Dispute- Leading- Yes

At its best, in the Quaker business method we thrash out our disagreement, and someone will be moved to propose a solution. Then the atmosphere changes, and we all unite behind that solution, in a joyous Yes. We do not shout yes- we might murmur, “hope so”, douce quiet Quakers that we are- but there is a sense in the air.

Unfortunately, things get in the way. One person may be overly attached to one particular solution: so we attempt to seek what is Good: “God’s will”, or the highest Good accessible from where we are now. We need to seek that good without attachment. We need to love and consider each person in the room. We need to allow each person to say what they feel moved to say, trusting that the process will lead us to the right decision through each of our presence, despite each of our failings; and we need to be content with unknowing, and defer a decision to another day if necessary.

I am aware of cases where we have got this spectacularly wrong, where a small clique has successfully controlled the decision making to create a decision they feel happy with, rather than the right decision. The root cause of two particular cases of this was one person being valued more highly than another. Equality is essential in a Quaker meeting: the only hierarchy is from respect, earned individually from each person, and a high baseline of respect given to everyone. And yet I know Quakerly decision making is possible, and I am committed to felicitating it.

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