Of course, it all depends on context. In married life, it’s pointless to argue over trivialities, but suppose the issue is important. If I don’t bring it up with my wife because I want to avoid an argument, I may feel quietly resentful. My wife will probably sense that resentment and withdraw emotionally from me. Then I feel more resentful and withdraw in turn. So begins a never-ending cycle of marital damage.
Better to calmly present my grievance and come to some resolution of the problem. Of course, if the issue can’t be resolved, open discussion may also impact the marriage negatively. If there are enough unresolved problems, outing those problems could—admittedly—result in divorce.
A similar dynamic applies to liberal Quaker meetings, where members hold a variety of diverse spiritual beliefs. To preserve equanimity in the meeting, Friends may not divulge their inmost thoughts; but the result is probably a hurtful emotional distancing among members.
Better to allow beliefs to show themselves in vocal ministry or in group discussions so that members come to know one another more intimately. Better to embrace transparency and vulnerability so that Friends can profit from different viewpoints and find the same God or Depth from which all those spiritualities flow. Better to risk honesty, which is—after all—a bedrock Quaker virtue. Yes, open discussion may result in separation and members withdrawing from the meeting, but the alternative is a simmering, hidden conflict.
~ Richard Russell
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