The following story was submitted by Lehigh Valley Meeting member John Marquette. He attended the Zoom talk with Andrea Seabrook on January 6th. As a former NPR National Political Correspondent, Andrea created the event in response to the January 6th storming of the capital by Trump supporters. The Zoom was attended by more than 20 Quakers and friends, and served as a window into the soul of politics as seen by Andrea and others.
Personal reflection – by John Marquette
The literal dust at our nation’s Capitol building had hardly settled before I joined journalist Andrea Seabrook’s Zoom meeting. As the 8:30 hour approached, my focus turned from cable news to Andrea and the people joining her.
A Quaker (member at Adelphi meeting, Baltimore Yearly Meeting), Andrea Seabrook spent years as National Public Radio’s Congressional Correspondent–with an office inside the capital building–before striking out on her own as an independent journalist.
Andrea has always sought to give voice to disparate ideas, refuting the classic binary “this way” vs “that way” in favor of continuing revelation of new possibilities.
She’s currently splitting her time between the Washington Beltway and Monteverde, Costa Rica, where she attends Monteverde Friends Meeting.
About two dozen others joined me in the “Zoom room” set up to hold Andrea’s conversation on the day’s events and the political process. A few were faces I recognized from PYM; others included family members and an elected representative in the State of Maryland’s House of Delegates.
Some people were Friends; all shared a love for our country as well as a sense of shock and loss. We had a need to join community in a troubling time.
Andrea began by talking about her experience working as White House correspondent for NPR, and her desire to seek a variety of voices from all perspectives as she filed stories for the network. She described her experience of covering the people who coalesced to form the Tea Party on one day and then finding herself interviewing participants in Occupy Wall Street the next.
What she revealed was the two apparently disparate groups shared common passions and even shared goals, but had very different ways of expressing their views and reaching their vision of an ideal society.
Andrea’s thesis was that Americans are attempting to find binary solutions (Democratic versus Republican/left versus right) in a non-binary world.
She didn’t use the phrase “both/and”, so familiar to many of us, but the concept of the both/and inclusiveness resonated for me and for the other participants.
Discussion was diverse and lively, with contributions from a wide range of ages and experience.
Just before the Zoom call began, members of Congress returned to their respective houses and resumed their deliberations on the Electoral College. As the Zoom ended I glanced at the TV, turned it off, and went to bed.
When I awoke, the story that the states’ Electoral College votes had been affirmed was all over my news feed.
A crisis had ended, but many questions remained. It had been a gift to gather with Andrea the night before. When we assemble as Friends–in worship at meeting or in honest discussion outside of worship–we draw nearer to the Divine.
We are not alone.