The non-profit I work for Global Kids has three basic rules that form the basis for all of our youth programs:
- One Mic: We give the floor to the person who is speaking.
- Safe Space: We respect other people’s opinions even if we don’t agree with them.
- Participate: We all take responsibility for contributing.
The youth who participate in our programs are asked to agree to these basic rules at the beginning, and quickly adopt them as their own. When a heated debate is going on, and everyone starts speaking at once, you hear them cry out "One Mic!" and "Safe Space!" which almost always quiets everyone down.
At Quaker Meeting for Worship this Sunday I was thinking about how much this reflects Quaker practice for how we conduct our meetings and discussions.
Quakers believe there is that of God in every person. Therefore everyone has the capacity to be a vessel for God’s will and voice to speak to the rest of us. This is the root of our belief in the basic equality, dignity and worth of every human being. And it’s why Quakers in conversation don’t tend to talk over each other or try to dominate the chat.
Quakers worship in silence. We do this to create a sacred, meditative space where anyone can speak out their own truth to the community. In our business meetings when we are discussing important issues of concern to the community, our goal is not to "win" an argument or debate, but to seek a higher truth and respond to the God’s leading for us.
Quakers have no paid clergy or ministers. Instead we believe that everyone is called to be a minister, and that everyone has their own unique ministry. We are in some sense all leaders, and all called to be open to being led by others. Or as other Quakers would say, we are collectively trying to hear the leadings of the Spirit.
It was a comforting realization knowing that the rules of engagement at my workplace matches so well the foundational principles of my faith.