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John Griffith's Reflections on Consciousness

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"In June of 2013, at age 90, I was asked to have a discussion with the children who attend Penn Valley Meeting of Friends (Quaker) in Kansas City, Missouri, about why I refused to register for conscription in World War II. Kristina Winholtz Pearson was asked to act as facilitator for this discussion. Kristina is a mother of three young children, and it was thought she could help guide the discussion in a way most helpful for the children. In the discussion, I relied mostly on childhood experiences that shaped my thinking at the time.

I was kindly told the interview with the children went well, but afterwards I confided to Kristina that I found it frustrating to try to talk about my core religious beliefs in terms that children would understand. Kristina’s response was to ask, “John, when is the last time you shared your core religious beliefs with the adults in the Meeting?” The answer is “never,” at least in any systematic way.

However, the question did make me think. What if the Meeting asked me to share with the adults as I had been asked to share with the children? What would I say? Kristina’s question motivated me to make the effort to write down thoughts that I had processed long ago but had never written down in any organized manner."