What does it mean to be prophetic
in a time of political division?
For most of my life, I have been convinced by Martin Luther King Jr.’s assertion that the moral arc of the universe was slowly but steadily bending toward justice. I imagined a slender birch tree arching toward the ground of justice: the beloved community where equality, freedom, and peace are universal truths understood and practiced every day. But in the past year, that arc has snapped back. I’ve felt shock and dislocation at having a president who lies constantly, bullies persistently, and fosters insecurity in both the foreign and domestic policy of the United States.
I grieve for our country’s political, social, and cultural upheaval as the fissures of our political institutions have become deeper, the media louder, and truth seems distant from ordinary life. I also recognize that the sharp edges of President Trump—as offensive as they are—are manifestations of problems that are more entrenched than the election of 2016. The militarization of our foreign policy and our domestic policy is not new; structural racism in our public policies is not new; an ambivalence towards—or worse, outright rejection of—refugees and immigrants is not new; sexual harassment by men in power is not new. And yet, this moment in time feels like an epic struggle for righteousness. My search for meaning in this turmoil has led me to consider anew our Quaker prophetic witness as it is alive today. How does our faith practice guide and sustain the Religious Society of Friends?