Open Quakers

Dedicated to Openness and Inclusivity in Quaker Meetings

Conflict and Communication

The following letter by Gordon Slaymaker was published in The Friend on 2nd August 2019.

Conflict and communication

We have seen much in the Friend recently regarding conflict in our Meetings. We even have a record of it in Quaker faith & practice 10:22 by Joan Fitch from 1980.

Conflict, as such, is not the issue. We are, after all, humans. It is normal. What is not normal is the avoidance of addressing it, particularly in a spiritual body that champions peacemaking.

It seems that some personality types are more averse to addressing difficulties than others. They can be seen as 'avoiders'.

Then there are the 'blockers' – those who put obstacles in the way of further discussion, maybe a word, as if the oracle has spoken and that is final. They may be those who have been in positions of authority in their working lives, particularly the hierarchy–type organisations, and who do not like being 'called out' by those they deem to be lower down the 'pecking order'.

Then those who must do all they can to protect our 'precious Society', want to remain the same, in stasis, fixed and, ultimately, dead. Unfortunately that is where Britain Yearly Meeting seems to be heading.

When conflicts arise we must go through the discomfort of communication. Here is found spiritual growth, advancement in the life of the spirit. It brings that 'zing' to meetings.

© Gordon Slaymaker
Lancaster Meeting, Lancashire