Published in the Friends Bulletin
June, 1976

The question, "What of the Future" is one on which I find I have almost no thoughts or vision. I think that we do "hide from the long-but-near-term view behind the bushes of our daily joys and disappointments", but my own life seems to have become one of doing whatever I do because it is the next thing that has to be done, and I am not able to overlook that thing in order to see something more distant. I have little vision for myself, and hardly any for the Berke1ey Meeting or the Society, let alone the world.

There was a time when I was very active politically first at U.C., later in Berkeley city government; I have been active in various ways in the peace movement particularly in advocating tax refusal and offering sanctuary to men in the military. I am less active these days, probably partly due to the "brick wall" syndrome (you can only bash your head against a brick wall for so long until you either stop or break your skull), also partly due to a sense that the overall awareness on the planet or in our society is higher than it was twenty or even ten years ago, but at the same time those aware persons I knew or knew of have gone off in directions I am not ready or able to follow, e.g. withdrawing to the country, living off the land, etc. Those who remain behind to try to cope with city life seem to me to have become more provincial not broader, in their concern over increasing neighborhood involvement with each other at the expense of a sense of the city as an organic whole. Maybe it's not, but large aspects of our lives function as if it were: transportation, communication, most jobs, recreation, city services, etc.

There was also a time when I was or felt myself to be spiritually neutral; 1 came to meeting not to "worship" or "commune with God" but because I felt strengthened in the silence per se and because I liked hearing the messages that people had to offer. Those things are still true, and I still am a "non-theist" meaning that I think it makes no difference whether you believe in God or not or use the terminology or not (even God doesn't care if you believe in him or her or it or not; one's conduct is what counts), but the concept of "worship" and "centering" have become real to me; at least I'm willing to use the terms, and I no longer feel spiritually neutral. Like Roger Lorenz I have "discovered" the teachings of Ken Keyes in the Handbook to Higher Consciousness, which have filled a kind of void in my psyche and made my life and that of others much clearer. In particular I have come to feel that whatever action I take with regard to whatever I feel "ought" to be done, in relationships, in work in social action, has meaning and permanence only if I am centered or worshipful while endeavoring to bring it about, and further that, since those whom I may need to persuade may differ from me in what they feel "ought" to be done, I must be prepared to accept their continuing to differ with me and to love and accept them just as much and the situations just as much even if they do not change. This I see as the central teaching of Ken Keyes as far as social action is concerned; whether or not I bring about any change in the outside world is less important than whether I remain centered and loving in spite of whatever is happening that I may not like, not only for me since that is the best state of being but for others since it also is best for them for me to be in that state. This sounds very much I fear like a philosophy of "seek thine own serenity first and let the evil of the world continue"; what I think it really means is that I can only in fact truly and permanently change the world, as well as must salubriously, when I have found my own serenity. "What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, but lose his own soul" applies not only to material possessions and temporal power but to all forms of coercion including social change, however gentle and non-violent they may be. When I am at peace inwardly and can love even those who oppose me, then I can work most successfully to bring about any change I want in the outside world.

So my vision for the future, insofar as I have one is that more people come to experience and live what Ken Keyes calls the "Law of Higher Consciousness": Love Everyone Unconditionally, including Yourself. We have been taught to love everyone, but it has not been made clear that the kind of love we need to have is unconditional love - accepting another person as a human being and child of God completely and unconditionally in spite of their actions and even as we work to change those actions; if we love them they will listen to our preferences regarding their actions and if we can keep our serenity even if those preferences are not realized we and they will be better off. This I believe is what Hosea taught (6:6) when he reports God saying, I will have mercy and not sacrifice since the word translated mercy can be translated unconditional love; what Jesus taught when he said Love your enemies, Give unto him that asketh of thee and Let your love include all men, even as God includes all in his love; and what George Fox taught when he said Walk cheerfully over the earth, speaking to that of God in every man.

(originally published under the name of John Fitz)