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nonviolence

May 24, 2010

The other day my thoughtful, beautiful, kind, perceptive, intelligent friend, Ivy, said to me, “The Tea Party is worthy of examination.  They have generated a lot of attention and support for their position.  They have demonstrated that  they are capable of creating change. Look, they got someone elected to congress last week.”  Huh?

Me, “The teabaggers are not worthy of examination.  They are employing post-Bushism tactics of arousing support with unmitigated negativity that includes the worst offenders to society:  fear, aggression, anger and racism.  Violence solves nothing.  They will self implode.  Their elected official’s libertarian policies fly in the face of the interests of their supporters.  Please don’t consider their techniques as an example for motivating change.  It’s not sustainable.”

Ivy made some concession as we had a quick laugh remembering “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.” 

Ivy suggests that nonviolence is a bankrupt philosophy.  Ouch.  I suggest that contributing violence to this world bankrupts society – violence in any form and at every level.    

I love Ivy.  We share a passion for a better earth, which is how we met, and often view solutions to a problem as if we were sitting on opposing sides of a seesaw.  Our relationship is special in that we often teeter between Ivy’s highly scientific and educated understanding of climate change (et al) and my intelligent yet heart centered, Hippie-ism response.  We are constantly learning from one another.  It’s beautiful.

I don’t know whether we resolved our differences on nonviolence.  I stand by my affections for it, as we discussed my most recent self challenge to study nonviolent communication.  I find myself here again and commit to learning more.  This examination begins of course with my own strengths and weaknesses, particularly the weaknesses.  In reflection, I recognize that calling members of the Tea Party “teabaggers” is an act of violence itself.  Violence is everywhere.  It’s in the words we choose, the paradigms we’ve learned and those we choose, it’s in the food we eat.  The scale is as huge  and complex as is the opportunity and path for growth. 

Another area where Ivy and I differ in opinion is on where to influence change.  Ivy envisions large scale organizational change.  Ivy has the tenacity to affect this change.  I really hope Ivy goes for it.  Ivy can do it.  I see Ivy struggle at the personal level, which is an interesting contrast, and where I’m the most effective.  Leading by example is comfortable to me because it’s the least intrusive to others.  I think of myself as quite passive, not in that I’m afraid to teach, but because it’s my preference to avoid conflict at almost any cost.  I know where I learned this behavior.  It’s an interesting paradigm.  What’s also interesting is that as often as Ivy and I disagree, not once have I felt defensive in debating our differences.

My first little nugget in this path to deepen my experience of nonviolence comes in the embracing that none of us are our worst behaviors.  It’s interesting to consider the reach of such truth, and how it challenges my relationship to conflict and communication.

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