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Friends and Toxic Conformity

Trudy Myrrh Reagan
On Vision (January 2021)

Dear Friends: We gaped as almost 100 congressmen, state attorneys general, and governors signed an amicus brief to a futile lawsuit in Texas, attempting to monkey wrench the recent presidential election. A recent radio piece on NPR, “A Conspiracy of Silence” (Hidden Brain, 12/6/2020), put forth an explanation: Being social creatures, every one of us has to “go along to get along” at times.

To say what is hard, to stick out, requires a measure of safety for most of us. People can’t have informed debate while uncomfortably aware of sour judgments from those sitting on each side of them. The genius of Quakers is to provide that safe space – with practices like compassionate listening and a decision structure with built-in safeguards. It has taken me years to fully appreciate this and to learn to practice it. Out of these processes often emerge creative, surprising solutions. (I say this with humility, as I know it doesn’t always work. Note the schisms in the Society).

As Friends, we know ourselves to be beyond our temporal affiliations, which helps us feel more secure to speak out when fear is stalking the world. It is not surprising that Friends excel at mediation, counseling, and lobbying. In these ways we “leaven the loaf” of the world.

– Trudy Reagan, Palo Alto Friends Meeting (PacYM)

[Read a longer version of this letter at: https://westernfriend.org/media/friends-and-toxic-conformity-unabridged]

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