Barriers To Overcome


Another thing that’s for sure is that the more resistance we put up the longer it will take and the more difficult it will be.


One common objection to a new programme is that it will cost too much, there is no budget for it and so on. Typically people look for a payback, a benefit or even a profit.

In the first instance, individual Friends and local meetings will be making their own efforts and doing their own thinking, I would expect the money cost to be small to non-existent. Later as the new orientation and efforts take hold I would expect them to become self-financing and eventually profitable. The financial payback from investing in training, conferences and so on is indirect as always.

The ethical community, like any other community, must be sustainable and self-financing, At this time it is not clear to me how this will be achieved - perhaps though selling publications, courses or consultancy.


Contemporary Friends dislike the word management and all that it involves and stands for. For our future community to be viable we have to change that. The new ethical spirit-led Quaker community needs leadership and management (that is organisation, deployment of resources, feedback and leaning from experience, management of risks, caring for people and so on) at every level and in every enterprise. I think this will mean an internal culture change. It will take a long time because a large number of people will need to make small changes of orientation – neither easy nor quick.


What I am suggesting is not dramatic or glamorous.
It does not focus on whatever you see as the one big urgent problem that will save the world. Its not Band Aid for Ethiopia, wells for India, or justice for crime victims or Ban the Bomb. Its not Formula 1 racing or the Olympics. Its not the latest Pop group or Tracy Emmin’s newest shocking work. It is not a new iPod gizmo or a new technology to change the world overnight.

If you are looking for that sort of roller-coaster high, this programme is not for you.

Over the years I have noticed that most people seem to want absolutes, certainties, simple ideas and simple actions. They want instant reactions, comfort and convenience. If you are looking for any or all these, this is not the programme for you.


It seems clear to me that if most of us work at crafting our relationships better the world will be changed.

However you might not agree. Even if the world is changed it might not be changed in the necessary way or fast enough and so on.

All I can say is, have faith and try it. I make no guarantee that the RSoF has a future or that the RSoF will adopt this programme or that the program will save it.


There are two issues here. I have tried to ground my ideas in easily available mainstream published work. However the essence of science and Quakerism is validation by others. So its for those of you with deeper, more specialist understanding and more recent knowledge to examine and revise what I have done.

I have not appealed to established authorities, demonstrated my command of the technical jargon and generally been a good scholar. For many people these are grounds for rejecting the whole essay.


We take our social and interactive skills for granted. We take them as a given. Its only when other people don’t behave as we expect or want, that they are blamed for poor skill, thoughtlessness, rudeness and so on. Many people will find their skill and knowledge adequate for their needs and see no reason to change.
• Personal action takes effort - they can't be bothered
• Everybody behaves badly - following the prevailing culture and conforming to fashion without thinking.

We can all walk, but that does not mean there is no need for athletes, for medicine, for bicycles and aeroplanes or dancing. We can all talk, that does not mean there is no need for literature, for education, for writing, for television or for singing.

Doing something and changing the world is scary and takes effort and takes us out of our comfort zone.


At BYM 2009 Jenifer Barraclough introduced us to a game that caught my imagination: the Yes game. The game is in two parts and it’s a game for two people. In the first part, A makes a suggestion and then B responds with “Yes but …”. In the second part, A makes the same suggestion but this time B responds with “Yes and …”. Jenifer invited us to compae the results of the two parts of the game.

I invite you to play the game with me. I have made a suggestion about the future of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain. As B you might reply:

7.1 “Yes, but …”

“… science has nothing to do with Quakerism”,
“… craftsmanship does not apply to spiritual matters”,
“… my social skills are very good, I don’t need this stuff.”,
“… you can’t teach practical skills or craftsmanship.”,
“… we are already doing all this, our team is very successful.”,
“… this idea is not very exciting, dramatic or inspiring.”,
“… it will all take too long, cost too much and take too much work.”,
“… it doesn’t deal with the real issues of today’s society,” whatever they happen to be today.

I have tried to address at least some of these responses. If you unite with one or more of them I feel the future I have outlined is not for you.

7.2 “Yes, and …”

“… it is within the reach of everyone to improve and make their world better.”
“… it uses reliable knowledge from science and practical experience shared from other fields.”
“… it revives our roots and branches.”
“… we don’t need to change our structures.”
“… it celebrates our traditions and history.”
“… it enhances and builds on the work we are doing in every area.”
“… it will deepen the life of our meetings.”
“… through craftsmanship we have a way to work with our relationships and realise the practical meaning of loving God and our neighbour, Penn’s ‘true godliness’ and answering that of God.”

If these or others that you can think of excite your imagination, then we may have a future together. Remember it only takes twelve, convinced and dedicated people to change the world.

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