issues that passed under Bob’s red pen. I fondly recall staff meetings when Bob would find the occasion to share stories from his long and varied career, which included such stops as a peace and social concerns staffer for a Quaker yearly meeting, a Holocaust historian and educator, and a graduate researcher in the East German archives.

When Bob retired from Friends Journal, he looked forward to spending more time on his memoirs—as a historian he saw how they might be valuable and interesting resources to future generations—and in 2017, he resumed sending around a newsletter of his musings to friends and requesters: “Openings.” What appears in this issue as “Eleven Steps toward an Enduring World” appeared in “Openings” in several installments in 2017, and we are pleased to share it with a larger audience. When I read it, in pieces, I was reminded of historian and author Timothy Snyder’s work in crystallizing, from history’s painful and at times quite bloody lessons of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, advices for those of us who seek to survive, resist evil, and help to change the world for the better.

In a turn of phrase that has stayed with me, Bob recalls Martin Luther King Jr.’s insight about humanity’s central challenges—racial injustice, poverty, and war: “requiring solution together.” These words acknowledge the interconnectedness of our most complex problems. The “together” speaks to me not only of the problems but of the solvers: of the degree to which we must act in concert with others. But what I like most is the “requiring.” The world’s evils are not out there standing still, waiting for us to do something in the future about them; they are acting now, and our action must be more than equal to the task. That’s what’s requiring.

We have examples, big and small, in this edition of Friends Journal, of Quakers moved to act, willing to move into uncomfortability or to re-examine a previously held belief. From Kat Griffith’s jaw-dropping first line in “Surprised by Joy” to Cameron McWhirter’s quest for George Fox’s monument and arrival at words from a sealed letter Fox wrote, “Not to be opened until the time,” I hope you’ll enjoy the sense of reflection and admiration I found in reading these pieces, too. May action stir in us all.

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