Friday, February 4, 2011

Conflict and Quaker process

I was thinking recently about a conflict in the Meeting where I'm sojourning.  And then I found myself thinking back on conflicts -- and potential conflicts that never were -- in other Meetings and Quaker organizations I am or have been part of.

I posted the following to Facebook: 

...reflecting today that whenever I've been really angry over, disturbed about, or hurt by a conflict in a Quaker meeting or organization I've been part of, the real root of my pain hasn't been the conflict, but a lack of Quaker process. Whereas the most potentially terrible conflicts have been transformed in the deepest love through worshipful decision-making, leading-seeking, and truth-seeking together.

Thoughts?  Reflections on your own experience?

What are the parallels or analogs in Pagan groups or organizations? 


Alyss said...

I have been so blessed to be a part of a Quaker group that truly holds Quaker process as a core tenant of our community. It is HARD, and it has to be learned, but it is worth it.

Reignwater said...

Here's the little I know. Last year I attended the UUA's General Assembly. One of the items on the agenda was a vote on what to do about the fact that we had booked the 2012 General Assembly to take place in Phoenix AZ, where oppressively discriminatory laws are now in place.

Do we go anyway? Pull out? Who could go? Who would feel safe? What message does it send? Either way?

The discussion became heated going into it with fear and misunderstanding leading the conflicts. It was painful.

Then, as we got to the conference, we were repeatedly called to our higher selves, to hear each other, and to put our principles foremost. This turned from conflict, to hard work, really hard work! People talked and listened in small and medium groups; they worked on how compromise might look and on what it means to really live our principles and act out of love and respect.

In the end, there was a motion on the floor. There were perhaps 100 people lined up behind the "pro" microphone. Nearly all of them would have been behind the "con" microphone prior to all this terribly hard work. It was amazing.

This sounds like a simple story. Yet nearly a year later it moves me with awe for the dedication, work, honesty and caring that went into it. It is a testament to what can be done together. In its own way I was witness to a miracle.

Dark Daughta said...

"...the real root of my pain hasn't been the conflict, but a lack of ...process. Whereas the most potentially terrible conflicts have been transformed in the deepest love through worshipful decision-making, leading-seeking, and truth-seeking together."

Thank you for this. That pretty much sums up why I'm a lone politico in so many different ways in distant relation to so many different communities of resistance. There is no process for dealing lovingly, consciously, truthfully with conflict inside the tribe. There are a bunch of truly fucked up ways of (not) dealing with conflict that most have inherited from their families and communities of origin. The inability of individuals involved and those observing to deal in forthright, generative ways really has been the root of something awful that has taken hold in me. At this point in my life, it's only distance that holds any promise of healing what's here. That's what I've got. I was warmed to read what you wrote. I appreciated it and felt embraced by it.

staśa said...

@Alyss: YES. Blessed be.

@Reignwater, the work and process you describe sound so Spirit-centered and Spirit-filled, so blessed, so joy-full. Blessed be.

@Dark Daughta: Thank you, and I'm sorry for your pain. I think there are ways in which some of our experience is similar.

Obviously, having effective tools for dealing with conflict doesn't mean actually dealing with it effectively all the time. Or even most of the time. Or even some of the time.

I freely admit this makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

Even more so when I'm doing conflict resolution work out in communities with people who've written the book, literally or metaphorically, on conflict resolution in groups. Or when we fail to do it in our own home communities.

And then there are times when groups I'm part of do it, and do it well; or provide support for members of the community who are having trouble...

Sometimes, my faith does get restored. :)

I spent a long weekend recently at the Mid-Winter Gathering of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns. I was steeped in love. I was steeped in community, and reminded that community is a Friends' testimony. I was steeped in deep worship and good Friends' process.

It was restorative and good for me.

Thank you, each of you, for sharing. I really appreciate it.

staśa said...

p.s. @Reignwater: and like hard work, too, don't get me wrong!

RantWoman said...

Friend Dark Daughta speaks my mind.

Morgan said...

Holding you in my heart.

Anonymous said...

This really speaks to my experience. I have been in so much pain through the conflict being brushed under the carpet for years in my meeting. I have asked for process but others are too afraid.

Morgan said...

@Anonymous, I am so sorry. I know that is hard. And I wish, if it is fear holding others back, that the way through will open; that the way will open, whatever that way is, and the Spirit will lead your whole Meeting.

I also wish for you that you will have that experience, of transforming conflict through Quaker process, in other Quaker contexts, so you have that to hold onto and be rooted in.

p.s. Just a reminder to folks that when you use the "Anonymous" option, I really prefer it if you at least sign your name. Thanks.