I met Mary H. when I was sixteen years old. She was twenty at the time and my parents had been asked by NYC Quakers to take her for the summer months.
Her “story” went like this. Born in a fundamentalist Christian Maryland, USA family — she had parents paying for her to attend a university in Maryland. Then one day she learned at her school that there was going to be a peaceful march outside of a biological weapons research lab in Betheda, Maryland.
She thought about the World War I mustard gas and tried to imagine the new lethal concoctions being made at the bio-weapons facility near her university. So she decided to join the serene lined-up march outside of the lab property in Bethesda.
Everyone was orderly with no ruckus there — simply walking and marching with signs and chants. Then suddenly the police swooped in on them with batons flying every which way.
Mary watching several police especially target a fallen, obviously homosexual young man near herself in the line and decided to fling her body on top of his in the thought that the assailants would be less likely to beat up a well-dressed young woman, who looked like a co-ed — a female university student.
She used the only means that she had to protect him against the assault. It was her own body. She just couldn’t bear watching him possibly beaten to death.
So she quickly went to his side and deliberately fell on top of him. Then she rapidly locked him against herself using her arms and legs to tightly intertwine their two forms together. Then she pressed down onto him with all of her might so that she couldn’t be easily dragged off of him.
(She was right. The beaters left her alone. Besides it would have been hard to pull her up away from the man given her intense fervency and absolute will power to protect him using her only meansavailable — her total being in all of its inner strength of purpose…. Good luck in trying to yank her off of him given her level of resolve.)
Then the whole lot or most of them, the people in the protest gathering, were hauled off to jail. Accordingly, Mary found herself in jail and used her one allocated phone call to instruct her parents of that happening.
That night Mary’s parents bailed her out and told her that once her trial was over, she was to no longer live in their home. They were no longer going to support her university studies as they didn’t raise her to become so radical.
So in pain at their choice, she sought out the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) to help her since they have a track record for helping those in trouble. She could imagine nowhere else to turn.
For example, they were one of the few groups that helped the Germans after WWII and the German word for Quaker became the synonym for milk since they provided milk for young German children when most others shunned Germans, including the babies, after WWII. Indeed, they, for their effort, got the Nobel Peace Prize.
The man delivering the speech for the Quakers had no suitable clothes for the ceremony. So he borrowed a tux from Material Aid | American Friends Service Committee for the event and promptly returned it cleaned afterwords. Then it went to an orchestra conductor in Italy to wear during his work — another one, like the German children, who’d lost much in the war.
Friends Service Council , American Friends Service Committee … Committee of the Norwegian Parliament has awarded this year’s Peace Prize to the Quakers, …
Way to go — yahoo! Good all the way around — for everyone involved in the discernment process.
Ditto for the counselors: Imagine the shock of two girls in the 1950’s from the Deep South in USA, where Jim Crow Laws were in place, having a black counselor from Bermuda with her Master’s Degree in Education giving them orders, such as to make their beds, and educating them in larger ways.
Sally Dugman is a writer in MA, USA.