The Most Heroic Hero of the Decade, Maybe the Century

If you are Quaker (as I am) the biggest thing to shake up Meetinghouses and make young friends’ hearts throb all over the country is Jon Watts. I first heard about him when his video “Friend Speaks My Mind” made the rounds around Ithaca Monthly Meeting. Besides being very funny, with lots of Quaker in-jokes, this video had a further resonance for me. It single-handedly brought into the open an issue that has been festering unspoken: are all Quakers Christian? I’ve longed to affirm in some way that I am a Quaker but not a Christian for a long time. But I was always afraid that others in the Meeting might be offended. Jon finally puts into words what so many of us have been feeling:

I’m not a Christian but I’m a Quaker
I’ve got Christ’s inner light but he’s not my savior

So that’s number one why Jon’s my hero. Number two I discovered reading the Xtracycle forum Roots Radicals. Someone mentioned a young man riding an Xtracyle Radish from Richmond to Boston on a music tour. Sure enough: Jon Watts! Furthermore, he’ll be going through this area. You can read about his tour on his blog. I am looking forward to seeing him at the Farmington-Scipio Spring Gathering. Why is he biking? He writes:

Why not just drive a car like any other rational American would?

It would be easy for me to spout off a guilt-based justification about how quickly our society is killing the Earth, and how each of us is individually contributing a great deal to that destruction by owning and over-using personal vehicles. And it would be true. I do feel guilty and hypocritical about simultaneously mourning the destruction of the natural world and contributing to it.

But the deeper reason why I am riding my bike the 600 miles to Boston: I find driving, for all of it’s convenience, to be spiritually deadening. So let’s turn the question on it’s head… why, when I could be actively using my body, engaging with the land and the environment around me, viscerally feeling the miles go by underneath me, and genuinely living would I isolate myself in a sound-proof, wind-proof, experience-proof chamber?

Why in the world would anyone do that?