Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Where Are We Going?

Stephen Grellet
1773-1855

"I expect to pass though this world but once.
Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to my fellow-creature, let me do it now.
Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."
- Stephen Grellet








"He who rejects change is the architect of decay.

The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery."

Harold Wilson










"They must often change,

who would be constant in happiness or wisdom."

Confucius





"The birds are molting.
If only man could molt also - his mind once a year its errors,
his heart once a year its useless passions."
James Allen






"The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water,
and breeds reptiles of the mind."
William Blake



√Čtienne de Grellet du Mabillier fled France at the time of the Revolution, making his way to the young United States in 1795. Like generations of immigrants after, he Americanized his name, becoming Stephen Grellet.





It was in the town of Newtown (later absorbed into Queens, New York City) that he discovered the Society of Friends, known popularly as the "Quakers, joining the fellowship in 1796. He was recorded a minister in 1798.





His success as a New York City businessman afforded him the freedom to follow his heart, and so he made missionary tours in the United States and later to every major nation in Europe where he had the opportunity to meet with Kings, Queens and Prime Ministers.





Though I first read his published journal many years ago, I have never forgotten one big take-away message. Mr. Grellet and his missionary companions often found the heads of state very receptive to their message of pacifism and square dealing among people. What shocked me as a youngster, and has stayed with me all these years, was the frankness of these "absolute" albeit constitutional rulers when they told the Friends that their nations, indeed the whole international
system, were so constituted that war and inequality were inevitable. Sadly, these "rulers" could do nothing but preside over the "way things are." For to suggest otherwise, or to lead in another direction, would be tantamount to abdication.
The king can lead only where the nation wants to go.





Today, here in the US, we have an intelligent President who wants to lead us somewhere different. As he wrestles with major problems that took years to develop, it is seemingly popular to blame him for not repairing EVERYTHING in a matter of months.





Doesn't he have the cooperation of all patriotic Americans, after all? Oh wait, that's right: the (dis-)loyal opposition has dredged the sewers for every crackpot slur and scare tactic with which to derange a frightened populace. The President was born in Kenya, he is a Muslim, he is a socialist, the economic collapse was his fault (though it commenced under his predecessor). NONE OF THAT IS TRUE! But facts, it seems, have ceased to matter to too many.





As Stephen Grellet learned centuries ago, it is a thankless task to try and improve the world. Every day there are hopeful signs of social improvement in the US for anyone paying attention. But the president's detractors would rather fault him for graciously accepting an unsought and prestigious world prize than to collaborate in providing health care to our fellow citizens thus protecting us from bankruptcy and early death that too often result from the system we have now.





People get the government they deserve.
I hope we snap out of our adolescent moodiness in time to move forward together. The alternative is too awful to contemplate.





Thanks for listening! What do YOU think?
ALOHA! Cloudia