01 April 2010

From the Meetinghouse

I sporadically attend meetings of the Society of Friends, as I believe I've mentioned here a time or two.

The protocol at these events is that the Friends never address one another directly. A speaker will stand up, launch directly into whatever he/she wishes to say -- is impelled by the Inner Light to say -- and will then sit down. After that, there is customarily a pause (anyone else standing up and speaking immediately would seem too much like he/she was "answering" the previous speaker). Further, even after a decent interval has passed, references to what a previous speaker has said are, at most, elliptical.

This Sunday I witnessed the closest thing to an "argument" I've yet seen at such a gathering. One speaker said that he was concerned about "how we should deal with people who are angry, I might say almost hysterically angry ...." about the enactment of the new health care bill in the US. His implication was that they were clearly wrong but he was uncertain how to gently persuade them of their wrongheadedness.

After the necessary decent interval had passed, a woman rose to say that she was among those who are "angry and fearful about the deficit burden we are placing upon our children," and so forth.

The next person to stand up after that sang a song. I've never heard anybody sing at one of these meetings before. My impression was that she thought the exchange of views on partisan grounds made something extraordinary appropriate. The song was about the suffering of children which, all agree, is a bad thing.

For my own part, I am convinced the health care bill will do more harm than good in the end, but I am not especially exercised by it. There are many worse things our government could be doing, and in fact is doing. The health care system likely to result from this bill is akin to that of Singapore, from what I understand, and whatever its ill-effects may be there, they would seem contained.

No comments:

Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.