SESSION TITLE: NVC in war-torn contexts
Convenor: Jeyanthy Siva
Recorder: John Abbe
Others present: about 10-12 people total (including Paulette Pierce, Marion
Scarborough, John Kinyon, Isabella Huebner, Ruby Phillips, John Cunningham,
Gina Lawrie, Renea Newbeck and at least one other whom I regret not remembering
the names of)
Heavy conflict is also an opportunity for powerful learning
In check-in, people talked about their knowledge of and/or connection to conflicts in Rwanda/Burundi, the United States (specifically black-white relations), Sierra Leone, and Sri Lanka
What do we do with how much people's need for honor and respect has been met by violence?
There is power (one person described a personal experience) in apology. So there was some disappointed when it was thought that NVC's "no right or wrong" meant no apologizing.
In any case, there is great need for the huge scale of pain, and power differences to be seen. Is empathy not enough to help this be seen?
At this point, one person noticed that another had tried to speak a couple of times and let go of it, perhaps unwillingly. We agreed to allow a few seconds gap between people speaking to meet the need for inclusion.
Back to content-
Isabella, who has experience teaching people about doing non-violent action (which she said was easier than actually doing non-violent action), offered that movement in entrenched conflicts takes a lot of patience & time, and gave one example of someone who spent a year listening to people on both 'sides' of a conflict, for their stories to be fully heard, until they got curious on their own to here the others' story
Healing first (don't be attached to outcome) reconciliation later
Paulette (who teaches African-American and African Studies) asks, how can we listen to black people's outrage in a way that does not lead only to increased outrage and making white people wrong?
Marion Scarborough(?) suggested that having a partnership model in how we teach is as important as what is taught.
Paulette brought our attention to what Carol had said on the first day of the convention-teachers could spend a lot less time on war-related events and developments of history, and a lot more time on peace-oriented events and developments [aka, You can change history]
And again, how do we provide an attractive alternative to violence/revenge?
Gina and John recreated a story that Marshall tells about a guy in prison who spent every day thinking about killing the guy who put him in there. Marshall offered to show him something sweeter than revenge, and role-played what he could do-dogging very hard for the guy to hear what he had been through, particularly the pain of being hurt by someone he had helped so much, and carrying the anger and hatred that he had carried.
While this was somewhat moving, there was something insufficient about it. We identified this as the shame that goes with having black people's honor and self-respect not being met by the history of slavery, and remaining inequalities today. A lot of empathy for those in shame is needed.
Keep the questioning alive; NVC by itself is not the answer.
Gratitudes for the power of what happened, and some connections made.