Safe Meetings Don’t Avoid Conflict – Friends Journal

Quaker meetings need more psychological safety than ordinary organizations—even more than churches. That’s because we share intimate messages from the Spirit in our worship services. To say, out loud, things that are close to our soul makes us vulnerable, but we need to be able to share these in meetings for worship, business meetings, and clearness committees without fear of being attacked or excluded. If we don’t speak because we don’t feel safe enough to share what the Spirit calls us to say, Quakerism falls apart.

Learning about Fox made me realize that I didn’t have to suppress emotions like anger or avoid conflict to be a good Quaker. I asked a psychiatrist friend, who has been an active Quaker for decades, if there was much conflict avoidance in Quakerism. She emphatically said there was.  She also pointed out the importance of distinguishing between feeling angry, and acting on your anger to hurt someone. Healthy anger, and the response to it, brings people closer together.

Reluctance to state hard truths isn’t an essential part of Quakerism. It’s just a preference of the middle class—one that can make meetings unsafe.

Safe Meetings Don’t Avoid Conflict – Friends Journal