What can I do?

I feel this strong tension to be doing something about the war in Ukraine. But I don’t know what that would be. What is the Spirit calling me, calling us to do? I was glad to come upon Clarence Pickett’s quote, at the time of World War II, because I have been feeling paralyzed. Not only from the war in Ukraine, but from so many things that make it feel like everything is falling apart. COVID, state sanctioned violence, political polarization, and the increasing environmental chaos to name just a few.

“The world was breaking loose in so many places that it was difficult to know how to think about one’s responsibilities…it was important in such a time not to become simply paralyzed by the quantity of the need.”

Clarence Pickett

I have been thinking about Quaker’s response to Nazism and World War II. I know the Scattergood Hostel story because many of my relatives and I attended Scattergood, a Quaker boarding high school.

In addition to assisting those still in Europe, the Quakers helped newly arrived refugees adjust to life in the United States. The AFSC established a series of workshops and hostels to help refugees learn English and prepare for their new lives, including Sky Island Hostel in Nyack, New York; the Haverford Cooperative Workshop in Haverford, Pennsylvania; and the Quaker Hill Hostel in Richmond, Indiana. The largest and longest-running hostel was Scattergood, in West Branch, Iowa, where more than 185 refugees lived between 1940 and 1943. Working with the Joint, Hertha Kraus traveled to Havana, Cuba, in 1939 to found the Finca Paso Seco hostel, where refugees could learn agricultural trades.

Holocaust Encyclopedia

Michael Luick-Thrams has written a lot about the Scattergood Hostel, including the book, Out of Hitler’s Reach: The Scattergood Hostel for European Refugees, 1939-43. See more about Michael’s work here: https://www.traces.org/

In this video Michael tells the Scattergood Hostel story.

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