A while ago, I talked with Liz about a committee charged with a specific task (I'm keeping this non-specific because the issue has since been addressed).
I was upset because the committee and our meeting didn't seem to act on a couple of things I sent the clerk and the committee about the task. I don't remember exactly who said what, but Liz and I came to the conclusion that if I brought my concern to the committee or the meeting, I'd be asked why I didn't do the task myself. My response?
BUT IT'S THEIR JOB!
Then I realized this might be a social class thing.
At my meeting (and at the yearly meeting and in a few other Quaker settings), if you bring a concern or solution to a problem, you're often asked to lead the committee for the concern or implement the solution.
Does this happen in your Quaker circles? Do you ask, "Why aren't they..." and you get, "Why aren't YOU...?"
This, I posit, is an expression of middle class individualism and not Quakerism.
Growing up, I was taught to go directly to a person or group responsible for a task they were supposed to do but weren't doing (or were doing badly). This, I think,comes from a working class culture. When you see something in the workplace that isn't getting done the way it's supposed to be getting done, you help protect the person on the line with you by saying something to them, because you know what it's like to have the boss come down on you, what it will be like if you lose your job. And they would do the same for you.
You're concerned because what he or she does impacts your job, your livelihood. He or she may live in your neighborhood, may be related to you closely or distantly. And you can't do his or her job also because your work won't get done.
If your coworker doesn't respond, you go to his or her family. If that doesn't work, you go to the union. And you never, ever go to the boss.
No, the committee's task isn't impacting my livelihood or isn't threatening my way of life or the lives of people in my meeting. But there's something embedded in me that wants, no NEEDS, that committee to do what it has been charged to do.
Does my worldview have a place in Quakerism? I think so.
Early Friends often let each other know when they weren't faithful, when they outran their Guide. We hesitate to do so and are sometimes offended when others do so because we so value our individual freedoms, our individual leadings and beliefs. They knew their spiritual lives, their corporate lives and Quakerism in general depended on it.
I think they were right. I feel like my spiritual life, the spiritual well-being of my meeting, and Quakerism in general depend on our collective faithfulness, our ability to do what we've been charged to do.