How Quakers Turn Hierarchy on its Head

Quakers make decisions together in such a way that ideally, everyone’s voice is heard. For Gil George, it’s a revolutionary process.

Is QuakerSpeak worth $1 a video?

Jon Watts

Jon Watts launched and directed the QuakerSpeak project for its first 6 seasons. Keep up to date with Jon’s work at his website.

4 thoughts on “How Quakers Turn Hierarchy on its Head

  1. “The means we use often determines which end-goal really happens”

    I have always said:
    “Get the process right, and we will get the right policy”

    Annual General Elections (for ALL elected representative legislatures), please!

  2. I think this account may leave out the extent to which Quakers have historically operated using hierarchal structures. I am thinking specifically of Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meetings. For example, its inconceivable to think of Quakers taking a corporate anti-slavery stance during the eighteenth century without hierarchical organization and decision making.
    Because of the Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meeting Structures, the anti-slavery concerns of individual meetings were able to be taken to higher and higher levels of church polity, and Quakers were eventually able to take an institution stand against buying slavery that would influence later abolition efforts in Britain and the United States. Our Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meeting structures are much weaker now–and so is our political power.

  3. Could it be that hierarchy is challenged, but not discounted by Quakers? Instead of less hierarchies per se, could it be that Quakers identify a multiplicity of hierarchies to which everyone has some angle or niche to which they express power? Could it be that Quakers are not challenging hierarchies in general, but the hierarchy of hierarchies? Could it be that Quaker’s challenge their hierarchies to make room for more people, to invite them up the ladder, or to build them a new ladder that they can climb? Could it be that equality of spirit is not sameness, that their is diversity of value, many kinds of inner light that can shine through humans? How can we celebrate excellence without licensing oppression that could stem from that excellence?

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