Our Generation’s “Lamb’s War”
DURING THE OBAMA administration, our nation changed many of the structures of our society. Health care was made available to all. We agreed to structures limiting the worst excesses of the financial “industry.” We created institutional changes which made discriminating against people of color, LGBTQ persons, and women more difficult. We committed to a framework of energy use hoping to avoid making the planet uninhabitable to humans, not to mention a wealth of other species. While we changed the structures, we did not really change the culture. In fact, shortly after Obama’s first election, forces on the Right quite intentionally worked towards a cultural shift in the opposite direction, actively denigrating empathy, and lifting up and celebrating selfishness as a cultural virtue, as expounded by Ayn Rand. This effort at shifting the culture gave birth to the Tea Party movement, and here we are today, with most of the structural shifts of the Obama years negated, and then some.
As I have held questions about how to respond to the divisiveness, the fearmongering, the racism, and the tsunami of lies and half-truths characterizing our nation’s political life at this time, I have been clearly and deeply called to go deep, and to join the many, many people of faith who are seeking to bring about the necessary shift in culture, a shift in spiritual consciousness, which is necessary if we are to survive as a species. And, like my Quaker forebears, I know that work to begin within myself.
Friends of the first 150 years or so understood themselves to be fighting what they called the “Lamb’s War.” They were playing the ultimate “long game” of seeking to bring the entire planet to the experience of the Inward Christ, the Seed, the Light, that all might be guided by that Life and Light which guided them. And, their first effort in that “long game” was indisputably to let that Light of Christ work upon their own souls and consciousness, showing them where they were out of alignment with that Light. They sought to be, and were, transformed, and then went on to lead transformed lives. The current battle against fearmongering, xenophobia, racism, sexism, the active and intentional undermining of truth, and the denial of the perilous juncture we have come to as a planet, is our generation of Friends’ Lamb’s War. That spiritual warfare has as its goal not simply an exchange of the players in the political landscape. It demands of us a change of heart inwardly, and a change of consciousness, a shift in culture, outwardly.
One of the ways I am being faithful to that call has been to participate in the Quaker Pathways Forward – Rekindling the Fire of Fox community of practice (I much prefer the original title “21st Century Quaker Revival,” for I see that is what is needed in Friends, and what the world needs from us.) In that program, led by Pamela Boyce Simms, Quakers across the continent have been working toward a shift in consciousness, in what energy we hold our body/mind/spirit moment to moment. We are using techniques from Pamela’s diverse toolbox, borrowing from neuroscience and contemplative traditions.
It has been transformative, and syncs well with my Quaker practice. My wife Barbara says she is living with a different person, and has signed up to be part of the second cohort of 30 or more.
In the early 1800s, enslaving another person was thought by the vast majority of Americans to be right and good. People from Africa were deemed not fully human, which made it conscionable to enslave them. Those who disagreed with this cultural norm were considered deviants. A change of consciousness was needed. In the early 1900s, women were considered too feeble minded to make intelligent political judgements without the guidance of their husbands. The idea of women voting seemed utterly absurd and against God and (literally) mankind. A change in consciousness was necessary.
In the early 2000s, the earth is still seen as a “resource” to be exploited and extracted from, and humans see themselves as outside of the rest of creation. The shift to where we know ourselves to be a part of the intricate web of creation, and its nurture and preservation our call from God, is the shift in consciousness before us. This is our Lamb’s War. We may not realize its fruition in our lifetimes, but the call is before us, loud and clear.
Christopher Sammond is a member of Poplar Ridge Monthly Meeting, New York Yearly Meeting.