We can't alone (nor with lone communities) transform the hidden structures of violence and domination. Dialogue alone isn't disruptive enough. We can easily be in dialogue with Trump supporters while the planet burns up, millions are still hungry, and we go extinct. NVC seriously risks reinforcing vast inequities and abuses if we're not radically engaging systemic constraints, and impacts of our choices that go beyond our immediate circle. Read on for ways to leverage NVC practices to expand true social change.
Little negative impacts can become big when left unattended. Watch for things like using a sharp tone, choosing not to share something, going along with something when you don’t really want to, trying to convince your partner, impulsively turning away, shrinking, losing access to parts of yourself, hiding, daydreaming about a different life, and judgmental thoughts. Instead, shift the dynamic: take responsibility, provide empathy, and commit to change.
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.
The “mind” or our “ego” are often depicted as a static entity, an unchangable part of human nature, and as obstacles or negative parts of ourselves to overcome. This view creates maligning, a split within us, while remaining invisibly part and parcel of authority-based societies --the dominant culture and institutions into which we are born. Instead, I want to advocate an integration of reason and emotion, mind and heart, plus self and others.
Given all that we are facing today as a society and a species, amongst some of the things we need is a well nourished heart. To nourish our hearts we need to discern where to wisely put our attention. Here are three practices to reclaim your attention, and replenish your reserves, so that you have the inner resources to do the work that is calling you. They are: train the mind, nourish the heart, and stay connected to purpose.
When we are transparent about our concerns, brainstorm solutions together, and look towards making a decision with the other person, we can increase understanding, partnership, and mutual support. This invites people to work on the same issue from the same direction, collaboratively seek solutions, and tap a deeper wisdom. In the end, the future survival of our species depends on this kind of active interdependence.
We're in difficult times - possibly at the brink of extinction. What can we do in response? Some nonlinear steps: A.) Notice what isn't working; B.) Mourn so that we can move "towards" from an expanded space inside; C.) Analyze to bring a fuller understanding of what's happening and what's needed; D.) Reframe our inner and outer narratives; E.) Discern what we can contribute; F.) Care; and G.) Bring in support for more resilience and creativity.
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.
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.