Nat over at maphead has been blogging about more than maps of late. He's been pondering why our meeting has been having such a hard time making a statement about wearing scented hygiene products or perfume in our building. He posits that it's because our faith community has a hard time giving itself over to the will of God. "It is a deep and systemic distrust of mediation of any kind," he says.
I have another theory related to his.
My experience of middle class people is that they don't like being told what to do. At least when I try to lead something, I'm called bossy. On the other hand, among working class people I can easily slip into and out of leadership and people follow easily and with little or no resistance.
Conversely, a middle class upbringing trains people to manage others and be a leader. I've said so before on this blog.
I think the "deep and systemic distrust of mediation" comes not from history but from social class training.
My experience of being taught to be managed is typical of working class people even today. New York Quaker Patrick Finn wrote a book called "Literacy with an Attitude: Educating Working Class Children in their Own Self Interest". His book's website has an exercise that illustrates how elite schools teach the same material a different way in working class and elite schools. It shows how working class kids are taught to think about knowledge and understanding differently from middle and owning class kids.
I'm not suggesting that the middle class way of learning is bad--I actually think everyone needs to have equal access to that kind of education.
I am saying that there might be something middle class Quakers need to learn from Quakers who are culturally working class about the joy of letting someone else (God) manage our corporate spiritual lives.
For once, I have a kind of advantage in the Quaker way of doing things. I find comfort in seeking and following the will of God because it was what I was taught to do in the working class schools I attended: do what you've been told, kids.