A Post-Election Message from Tom Gibian

Election day meant different things to different people. In our school community, we recognize and hold up the importance of respect for those holding views different from our own, and the immeasurable value of teaching and learning in a space where we, unambiguously, support the need for all to feel safe in their self-expression. We understand that, for some, the election marked a new beginning with hopeful tones and positive directions. For others, it was a heart-wrenching experience. On Wednesday, I attended a noon Meeting for Worship with a group of upper school students and teachers. We sat together in our well-worn, ancient, comforting space. We met in this manner because that is what we do when we celebrate, when we mourn, when we are challenged to reach a deeper understanding.

It is at times like this when I appreciate and rely most on my beliefs that spring from Friends’ values. I believe there is dignity and worth (Light) within each of us, and that it is possible to gain greater understanding when we gather together in silence. I also accept the terribly optimistic view of early Quakers (that we still adhere to) that, through good works and an active commitment to civil society, the world can be fairer, cleaner, safer, more just and Light-filled. An iconic image for many Quakers is captured by the artist Edward Hicks in his depiction of the lion and lamb, in the wilderness, sharing the earth together.

For almost 400 years, our Quaker hopefulness has been honed in the crucible of political activism. From the beginning of our society, Friends have been active when addressing the government and its rule. This began in response to opposing laws that affected Quakers directly. As time went by, Quakers were among the most active participants in movements to end slavery, for women’s suffrage, in the support of prison reform, the humane treatment of those with mental illness, and the promotion of peaceful conflict resolution.

The road map from here? Every day I watch how each of our faculty and staff practice with such diligence and love the discipline that is woven throughout our school: “QRA” – Question, Reflection, Action. Our immediate work is to be centered and engaged with queries through which we become better informed, more purposeful, and able to seek and find a measure of calm. My promise is that in the spirit that moves through Sandy Spring Friends School, we will continue to hold up the inherent value of every person who has been made to feel as one or another of the varieties of Other, and all of our allies. This is our school, we are safe here, and here we live in the spirit that never rests.

Tom

Edward Hicks, "The Peaceable Kingdom"

Edward Hicks, “The Peaceable Kingdom”

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