One of the turning point philosophies that led me to really want to learn more about Marshall Rosenberg’s process called, Nonviolent Communication is the idea that people do things from a place of giving rather than the avoidance of punishment or the seeking of reward. Rosenberg mentions the book, Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn which offers the idea that praise, rewards and gold stars are really just bribes and manipulation. Since reading the book, Nonviolence Communication: A Language of Life by Rosenberg, I have been awaken to just how much we use punishment and reward as motivation, but even more I have been awaken to just how destructive and devastating such a system is to our society, especially our children.
Rewards distract us from the real reason we should do things in life. As opposed to doing things because they will enrich the lives of others or ourselves, rewards get us to do things to get something we think we want. Rewards also lessen our ability to enjoy the things we do. We become so focused on getting the reward, we forget to enjoy what we are doing. It, in essence makes what we are doing less about the action and more about what we will get for doing it. Peacemaker and Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn in his book, Creating True Peace uses the example of doing the dishes. He notes that if our goal is to rush through the dishes so we can have the reward of our tea, we will be stuck living the future not enjoying the present. We will not notice the joys of the warm soapy water or the feel of each plate being cleaned because we are too focused on the reward of out tea.
Examples of the destructive force of rewards is everywhere. Our education system is a prime example. We teach our students by system of reward either by cute little gold stars or by grades. We do the same thing to teachers with test scores and funding. Children fail to enjoy the beauty of the process of learning because they are taught to focus on the grades. The don’t work to learn the material, they worked towards getting good grades. Sadly, it doesn’t matter if they can name all the 50 states 2 weeks after the exam because they got the reward of the A. They may remember them, they may not but in the end we adults made it more about the grade than we did about learning the 50 states. This system stems from what lingers above it and that would be the reward of funding. In order for the best schools to get the reward of more funding, they need to have children getting the reward of good grades. So rather than a system of education that has teachers teaching so that kids learn, teachers teach to get good test scores. Doesn’t matter if the kids can’t read when they graduate, the passed the test and got the scores. If the children aren’t doing well on the tests, don’t check to see if they are learning, that isn’t the real goal. Our system calls for rewards of grades and test scores, so change the test so they get better scores, not the lessons so they get better educations. It becomes a sick cycle of nothing as teachers teach to get scores and children learn to get grades, nobody is teaching or learning so that kids actually make life better. It isn’t life enriching, it is chasing rainbows. Rosenberg elaborates on this system more in his book, Life Enriching Education.
I have more recently seen examples of the damages of this system of rewards in our current economy. For many years now, Americans have been focused on “getting more” or having better than they do. They can’t enjoy the TV they have knowing there is a bigger better one. They don’t enjoy the car they have if they is a better and faster one. The house is never “big enough” and we are always working toward having more. Rarely do I hear too much about enjoying what you have. It is this mentality that has driven this country for decades. Our industries are built on the idea that people will always want more. The advertising convinces them they “need” more and what they have will never be good enough. We have a Walmart, Target and K-Mart all within steps of each other carrying the same products and we have brainwashed to believe we need all these products rather than enjoying the ones we have. Now, as people are going for broke, they are realizing they don’t “need” any of it. Factories are closing, companies are closing, and all those folks who believed their lives would be better if they managed the reward of the bigger better house are losing those to the big banks who need to be bailed out as their CEOs also drive themselves to have more. Because of course, we deserve it right? It is our reward for [fill in blank].
Our drive to reward ourselves reached fatal levels on November 28, 2008 when a 34 year old Walmart employee died because people were more interested in getting the rewards than respecting his life. A mob of reward seeking customers who had been brainwashed into believing they need “more” broke down the doors and trampled the young man killing him. When told by crying and mourning store employees they must leave while his family could be notified and an investigation could be completed, they complained that they had waited in line for hours and “deserve” to be there. Remember, if you feel you deserve it, then it is a reward and from what I can see, rewards aren’t that rewarding when you look at what they cost society.
Punishment is no better of a game. Punishment teaches us to do things from a place of fear, guilt, shame or worse obligation. I have come to a point in my own life where I would prefer no one do anything for me if it done from any of the places I have listed. I would rather people do things for me because they see how it enriches my life and theirs.
Punishment never accomplishes what we hoped anyway. When we use it to “teach” children lessons we find that we teach them to avoid punishment not the beauty in doing things differently. Next time, the child will simply get better at not getting caught rather than changing the behavior that isn’t working.
If we moved away from this system of punishments and rewards and moved into a system that focuses on meeting the needs of others, I am sure we could create a society where we buy things when we really need them, not to reward us. We would recycle not because we get fined by the city for not doing it, but because we see the beauty in taking care of the earth. We would see the value of making sure each and every child can read regardless of the test scores. Children would work toward learning the material to enjoy the knowledge rather than just passing the exam that raises the test scores that ups the funding that pays the teachers their rewarding bonus for doing a good job. People would actually do things for the beauty of doing them rather than the benefit of rewards or the fear of punishment.
All of this could happen if we just started to change the way we do things. It really could happen.
A new website titled the Charter for Compassion states that compassion is at the center of all religions and could be used to unite people. The site’s homepage says:
“By recognizing that the Golden Rule is fundamental to all world religions, the Charter for Compassion can inspire people to think differently about religion. This Charter is being created in a collaborative project by people from all over the world. It will be completed in 2009. Use this site to offer language you’d like to see included. Or inspire others by sharing your own story of compassion.”
I love this idea, but I also have some doubts that it will unite anyone when it comes to religions. Those that need a new outlook on those with differing religions are not likely candidates to buy into this idea. Fundamentalist Muslims and Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians hold conversion to their faith in much higher regard than they do compassion or peace. I suspect those are not the type of people to embrace the idea of uniting people in the world. Many see the differences in the religions of the world as a challenge that must be won like it is a mission from god, a “holy war” not a moral and just effort for humanity. Many such believers are willing to fight to be right rather than be compassionate for the sake of peace.
I do still feel inspired by anything that brings us remotely closer to a world without violence and war. I support and applaud the efforts that ask us to stop and live in new ways. I just can’t help feeling disaapointed that those who need this are not the ones who will embrace it.
Posting will be light (could it be any lighter?) for the next few weeks as I am traveling. I guess it will be light till after the new year. First I am spending the Thanksgiving Holiday with family in Pa. Then I am off to a retreat/training in New Mexico with Marshall Rosenberg. Those of you who follow this blog daily know this is big for me to go and spend 9 days training with a man who wrote the book on nonviolent communication. At the same time I will be away from my partner for 10 days and that sucks.
After that trip, I am off to visit family and then DC for the holidays. I have been wanting to spend a few days at the Smithsonian checking out “stuff”. I love museums.
Anyway, feel free to keep adding comments! I will be posting here and there when I have internet and time!
Enjoy your Turkey or Tufurkey when app.
“Peace requires something far more difficult than revenge or merely turning the other cheek; it requires empathizing with the fears and unmet needs that provide impetus for people to attack each other. Being aware of these feelings and needs, people lose their desire to attack back because they can see the human ignorance leading these attacks; instead, their goal becomes providing the empathic connection and education that will enable them to transcend their violence and engage in cooperative relationships.”
Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD, From the book, “Speak Peace in a World of Conflict”, pg. 129
You can preview the book here.
Dr. Sa’d Al-’Inzi: When a person commits an abominable act, like homosexuality, for example, or lesbianism, in the case of women’s parlors this constitutes “spreading corruption in the land,” and should be punished by death. […]
Moderator: Other than life imprisonment and the death sentence, what can be done?
Dr. Sa’d Al-’Inzi: According to Islamic law, a homosexual should be thrown from a tall building.
Moderator: What would you do with them?
Dr. Sa’d Al-’Inzi: To be honest, death is too good for them. They should be gathered in a public place, where they would be flogged and tortured, so the truth about these people is made clear and they serve as a lesson to others, because they are an epidemic plaguing society. Read more
I wonder if he really thinks god is love too! Turture, thrown from buildings, public flogging and god loves you. I am baffled at the morality of those who claim to be moral.
H/T: Atheist Media Blog
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
Joe’s note: This quote/story really makes me think about the current conflict between anti-gay and pro-gay folks. Rarely do I see them listening to hear each other, mostly they are trying to be “right” when really they should listen to each others needs.
So, I will be removing the anti-Stephen Bennett Ministries petition off my site as I have gotten exactly what I wished for from Stephen Bennett, he has found a new career that no longer involves hurting gay people. It appears that Stephen has moved on to real estate. What is funny for me is that my partner and I will be house shopping and perhaps will give Stephen a call to help us look for a house and now that I have moved to CT, you never know.
I wish Stephen the best with his new career and hope he does well despite this sad economic time. To celebrate, I have taken down the petition that basically started this blog in the winter of 2005. I hope he and Irene are done with the spreading of lies and misinformation about gay folk and sell lots of properties.
Stephen still has his ministry page here, but no one has heard much from it in many months.
I have been pondering the name of this blog and wanting to change it. At the time I chose this name, I bet it worked for me but those days have changed. Now, when I read the name, “replace the lies with truth” I feel apprehensive as I don’t think I have “the truth”, in fact, I criticize others for claiming they have the truth. None of us really have the truth….as Gandhi said, Each of us hold a piece of the truth and the untruth….
I also feel uncomfortable with the idea that this title currently claims others are lying. Now, after studying Kingian Nonviolence, Gandhian Nonviolence, Satyagraha, mediation, conflict resolution and facilitation, I don’t think that the current name of this blog is productive to having real discussion and dialog. I have my doubts this title is a reflection of what I really hope will happen here.
So as my mind has grown, and my thoughts have grown, I would like this blog to grow as well.
I would like a new name that encompasses my feelings about nonviolence and gay rights. I also plan to start changing the focus of this blog to interpersonal communication and nonviolence. I have strong feelings about the lack of conflict resolution skills we teach our children. I plan to change the focus of this to address that as I think it will help end future “culture wars” as we will equip folks with the skills they need to solve conflicts before they become wars. I would like a name that promotes what I really write about and what I care about. I would like new name that is fair to all that come here and read….
Please give me your suggestions for a new name…….
For some reason, considering all that is happening with Prop 8 and Christians claiming we are the enemy. This quote really hits home for me…
I have printed all the versions of it:
I let no man drag me down so low as to make me hate him.
Booker T. Washington
I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.
Booker T. Washington
I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.
Booker T. Washington
A new web blog has been put up that claims to address crimes and intimidation against Christians “all over the world” but careful reading shows that posts on the site so far only addresses issues regarding Proposition 8 and the gay response to this recent event. So far the site has 10 post and all over them are about Prop 8. I feel concerned this blog is not about crimes or intimidation against Christians but more its main focus appears to be making gays look like the enemy of Christians.
I can’t say, but I am curious what the purpose of the site is or what its real mission will be but time will tell. I am fearful this is about to become the next anti-gay site as I see some popular anti-gay bloggers have tacked onto it, but who knows. I think their is a difference between talking about intimidation and blaming others. It is unclear for me if this site wants to talk about crimes and intimidation against Christians and how to stop them or if it just wants to blame gays for everything bad that happens to Christians. So far, the views expressed are only one sided against gays and lesbians and portray gays and lesbians as the criminals and intimidators. I guess I should have known from the title.
Let me hear your thoughts on the site….and if the writers of the blog want to respond, I am happy to report on that too!
I have been writing about nonviolence on this site since its inception. It has been an integral part of my life for many years. I continue to strive to live nonviolently as it is a goal of my life. With that said, I must says it pains me each time I see gays and lesbians reacting to prop 8 supporters in ways that do us no favors because it uses violence because I value unity in our actions.
First off, I guess I need to describe what I mean when I use the word violence. I am off the school that believes violence can be of the spirit, of the mind and of body. We are violent when we use our spiritual beliefs to oppress others. We are violent when we try to control others via bribery, fear, guilt or shame. We are violent when we shun others into the shadows and deny the qualities that make them human. We see them for the label we have given them rather than the human they are. We see the homo but not the human, we see the christian but not the human. We see the label, name or category but fail to see the person behind the label. So, if you think you are not violent, know we are all violent in our own ways and to our own degrees. For the sake of this article, I am going to steal some imagery from Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication and refer to violent acts as Jackal and nonviolence as Giraffes. I am doing this for more reasons than Rosenberg would have, but we will get to that later.
Second, I guess I should explain what Nonviolence (Giraffe) is and why it is better than Jackal in protests and social change. You see nonviolence is time proven to be effective. Gandhi, King, Mandela, Chavez have all used nonviolence and civil disobedience to create mass social change. Nonviolence is far from inaction or some passive “ladedada”, it is creative action in motion that refuses to sink to the low levels of jackal, not of mind, not of heart and not of the spirit. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “nonviolence asks us not only we will not hit a man, but we refuse to hate him” regardless that he just told us to “turn or burn.”
Being a giraffe is creative but it seeks to build community and progress not tear others down. It seeks to change hearts and mind by use of a force more powerful than hate and never gives up on the faith that even the most stringent opponent has the potential to change. Giraffe can take the blows of the jackals because the giraffes refuse to see the actions of jackals without considering the person behind those actions. To see the human behind the label.
Next, lets address the reality of Prop 8 for us by acknowledging this is painful. It hurts to be told your love will never be recognized they way straight couples are recognized by our government. We are angry. We hear about equality, we hear about justice but it is hard to buy into these words when you are labeled a second class citizen. Those on the right are having a hard time seeing why marriage is a civil right and we are becoming increasingly frustrated at finding new ways to explain so they will hear. Sadly, I have to say I fail to see how they will hear our needs when we are speaking Jackal language calling them names like bigot and hater. I must say if I wanted to explain something to someone and have them hear it, starting off with a round of name calling doesn’t seem likely to make my opponents feel safe enough to listen to my requests for equality. Chances are we have sent them into “defense” mode or worse, we have frightened them into “I need protection mode” I wonder what they would hear if we respond in giraffe mode rather than jackal. I wonder what they world would think when they see us acting like giraffes and them looking like jackals?
I saw the footage of the older women getting the cross knocked out of her hands. I tried to empathize with her needs and feelings in that moment. I can imagine she was afraid because she valued her safety. I can also imagine she might have felt angry and helpless because she really valued her religious symbols and they were knocked from her hand. On the other side I can empathize with those who knocked the cross our of her hand. They may have felt angry because they needed a space to vent their frustration over prop 8. They may also have felt scared because they needed some emotional safety in their moment of pain. On both sides are human trying to get their needs met. We could play the blame game but where would that get us? We could play the whose right and whose wrong game but I wonder where that would get us. The philosopher Rumi said it best, “in between the ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a place, I’ll meet you there.”
I saw the footage of the church group in the Castro needing a police escort to escape the anger of gays and lesbians who followed the screaming at them to go away. I again can empathize with both sides because I truly value seeing them as humans rather than sides of an argument. I can hear the anger of the Castro residents as they need respect in their space. I can suspect the Christian group was feeling scared and needing assurance of their safety. I could play the “but those people” game or the “they said, he said” game but again, what is to be gained by this? I am reminded of Rumi words a second time.
When you read the stories of the civil rights movement or the stories from the Salt March by Gandhi, one cannot help being moved and inspired how so many people could be united in nonviolence to end injustice. In the Montgomery Bus Boycotts protesters walk for close to 300 days, some for miles in bad shoes. Some faced violence but faced it in love. In the Lunch counter sit-ins, protesters walked into the face of violence and remained firm in their conviction without calling anyone names or fighting back in anyway. The world saw this and change came quickly from it. For Each protester in Gandhi’s march to the salt factory, he trained his protesters to take on the pain of his oppressor in order to shame them. One by one protesters marched forward only to by clubbed down by British soldiers until the soldiers refused to hit another human. It took hundred of tries and human lives being changed, but the soldiers gave into the human factor.
Knowing this history of nonviolence and knowing just how powerful it is leaves me feeling sad each time I see GLBT folks responding to hate in ways that don’t help us. Each time I hear us scream “bigots” in the chants, I cringe as I know that hurts us more than helps. We are not winning our enemy over if we are trying to win against them. King knew it, Chavez knew it, Mandela knew it and Gandhi really knew it. Know we need to learn it and use it if we are going to be free.
Okay, so maybe I have sold you on the idea that we should use nonviolence. You get that is isn’t for the weak, this takes strength and courage. It means crossing lines into the middle of conflict and refusing to react as a jackal when you get there. I may have finally gotten you to see this is not Passive. Gandhi himself hated the term Passive Resistance because he saw nothing passive about what he was doing. I see nothing passive about us taking a stand, but we must choose Gandhi’s idea of Giraffe if we are going to make it work.
I have chosen to borrow Rosenberg’s ideas of Giraffe and Jackal because I am hoping they will give us a symbol and an easy reminder of how we should act. We can choose to be jackals or we can choose to be giraffes. So what are the difference you ask? I am happy to share that answer:
Jackals scream, “hey hey, HO HO, Bigotry has got to go”
Giraffes scream “we are all one” because giraffes know that screaming bigotry has got to go brings up defenses to our listeners. We want them to hear us, not tune us out.
Jackals respond to name calling with more name calling
Giraffes smile and say nothing but a smile that say more than the hateful words ever could.
Jackals play the blame game trying to motivate people with guilt and fear into seeing the world their way.
Giraffes listen and empathize with how hard it is to change values you hold close to your heart.
Jackals scream about winning against the opponent!
Giraffes talk about winning over their opponent!
So I ask you, which do you think will help us more? Being a giraffe or a jackal?
As a side note, I do agree with Jim Burroway that the vast majority of protests have been peaceful, but I also know that the likes of Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barber and Stacy Harp lurk in the background just looking for news ways to use our actions against us. Lets not give them any writing material! (In case you thought I was kidding, here is a new web blog devoted to how Christians are being attacked by homos. They of course will show you a very narrow view of gays and lesbians to make the case “all” of us are out to victimize Christians. They are also playing the victims card which I find odd since they often accuse GLBT folks of the same. Check it out for yourself but respond in kind)
This is some video of the protest in New Haven, CT. The weather was crappy, but people seemed alive! (you tube removed the video and I don’t know why, I am uploading it to google video)
CLICK PHOTO FOR LARGER VIEW
Join The Impact NYC Rally
As you may have heard, a grassroots movement called Join The Impact has sprung up in the days since the election to organize rallies in every state in the union on Saturday November 15 for the cause of LGBT equality. A gathering in New York City is scheduled for 1:30 PM at City Hall. While this is not a SFNYC organized event, I will be there and I hope to see you there as well! We recognize that marriage is not a city issue, however city halls are traditional gathering places for communities, and it is fitting for us to gather there as others across the country do the same. We are not protesting the city but rather standing up and being counted–that we are passionate about the cause of justice for LGBTQ people, that discrimination in all forms is unbefitting of our society, that gay relationships should be supported equally with straight ones, and also to remind ourselves that the journey for LGBT equality does not begin nor end with marriage.
Nonviolence Training at 11:30
In preparation for the rally, Micah and I will be leading a non-violence training for Soulforce NYC. This will cover nonviolence of the heart, communication messaging, and courageous responses to violent action. Marble Collegiate Church, located at 29th St & 5th Ave, has graciously opened their building to us for this occasion. We will meet from 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM before traveling to City Hall together to arrive by 1:30 PM.
We hope that if you are planning on attending the rally, that you will join us for this training so that we can be prepared to boldly confront this important issue.
Feel free to invite your friends.
Space is limited, please confirm attendance with email@example.com or 240-271-1499.
See you this Saturday!
Facebook event information here.
I decided today that I don’t really care about Mormons or what they spend their money on. I just want to live without fear of discrimination in my life. I don’t really care if more or less blacks voted against me in this past election. I just want to live without fear of losing my job because I am gay. I don’t really care if Christian groups do or do not support my relationship with my partner, I would just like to know we are safe, legally protected and that my tax dollars are not being used against me or him and certainly not “us.”
I also don’t want to spend my time writing, protesting or speaking out for gay rights. I would like to go watch TV on the couch with my partner and the dogs. I don’t want to make signs anymore, or brainstorm the next protest chant. I don’t want to spend hours on the internet searching for the peer reviewed science that corrects the lies and research misused by you and your friends. I don’t want to spend hours at the State House waiting my turn to testify before a committee of men who behind close doors will laugh and call me, “Faggot” and let the bill to protect me die in committee. I would like to go have dinner and a movie, then sit with friends and enjoy life.
I can tell you that I am tired as hell and emotionally worn down over the years of lies and funny looks because I am gay. I am tired of the stereotypes, the misconceptions and the mothers shielding their children from me and my partner when I know deep in my heart, they would be safer with me than most other people. I am tired of worry about what neighborhood I choose to live in and if it is “safe” for people like me. I really just want to live my life in peace.
Sadly, the reality is that I need to muster up some energy and make some posters to head out to the protest on Saturday because no matter how much the bullies try to get me to fight, I refuse to fight. Fists never suited me or my style but don’t think for one precious minute that I am going to back down and let you push me around for another day. It is our time and we are tired of being shunned, abandoned and beat up. As Melissa said, “I am a giant” and will not be afraid, I will not back down and “you will not make me fall.” I will not cower and I will certainly never give up until all of us can be free to go be with the one we love without the fear of you and your version of god.
Give it your best shot! I have survived being bashed twice now. Go ahead, hit me, punch me, pass your amendments but don’t think for one minute you have stopped me or even weakened me because you would be mistaken. The arc of the universe does exactly what Martin said it does. It leans to the side of justice. I have seen it and I know it is true. I don’t just believe in the “beloved community”, I am part of the beloved community. I am the beloved community. We are all the beloved community.
What may surprise you is that I won’t gloat when we are finally free and safe from harm. I won’t rub it in your face. I instead will invite you to dinner and welcome you into my home like a long lost friend. I have not one ounce of hate in my bones. I don’t look down on you and I don’t think less of you. I feel sorry for you. I will always be sad for those who suffer at the hand of ignorance and live in the darkness of fear of their fellow man solely because they didn’t take the time to seek out the truth. I will still see you as my brother no matter what you do to me more because I refuse to see you though the dark and cloudy lens you are choosing to use to look at me.
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"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.
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