Friends (of the non-pastoral sort, at least) do not have a hierarchy. No chain of command. No higher-ups. No in-group. No pyramid of authority. No ultimate decision-maker, where the buck always stops. Nobody on the bottom, who must keep his/her head down and mouth shut for fear of retaliation. Nobody who is powerless. Nobody more powerful than whomever fills the temporary and limited role of clerk.
If Friends believe this and act on the belief, then any of them may talk to anyone as a person of authority, asking hard questions and expecting honest answers. This practice serves us well, not least because it is so different from common expectations of an organization – especially a religious organization. Another benefit is that we become accustomed to speaking as equals, and so may be less afraid to speak to those who consider themselves to wield power.
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