Action Rooted in Spirit
By Annie Boggess on 10/04/2012 @ 01:05 PM
This weekend’s field committee meeting was, in a word, awesome. The two and a half days that I spent with its members - Quakers from across the country with valuable and varied experiences with political action - affirmed the ways in which Quakerism resonates for me as a spiritual grounding and as a frame for social action. Our time together gave me energy, conviction, and affirmed my place here at FCNL. I just can’t get over this feeling that I really am in the right place at the right time.
Over the course of the day on Thursday, I overheard committee members preparing for their lobby visits with other folks in my pod. The first floor was alive with energy, and it was so wonderful to witness FCNL staff collaborate with these folks. Even some of our committee members can find lobbying intimidating. Some had even written to us in advance asking whether it was worth talking to representatives who seemed “hopeless” when it came to FCNL’s priorities.
Our response was – it is never hopeless! We encouraged committee members to make the appointments, and many of them shared quite positive experiences upon their return from the Hill. One Friend told us about making a genuine connection with a staffer who had served in the military. Another told us about finding common ground with a legislative aide whose member of Congress has not stood with FCNL on many issues. These Friends planted seeds and nurtured relationships – even though taking the first step might have been scary.
These stories of lobbying helped focus our time together on how to support people who find themselves with the same doubts – can I really make a difference? Is it even worth talking to someone who disagrees with me? Friends continue to find first-hand that it is. Even when the path looks steep and rocky, taking that first step up really can move us forward towards positive change.
We gathered first thing on Friday morning to dive into the agenda -- recruiting folks like you to come to the Quaker Public Policy Institute and Lobby Day, preparing for Annual Meeting, and framing our approach to supporting constituent action across the country in 2013.
Throughout our meeting, the committee members’ recent lobbying experience kept us grounded in this question of how we can best encourage people to join this community and take action. All of these conversations are fundamental to the work FCNL is doing and planning to do, and underline the work that I personally feel the most passionate about: empowering people like you to communicate with your members of Congress.
These conversations were even more exciting because I came away from the meeting feeling that the committee came to unity around these issues. We agreed that starting to lobby is the easiest – and the most fun – when there’s someone else with you. We’ll be talking more in the next few months about inviting people to come lobby and creating a network of support for folks who want to start lobbying. Why the focus on helping people lobby? It’s far and away the most effective way to affect change, whether in your home state or here in Washington.
In short, I felt that we centered in on a commitment to action. This is a thoroughly exciting place to be. My joy deepens still further, because we came to this place through a genuine spiritual process. I truly felt lifted up by every person at that table. Everyone there wanted to hear what I had to say and to welcome me into a group joined together around action.
That’s the kind of community we want to create across the country. Lobbying may seem scary, and Washington may seem far away. But we’re all here to do this together, to lift each other up and show each other the way forward.
Creating change is within our power - won’t you join us?