"I know that many people throughout the world face the kind of conflict that threatens their lives. I’m blessed to live in a time and place that is not fraught with such violence, fortunate to rarely encounter hostility in my daily life. And yet, I don’t feel in unity with everyone, at all times. Whether it’s in my Quaker Meeting, at work, in my family, or among friends and community, sometimes tempers flare, opposing views swirl, or anger erupts. When that happens, there’s the familiar churn of my stomach. My heart races, my throat closes up, my head throbs. I’m afraid.
The conflicts most common in my life stir fears of discovering I’m wrong or have made a mistake. I succumb to old beliefs from childhood that there is a “right” way to act or believe, as if there is only one right answer. I fear disapproval and rejection. In introductory psychology, I learned that animals respond to fear in one of two ways – fight or flight. I don’t want to do either, yet engaging with the differences brings a pounding to my chest.
Quaker practice has taught me to listen, to lead with a question instead of defending my opinion. When I remember to ask, rather than answer, I open myself to the possibility that there is something for me to learn."
~ Iris Graville