Sunday, December 09, 2007

Quaker Infrastructure

from the Laffoley archives, early works

I was comparing notes with a former Presbyterian on the Vietnam Era this morning. Whereas the AFSC was openly providing medical services on both sides, its traditional humanitarian calling (for which a Nobel Prize had been granted), the church-goers were launched on a relatively slow moving, deliberative approach, more professorial.

Activism is an anathema to some temperaments as it bespeaks "acting without guidance" or, in Quaker parlance, without a sufficient leading.

Given we'll always have a bell curve of temperaments, smart religions, other bureaucracies, take at least a two-pronged approach: give activists immediately relevant operations to manage; give analysts the time they need to really think before acting.

One of Paul Laffoley's more difficult instruments is this gyroscope of embedded gyroscopes (Levogyre, 1974). This seems a most definite allusion to what Bucky Fuller termed "precession," a phenomenon associated with gyroscopes, but by which he meant something more like "attractive, yet other than gravitationally." To be precessionally related is more like twisting as a strand within the same rope, and is how many a business partnership operates, though you still need core bookkeeping services to keep partners on the same page, more or less.

I think of the concentric hierarchy of meetings (monthly, quarterly, out to yearly) as like Laffoley's gyroscope. Here is a space for contemplation, deliberation, however fast or slow. Let the minutes season at the monthly level, then percolate outward, tilting the outermost rung in this omnispherical ladder, even as other minutes impinge, coming from other angles.

At the center, in a monotheism, is one source of all good. Polytheisms more focus on the concerns of top management, where not everyone gets the luxury of one overview. Atheisms are tired of crediting dieties for everything (angels whatever), wish humans would have the guts to simply take responsibility once in a while.

Given the AFSC does not mandate a specific religion among its staff, awareness of these and many more mindsets becomes a focus of Quakers as well, given their job of oversight with respect to said activist agency.