On Myths, Religion and Innocence
A large part of the reason I started this blog is to introduce others to Marshall Rosenberg's nonviolent communication. I ran into his work about a half-decade ago, shortly after going vegan. It resonated with me very strongly, because he and his work showed me not just why it is so easy to lose sight of the fact that everyone's needs have equal value, but also how we can learn to listen for and express what's alive in ourselves and in others, and how to separate the strategies we come up with to meet our needs from the needs that we try to meet that way, and to always focus on the latter. Briefly put, NVC showed me how language enables and reinforces domination structures and inequality, both inside our heads, and in the societies we produce through our actions.
Once we reject the meritocratic logic, the bureaucratic notion that we may reduce people to titles ('black', 'foreign', 'employee', 'cop', 'uneducated', 'bad'), and the notion that we may resort to violence to get our way, it quickly becomes clear that most of what we humans are currently up to -- especially at the state and corporate level -- is at best only good for some of us, and impossible to reconcile with the notion that everyone has equal inherent value.
Yet as I've come to realize, it's not enough to simply embrace NVC and committing to nonviolence. Yet most of us simply don't have the time to distance ourselves from our everyday lives, as we're too busy just keeping things going. And we're way too used to seeing and living with inequality and structural violence; we believe far too deeply in the myth of redemptive violence and sanctity of property; and we're too inclined to believe that there are good reasons for the way the world works today, and to trust others, to seriously challenge the institutions and education that structure our lives, and which we contribute to in our roles as citizens, consumers and people who must work to 'make a living'. So I figured I'd try to lend a hand, by talking about why and how we might (want to) organize ourselves differently, by talking about how meritocratic thinking currently informs and shapes our actions, and encourages us to treat different people differently.
I've found that listening to the course I've linked to below a very good way of acquainting myself with NVC, while simultaneously providing me with some peace of mind and hope, as it provides me with both concrete suggestions as to what to try to do differently, and an insight into how other people work. That said, it's taken me a while to figure out how to integrate these insights, especially with respect to advocacy. And since I expect this will be true for most people, I would encourage you to start listening and applying the insights Rosenberg provides sooner rather than later. Once you have gotten a feel for that, I hope that my other posts can provide folks with other food for thought, and reconsideration. Thank you for visiting, and your interest. :)
PS: If any of the parts are removed, please leave a message, and I'll try to update the links.
This intermediate-level course is also quite helpful:
Also useful as a first introduction: this three-hour SF Workshop.