Response Options



Depending on where you are coming from, I recognise you might have one of several natural responses to my analysis.


One natural reaction is to deny the validity and truth of what I have said: We have not lost our way, we are as vigorous and successful as we have ever been.

It is true that it is only my view and my interpretation. I can not know every Friend in Britain nor can I know everything that is going on everywhere. My observations may well be faulty or misguided. That is for you to judge.


Many, perhaps most, people prefer to see the good, the positive, the exciting and the uplifting. We all need uplift and encouragement and I support this view – until it blinds us to reality and blinds us to what is called for.

Another reasonable response is to say why bother, let the Society die – like the Shakers, who claimed to have branched off from Quakers in the eighteenth century but had died out by the end of the nineteenth century.

One can always hope that the world will change or that someone will do something and Quakers will come again into their own and be a force for good in the world.

One communications approach for the Quakers is to continue with its traditional 'passive' style of communication, based on the critical underlying assumption that people will 'find' heir way to the Quakers.
The counter view is that the negative messages and confusing 'noise' circulating around what the Quakers stand for is blocking people's path to finding the Quakers and that therefore more 'overt' communications about the Quaker message should now be considered.1


In many ways its logical and good management practice to understand the problems, pressures, management decisions and systemic failures that led to the present condition. Governments do it all the time.

I remember when I was responsible for maintaining an accounting suite that the maintenance programmer insisted on understanding how the program worked before attempting to make the change needed. I could see that there was a simpler quicker solution that did not need this detailed level of understanding. I suspect that the way out of our crisis is not to agonise over the past but to ‘cut to the chase’, ‘think out of the box’ and move forward.


I choose not to accept any of these options. But the alternative is daunting – to say the least.

The alternative is to take actions – but what and by whom? One might say that the problem is insoluble: the solution must be inclusive, involve everyone, be non-contentious, must not involve expenditure, must not rock any boats and be acceptable to everyone. It must be compatible with the existing framework of the Society, be inspiring and supportive, exciting but acceptable and doable without too much effort.

Quakers are very good at talking, and at talking about talking about doing something. Writing an essay is nice, chatty and requires no commitment or exposure to serious criticism. Is an essay competition the best way to address the problem? Do we, like other endangered species, need someone outside to protect us, to secure our habitat and contain our predators and expand our feeding and breeding grounds?

Whether or not there is a crisis in our Quaker world or outside it, I believe there is scope and opportunity to mend it.2 I believe there is much of God in the Society and in Christianity – as there was from the beginning. But there is no ‘silver bullet’, no simple or even single action to secure our way out of the crisis.

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