A friend at the Meeting in California hosts a mailing list. He writes out to some list of BCC and you have no idea who else is on that list. He occasionally replies to someone, bringing their response forward to all. It's different, but it is the culture of his list. The power dynamic is so different, but i think it's wise. He is a rare black attender in the mostly white California meeting, and he's willing to prick the white conscience with regard to racial privilege.
I struggled a bit with the power structure of his list last night, as i replied to a reply someone else had made to the host's use of the word whiteness. In an amazing act of white privilege, this person had complained that the use of the word made him feel something was wrong with his skin. My response was a bit more developed response of "Sit with the discomfort and think about it." I eventually simply replied to the host and the other correspondent, not BCC'ing or CC'ing anyone. I thanked the host for providing the discussion space.
This morning i am more able to see what is going on: we must trust the host to curate ... fairly? justly? It is not transparent, a word that comes to mind as echoing the Charlotte Mayor as she tries to negotiate between the police and the people. My discomfort with this list is it isn't transparent, and i need to trust the host. The people of Charlotte ... they have a situation with trust and transparency, too. I've no idea how many responses the host receives, how often his BCC list is "all" or "some", how wide or diverse the community of discourse is. I think it's wise though, because it is a way the black voice will be heard in the white space. Our host's moderation reminds me of the moderation of nuclear reactions in a power plant: the clamor or white voices as we, in our many different places of facing our privilege, feedback upon each other and melt down. Our host absorbs and paces the discussion, keeping it from being overwhelming, keeping the silence between messages that is hard to do in an asynchronous medium.
I knew last night i recognized something "Quakerly" about the space our host had made. This morning i see the pacing he creates, keeping the space between the responses, choosing whom to recognize as clerking the discussion. And just as one holds the clerk in the Light, recognizing the difficulties they face in the challenge of moderating, i hold our host in the Light too.
--== ∞ ==--
In other news, i have avoided the debate and much (i suspect) of the rehashing of the debate. Each morning i read the analysis at http://www.electoral-vote.com/
trying to skim past most of the eye rolling at The Donald, but occasionally following the links to news articles, such as the one about the Trump campaign trying to find a mosque The Donald could publicly visit. I admired the responses i read about: no we will not create a photo op, but yes we will sit down and talk with you. The local Meeting's women's group is gathering tonight and the invitation includes "bring your favorite quotes from the debate." I will not go. I wasn't feeling inspired, as yesterday i was dragging with a cold (it's too soon to see today how that will go). But until debates are about policy and not performance, i'm opting out.
I spent the weekend lopping and have indeed created a huge pile of brush to eventually send through a chipper as well as tangles of grape and honeysuckle vines to be burned. I haven't quite figured out my metric for "worth the time to send through a chipper" vs "burn" but i have one, some instinct about the balance of effort and reward with a bias to chip. I got quite worn out on Saturday, working in the sun. Sunday i reserved energy and spent some time just appreciating the cleared space and the trees of the understory. I selected spindly oaks to keep and hope will grow up above the dogwood and redbud, lopped out sweetgum, found what might be spicebush -- a native plant that fills the same niche as the autumn olive and is host to spicebush swallowtail butterfly larvae -- along with ferns and pipsissewa. (I'll note i was taught to call Chimaphila maculata pipsissewa, not, as Wikipedia redirects, Chimaphila umbellata.)
Monday and yesterday i corresponded - and also had an insight: i can start drafting digital Yuletide greetings NOW. I was considering what to write to someone back in California and was feeling like i had no place to connect a conversation. I'd sent the person my month one and two missives, so i knew they had a picture of where we were, but no real response. So i've drafted a note to send come Thanksgiving or Yuletide with a how are [things] going. Actually, as i write today, i'm not sure why i feel the need to delay sending that.)