Quaker Studies

Grasping the Nettle: Conflict and the Quaker Condition

Quaker Studies (2010), 15, (1), 67–83.

Abstract

Conflict among Quakers is unexpected: the espoused image of the Quaker community is peaceful and tranquil. In the community narrative, commitment to ‘mend the world’ is undoubted but conflict within the community is handled with aversion, not articulated, and harmony is privileged above justice. The ‘theory in use’ is ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t even think about it’. Quaker identity is cherished and challenges to it provide the rationale for intractable conflict sagas. The hesitation of the ‘absolute perhaps’ is visible in unwillingness to appear authoritative about tackling conflict. A different account is reported from Ireland Yearly Meeting where Friends appear to be able to grasp the nettle of conflict and remain friends.

Grasping the Nettle: Conflict and the Quaker Condition

Abstract

Conflict among Quakers is unexpected: the espoused image of the Quaker community is peaceful and tranquil. In the community narrative, commitment to ‘mend the world’ is undoubted but conflict within the community is handled with aversion, not articulated, and harmony is privileged above justice. The ‘theory in use’ is ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t even think about it’. Quaker identity is cherished and challenges to it provide the rationale for intractable conflict sagas. The hesitation of the ‘absolute perhaps’ is visible in unwillingness to appear authoritative about tackling conflict. A different account is reported from Ireland Yearly Meeting where Friends appear to be able to grasp the nettle of conflict and remain friends.


Details

Author details

Robson, Susan