Can the Social Order Be Transformed through Personal Practice? The Case of Nonviolent Communication - Part 1 of 2
By focusing on NVC process and practice without factoring in the interdependent, systemic dimension we unwittingly diminish the power of NVC. We reinforce the dominant paradigm, rather than challenging it -- making NVC one more tool for compliance. NVC principles can turn against its own purpose in cruel ways. NVC could also empower social change. We'll need our attention on this matter if we are to contribute to transforming the oppression we face and our collective march towards extinction.
We can see throughout many examples in history that when we look for "who" is at fault, and thereby seek social change through shaming that person (or that group), it tends to lead to disastrous long term consequences. Even if it works in the short term. Instead, if we want to end cycles of violence we can seek to understand systemic causes and context of individuals' behaviour. And from there, look for solutions that stem from this understanding.
Unless we change our collective ways on the planet, we will one day exceed the earth’s carrying capacity. We can only address the planet's very real limits of physical resources at the level of social organization. To operate empathically is to adjust our collective social order and patterns so that resources are more widely available and everyone's needs are met no matter what their output, income, power, circumstances, etc. Can we envision a future where the system is infused with this level of empathy, before it's too late?
How do we address historical and present challenges regarding the invisibility of privilege and power? What can we do, especially if we are people with privilege, to transform these conditions? However challenging these kinds of situations are, and whatever our position, we can move towards more inclusivity by learning and doing significant inner and outer work.
In groups, relationships and society we may not want to dominate or take away from others’ access to power, to choice, to participation in decisions, nor to shaping the vision and direction of the dynamic. And yet how do we do it anyway without knowing it? Discover how privilege operates on a societal level and becomes so invisible in groups. Learn why the conversation is usually excruciating for members of both privileged and under privileged.
There's the real need. And then there's the privilege that’s offered as a substitute for it. Privilege substitutes support the existing structure of society. It can look to us as if giving up the privilege would amount to giving up everything -- if we don't believe the real needs can even be experienced. If we connected directly to the needs, we could become subversive, agents of change.
Why does NVC practice, and NVC training/coaching, appear to be not enough to bridge divides between people? This article takes a look at the trickle down effect of our societal conditioning, what we can add to our NVC lense, and what we can do "upstream" when NVC doesn't seem to be enough. Additionally, the article talks about unseen constraints that men, women and minority groups face in organizational settings...
When does identifying our or others' needs become a coping mechanism that hides the real problems that go unaddressed, and thereby reinforcing problems? This article zooms out to take a look at how dealing with our needs in the absence of the larger picture can inadvertertly support unhealthy ways of operating, rather than become a healthy solution. It asks us to see what could be hidden -- both on the personal and societal levels.