Conflict in Meetings

Department: 

Dear Friends: Conflict in our meetings is often not resolved in a manner satisfactory to all involved. Frequently, some individuals or groups are left on their own to swallow changes they are not ready for. This happens even though much willingness to being open to a way forward has been experienced within the meeting. It happens whether the conflict is instigated by the behavior and/or beliefs of one individual or by Friends who are promoting new perspectives.

Some of the conflicts I have observed among Friends have been the consequence of social forces that underlie a concept whose time has come. Some have been the creation of political and military thinkers who have used their powers to intimidate resisting civil forces. And some have been a result of rather petty differences of understanding and perspective between individuals whose identities are tied up in their (somewhat delusional) beliefs that their own actions are in accordance with our testimonies.

The notion that a particular future outcome is “God’s Will” leaves me skeptical. Who is to know for sure? Change happens, but let’s be more sensitive to all involved and provide a place and an Elder or two against whom to rail about the matter. Let’s be more realistic about the time, energy, money, political, and religious will that is available to be tapped into, so that we might extend the positive and minimize the negative.

[A longer version of these reflections can be found in Western Friend’s online library.]

– Joy Belle Conrad-Rice, Interior British Columbia Friends Meeting