Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Report from FCNL

Joe Volk (right) at Reedwood Friends near Reed College

Joe Volk recently had the privilege of joining an AFSC delegation to China, his only previous trip in 1984, and a lot had changed. Officials were easier to understand, their readings dovetailing more, plus China's charm offensive was bearing fruit, the new landscape more a collaborative enterprise, between internal and external engineers, architects etc.

Joe's story is compelling in that he started testing his belief system while still an enlisted soldier in 1968, open to the Just War doctrine, yet resolving to uphold the Nuremberg Charter and disobey orders to go to Vietnam, should push come to shove, which it did.

He liked the matter of fact way the AFSC office handled his case, offering to periodically phone the stockade where he was imprisoned, just asking about his welfare, and he resolved to later study the Quaker peace testimony, which he understood informed these actions. Today he heads one of the oldest, most respected lobbies on Capitol Hill (FCNL), which has a brand new "green building" -- a hot commodity in DC these days, with lots of MVPs asking for tours.

Back to China, Joe's previous trip had been in the company of Lewis Hoskins, a stalwart of the Quaker Men's Group I've attended for years, and ambulance driver for Friends in China during the WWII era. On this trip, the delegation's Chinese hosts expressed gratitude and appreciation for this service, which was delivered without regard for political affiliation or ideological predilection.

My only trip to China to date was way back in the 1970s, in the company of Glenn Baker and his parents. I recently uploaded some pictures from that trip, taken by Glenn, to my "good old days" folder on Flickr.

On another topic, I notice Kiselev's Geometry / Book II, Stereometry is now available in a language I know. I just ordered my copy from Sumizdat with a discount for having purchased Book I.