As many of my readers know, I stopped blogging so much because I was able to move on to a new and exciting job doing what I love and care about. I took the job of Associate Executive Director of Community Mediation, Inc. (CM) You can guess on your own that I have already begun infusing Nonviolent Communication into much of the work that we are doing. Since I know many of the folks who read this website also support the work I am trying to do and my hope of training a whole city in conflict management skills, I ask you to help my new organization with this local challenge to raise money. No matter where in the world you live, change has to start someplace, why not CT? Give and help support the work we are doing……
In the past few months, CM has been in the schools teaching New Haven youth peer mediation skills. We have been to various agencies like Madonna Place in Norwich, Public Allies in New Haven, The Children’s Center in New Haven and New Haven Family Alliance presenting workshops based on Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication. We helped to organize and present at the Seventh John A. Speziale Alternative Dispute Resolution Symposium titled, Achieving the Goals of Criminal Justice: A Role for Mediation.
We are currently working with New Haven Police to present community dialogues that will introduce citizens in each district of New Haven to the new NHPD Police Chief, Frank Limon. We are also working with the New Haven Juvenile Review Board (JRB) along with New Haven Family Alliance to provide mediation at each of the JRB panel hearings. We are working to start new programs, expand our mediation services and train more people in our community in mediation, conflict management and facilitation skills.
We cannot do all the great work we are doing without support from you, the community. The Community Foundation has started a new website to make it easier for you to support us. They have also issued a challenge to the community to find 50 people willing to make a donation more than $50.00 to make us eligible to get an additional $25,000 to continue and expand the work we are doing. We ask that you help us with this challenge by making a donation through the new giveGreater website for us. Your money goes toward making New Haven, Connecticut and our world a more peaceful place.
What I enjoyed about this video is that it didn’t come from Fox or CNN, it came from a science organization in England. This isn’t rhetoric from American new agencies but opinions from people who actually study this stuff. I will say my line again….if by socialist, you mean I believe in people over profits than yes, call me that. In fact call me whatever you want just stop spending your billions while people suffer. You don’t need a flat screen in your bathroom while millions of people don’t have a bathroom.
I over heard this young man who worked at Walmart talking to his fellow cashiers about who he got a deal buying this gold watch and gold pendant that was bigger than my whole hand for $1000 dollars. He was just gleeful in his good fortune of getting such a deal on these fashion items…I felt sad hearing him talk as he was so young. I thought, he could have put that into a savings account or used it towards going to school so he could get a better job than cashier at Walmart. He could have put it towards his retirement or savings for his own child’s college education. He could have used it to do so many things and yet the gold sits on his neck and he doesn’t realize just how much it is weighing him down….yet.
I agree with whoever it is that made the statement that it will not be until the last drop of water is gone and the last piece of bread has been eaten that folks will finally get it…you cannot eat money or gold.
Great video explaining what nonviolence really means in a campaign and why it works…..a must see for activists.
In my sleepy New England beach town lives a group of people who stand on the corner at the main light in town holding signs that read “honk for peace” and “Stop the War.” Of course, I support this message. I don’t support people standing on the side of the road holding signs for peace and that is because I don’t believe peace comes to anyone through crayola creations. If you truly want peace, put down the poster board, role up your sleeves and take a short trip into the downtown city near you where kids are killing kids, gangs are more popular than schools and our elected leaders see nothing wrong with putting 14 year old children in jail for fighting. Put down the sign and realize that peace takes work, action and persistence not signs.
I have always been a bit annoyed on some level when I see people going to great lengths to promote the idea of peace in the middle east, peace in other countries, even world peace and yet those same people do little or nothing to foster peace in their own backyards. I mediate with groups of kids more often than I would like, who have been arrested in their schools for fighting, even all out brawls of kids fighting. They get arrested, expelled from schools so they won’t get educations and the bloodlines of poverty continue. When these young adults come to me, they carry in charges like assault or breech of peace. Many are in hearings to be expelled from school. In most of the cases I have done, the fights come from petty he said/she said arguments that kids just haven’t been taught to manage. We fail our kids for each day that goes by and we don’t teach them the skills they need to manage conflict with others. We fail them even further when we punish them for our failures rather than restoring them and the community by teaching them, counseling them and giving them the tools they needs to succeed.
From this, I hope you can understand my frustration when I see this group waste a whole Saturday on the side of the road with signs for peace when I know they could have spent the day mentoring kids, volunteering at the local community center or offering to babysit for a single mom who needs child care so her kids don’t grow up in poverty. They could have spent the same Saturday taking some inner city youth hiking in the woods, or to clean up the parks where the adults left their trash. Perhaps they could have volunteer to be the ones that teach these kids conflict skills so they stop killing each other.
I understand they want to express their passion for peace and I want them to know, it takes more than passion to have peace. Eleanor Roosevelt said once, “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” Not sure I could get this message across to others any more clearly than she did.
In an April 4, 2010 interview with CNN, Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights leader and friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said that, “We are missing the moral leader of America who had emerged not just the moral leader of America but of the world.” Now he did say this on the anniversary of King’s death and yet something about his statement struck a chord for me. I wonder what the world would/could look like if we stopped thinking in these absolutes that are far from absolute?
When it comes down to words, moral is a tough one. It is up there with words like good, bad, right, wrong, truth, lie, terrorist or freedom fighter. All of these words are subjective to one’s own beliefs. We can never truly have the moral leader unless everyone agrees with a universal definition of moral and that will never happen. We also don’t have definitions or clear guidelines with words like right, wrong, good, bad, etc. All of these words change by person, time, or place. What is right for some isn’t right for all. What is moral to some is immoral to others. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right? Who gets to make these calls?
These words are really just a part of our language that stems from our system of punishment and reward. Those that are good, right, or moral deserve reward and those who are bad, wrong or immoral deserve punishment or pity. The issue remains that these things are arbitrary and get us no closer to what is really going on with people or ourselves or how to meet their real human needs. Sadly, these system are the source of much of the violence on our planet that I wish to change.
I get what Rep. Lewis is saying and yet I disagree with his strategy to meet the need. In the past, we have had leaders like King, Gandhi, Chavez, and others who are my hero’s in life and yet not everyone agreed they were moral, truthful, or right. The lines between what is right or wrong, what is good or bad, what is moral or immoral are a bit thin and at best, shaky. How can we have a moral leader if we can’t even decide what is moral? Who would he lead but those who agree with his version of moral? I believe a leader has to lead everyone not just those who agree with him.
I propose we stop thinking in terms that don’t work for all of us and start looking at things more universal to all of us. Lets start thinking about what connects us rather than what put us into boxes based on what we deserve, like good or bad, right or wrong, moral or immoral. All of these terms are just code for what we think people deserve. Let’s start thinking in terms of universal human needs!
Human needs cross all the barriers whether it be race, age, religion, sexual orientation, or culture. All humans have the same needs. Why not evaluate things based on how well they are meeting universal human needs rather than what we think people deserve. I might say to Mr. Lewis, stop caring about “WHAT” people “ARE” like moral or immoral, good or bad, right or wrong since those thing are so fuzzy and start thinking in terms of how those same people’s universal human needs are being met or not met.
When you really stop and think about it, there are no human needs that are negative or positive needs. It is hard to think of food, shelter, creativity, safety, spirituality or rest as positive or negative, good or bad. They just are, right? So if, like psychology says, we are all just out to meet our needs, then there are no actions that are negative or positive if we evaluate how well they meet human needs. In simple terms, even if the strategy you chose wasn’t effective, the goal was to meet a human need. There were other choices, strategies that could have been chosen that could meet the same need at less cost to others.
The thing about needs is that psychologist have been telling us for decades that all human behavior is in the service of needs, yet we live in a society that tells us having needs is weak or too touchy or mushy. How do we live past the contradiction of what our language allows and what science has discovered to work? How do we get back in touch with our human authentic selves?
I know Rep. Lewis wants the same things I want….human needs met. I bet he wants his needs for harmony and peace met. I bet he also wants his needs for congruency with his faith met too! I bet he would like his need for respect for life to be met. I can respect those needs because I have them too, we all do! That is what connects us as humans, our needs! We can understand each other much better when we see that we are all after the same things…..getting our needs met…
Again, I ask you to stop looking for a moral leader and look for a leader who can understand what will really meet human needs and open to all the strategies available to do that. I ask that we stop looking for people to do the right thing (assuming we can get past the arbitrary right or wrong) and look to do what contributes to human needs being met. Stop worrying if our actions are aligned with a political party or church and ask to these actions contribute to life? Do they meet universal human needs?
Although I am pretty much a secular minded person now, I can tell you that much of my roots believing in Nonviolence came from what I learned as a child attending Christian schools. I learned Jesus was the model of nonviolence. I learned the commandment, thou shalt not kill and noticed that didn’t have exception next to it as I often see people adding. I learned that “blessed are the peacemakers” and I learned that if some hits you, turn and offer them other other cheek so they can hit that too! Turn the other cheek has never meant to turn and look the other way, and if fact means the opposite. I find so many people who don’t realize that nonviolence wasn’t a suggestion in the bible but a requirement.
This article I found at Huffington Post makes some great obeservations about nonviolence in the bible. I think more Christians who are happy to promote the idea of god’s army would take a look the other side of the coin!!
Read on…..The Easter Message of Nonviolence
On March 27, 2010 at 9:00pm, there will be a showing of the film Our Journey to a Smile. The film will be simultaneously shown nationwide and narrated live via Skype from Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan by the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers.
Here in Connecticut, we will be showing the film at the Sheffield Auditorium - First Congregational Church, Old Lyme. We are asking for a donation at the door as this is a fundraiser for the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. We also ask that you bring your own snacks. We will provide the beverages.
Hosted by Spectrum: Arts and Education for Peace, CT Network of Spiritual Progressives and CT Nonviolent Communication
Here is a sample of the film:
I took this quote from this article. I request you read it and share your thoughts.
“What is this kind of love? It appears to me that Jesus and Gandhi and those of us following their tradition through the practice of NVC think of love as the full radical acceptance of the humanity of every person, regardless of how unhappy we are with the results of their actions. This love is a commitment to act in ways that uphold that humanity; to care for the wellbeing of the other person even when we are in opposing positions; even when all that we value is at stake.” ~Miki Kashtan,
It has been awhile since I have written about things I see in the gay news and this just caught my eye as such a chance to use creative nonviolence to make a point. It would seem anti-gay activist and founder of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera is going to take a shot at political office. He is running for Republican State Central Committeeman for the 13 Congressional District of Illinois. I admire his use of the democratic system by running and hope GLBT folks do the same. I would love to see Peter running against a gay or lesbian opponent.
Of course, part of his campaign platform is based on his opposition to equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and anyone else who doesn’t fit into his view of pro-family. I couldn’t help but think wow, this is such a great opportunity for some creative nonviolence in action. The possibilities of how to turn this into something more positive are endless. For starters, any actions taken needs to respect Mr. LaBarbera’s humanity regardless of how he sees us as GLBT citizens. Attacking the message is really all that’s needed here. Mr. LaBarbera does have children and I have no desire for those kids to see hurtful stuff in the news about their dad. It is not the kids’ fault their dad chooses to be so outspoken against GLBT folks.
At the end of the day, Peter and I share some of the same human values. We both care about family, security, spirituality, stability for our country, and many other things. Where we differ is on the strategies to meet those human needs. I personally don’t ever want to lose sight of this in others regardless if they are unable or unwilling to see it in me.
Back to my idea, I love the idea of turning his campaign into a pro-GLBT event. Here are some of my ideas of how to make it work:
- Let’s hold a LaBarberathon…..we could raise money for GLBT youth by collecting donations for everyday he stays in the race or how about we get people to donate $5 for every time he says “homosexual agenda” in a speech.
- We could do a silent protest of all his campaign events, press conferences and speeches while carrying signs with some of his more colorful quotes about GLBT folks and just refusing to talk (tribute to a Day of Silence). When people ask protesters to speak they can hand out cards that say why they are remaining silent. I think many would find that the mean-spirited things he has said about gays and lesbians don’t match up with the picture they know to be true from their GLBT friends, relatives, co-workers, etc. While he makes us out as monsters he also hurts and offends those with connections to the gay community. Bring his words into the light of day.
- We could also start a Political Action Committee and call it “Leatherman for LaBarbera” and collect money for his opponent.
I bet many ideas are out there about how to use creative nonviolence to address Mr. LaBarbera’s campaign against GLBT folks. Below is the list of what creative nonviolence is from the peace site, Pace e Bene.
April 16, 2010 - 32 Elm St. New Haven, CT
9:00AM - 4:00PM
Transform conflict in your home, workplace, school and in your community
Based on the work of Marshall Rosenberg and the Center for Nonviolent Communication
Most of us have been educated from birth to compete, judge, demand, and diagnose — to think and communicate in terms of what is “right“ and “wrong“ with people. We express our feelings in terms of what another person has “done to us,” instead of taking responsibility for our feelings independent of another person. We struggle to understand our own needs in the moment, or to effectively ask for what we want without using unhealthy demands, threats, or coercion. At best, communicating and thinking this way can create misunderstanding and frustration. And still worse, it can lead to anger, depression, and even emotional or physical violence.
Through a combination of lecture, group work, video and role plays, we will examine the thinking, language, and moralistic judgments that keep us from managing the conflicts in our lives. We will explore the 4-Part NVC process and how it can be used to express ourselves in ways people can hear without judgment or raising defenses. We will also explore news ways to hear what others are saying so we don’t hear blame or judgment of us. You’ll start to manage conflicts with more easily, request what you want without using demands and begin to strengthen your personal and professional relationships.
Register Online at www.community-mediation.org or mail check or money order to: 32 Elm Street, New Haven, CT 06510. (Checks should be made payable to Community Mediation, Inc.) Registration is open to the public. Seating is limited. The requested fee for this training is $89.00 per person and includes lunch and materials. A selection of NVC books will be available for purchase at the workshop via cash or check. The deadline for registration is April 12, 2010. Questions, please call (203) 782-3500.
About the Presenter:
Twice the victim of violent crimes, Joe Brummer has spent years exploring why people commit acts of violence against others. He has studied nonviolence, conflict resolution and clocked hundreds of hours at the mediation table. He has worked with the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence to bring nonviolence to youth in schools, trained with the Community Mediation Center of RI and serves on their Juvenile Restorative Justice Advisory Board. In the winter 2008, Joe attended the International Intensive Training on Nonviolent Communication. He has presented on NVC at national conventions, universities and private organizations across New England. Joe is the Connecticut representative for New England NVC. View his website at www.speakcompassion.com
Sponsered by Community Mediation, Inc.
This was a short clip on the blocks to listening from the Martin Luther King Day workshop I presented at the Dae Yen Sa International Buddhist Temple in New Hartford, CT. I really enjoyed doing this workshop and was happy it was well attended. Anyway, I would love to hear your feedback on this clip and my style of presenting. I learn from the feedback.
I enjoyed reading this post over at G-A-Y and particularly liked this statement from Jeremy Hooper who I have much respect for because of his nonviolent way of confronting the religious right. I think there is valuable wisdom in this quote!
As active participants of this [civil rights] movement, we can and should challenge tactics, strategies, rhetoric, and leadership. Both ours and our opposition’s. However, there’s no reason to turn it personal. As people who come with all of the trappings that are laid upon us as humans, we’ll naturally have our own interpersonal whatnots with each other. But for the sake of the movement, we should strive to disconnect the two. The message is what matters.
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"Be the change you wish to see in the world"
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.
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