When I see that someone clicked on one of the links I put into these posts I get so excited! (I can track that stuff you know…mwhahahaha). Thank you, three people, for clicking on a link! No, I can’t tell who clicked, but I wouldn’t want to know. I just hope I’m influencing anyone in anyway to learn more about anything in the range of stuff I’m talking about.That’s all we can keep doing is learning, always learning. New solutions emerge all the time for problems. And by emerge I mean invented, discovered, tried.
Why don’t we just try something new? Just fucking try it! People get so set in their ways and that is the antithesis to progress, personally and socially. How many discoveries have had to be made to get us to where we are right now? How many systems have been tried and found to be faulty before we came up with our current one (and I guess by current one I am referring to the United States and our model of capitalism and free market. Because I will be the first person to admit that our country is….well, was, great. I think it was around the 70s that the America that I hear talked about as the “best in the world” really started to tank, for a lot of reasons. And this system has done us pretty well. It had made us prosperous and proud and the beacon of freedom. For our ancestors it was the best place in the world. I am not in any way denying that. My father always says “this is the greatest country in the world.” I can’t say that, but I can agree it did used to be up there.
The problem is, we are stuck. We are stuck in a traditional mode of society and this traditional mode can’t meet the needs of the people anymore. It’s not that it’s “bad,” it just doesn’t work anymore. It’s outdated. It’s important not to label things as “bad” or “good” when trying meet people’s needs. (And that was just a sweet-ass segue into what this post is supposed to be about(!): non-violent communication. I listened to a couple of internet radio broadcasts from Zeitgeist: Moving Inward that featured the system of communication created by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. Dr. Rosenberg is the founder of The Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC), a global organization whose vision is a world where all people are getting their needs met and resolving their conflicts peacefully.
The basis for this new system of communication stemmed from Dr. Marshall’s observance of our current mode of communication. We currently operate in a language (and system) of dominance. We are educated to be obedient to an authority. We are schooled to do this, do that, learn this, learn that, take this test, if you don’t pass you suck. And in that sense, we are told “you are bad” or “you are good.” “You are smart” or “you are dumb.” The key phrase is you are. When we assign a value to a person or thing or idea, we put them into categories. We judge. All day long we are constantly making judgements about rightness, wrongness, coolness, lameness, worthiness, etc.
What Dr. Marshall proposes is a system of communication where we break free of the arbitrary judgements of things, people and ideas. Instead we should focus on the idea of things, people and ideas meeting our needs. And by needs, I mean needs of affection, nurturing, growth and sustainability. I don’t mean, “can this person meet my needs of doing my work for less money?”
When we need something from someone, we should form our need as a request. Instead of demands, wherein we are inherently criticizing the other person for doing something wrong, we make requests based on the idea that our needs aren’t being met. Perfect example – the other night my husband was doing something that was driving me crazy. At first I was like “You really have to stop doing that, it’s driving me crazy.” That didn’t go over that well. Then I thought I’d try this “needs” thang. So I said “honey, when I ask you to stop doing this, it means I need it. I wouldn’t ask you to stop if I really didn’t need you to.” He said “okay” and I went to bed. Lo and behold, the next day my man bought me flowers! (He’s a freaking gem by the way.)
In the current language of dominance our system uses, we constantly feel that we have no choice in our lives. How many times have you said “I was following orders”; or “there was nothing I could do, it wasn’t my responsibility”; or “it’s company policy.” This language absolves us of responsibility and our only choice is to do the authority’s bidding and then bitch about it. I think bitching should be labeled as the new American pass time. And I’m totally including myself in this. I’m really trying not to, but it’s hard. How many damn things can we all bitch about? The roads, the drivers, the T, the government, the SYSTEM. But the very minute that someone says then maybe you should work to change it, people retreat into their shells. No one wants to do the positive thing. If you do talk about that, you may be looked upon as naive, too optimistic, annoying, too earnest, or not a realist. People “don’t want to rock the boat.” Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the boat is gonna be rocking a hell of a lot more than it is now. And soon. That’s not dooms-daying, that’s facts. Our system physically and logically cannot sustain our way of life much longer. We see the evidence for this every day. Now maybe some of you want to throw your hands up and say, well if that’s the way it is, then I’ll see ya on the flip side. Well, I say fuck that. I say, what about your kids, what about humanity? Don’t you have just some little something inside you that wants to just try?
Or maybe you ARE doing positive things. You are part of a great non profit, you volunteer, you give money. Awesome! Dr. Marshall gave this great analogy (that may have come from someone else, I don’t remember exactly). But he said “Imagine you are on the bank of a river and you look down and you see a baby floating down the river! It’s still alive, but barely. So, you wade in and you rescue the child and bring it to shore. Then you look down into the river and there’s two more babies! You see a person on the other side of the river and you say ‘Hey! Help me rescue these babies!’ So the person starts helping you. You both wade in and rescue those babies. But you look again and there’s two more! The question is, at what point does one of you go upstream and see who’s throwing the babies in?”
It’s a powerful analogy. At what point do some of us start working to stop the cause of the atrocities that our non profits and charities are working so hard to overcome? We must do both at the same time. The Occupy movement is just the beginning of this. This movement is a real agent of change that can only get more powerful as more parts of the system collapse. And it’s the alternative to what will happen when the system collapses and the government decides to invoke a military state. Not possible, you say? Not here! Not in the U.S.! Well, there’s a law coming up to Obama’s desk right now that has already been passed by Congress called The National Defence Authorization Act which would allow the U.S. government to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely without trial if they are “suspected of terrorism” (basically nullifying the 4th amendment. Here is an article by PBS on the subject). Now, do NOT get me wrong, I am not “for the terrorists” nor do I support anything remotely like that. But when you have Fox news calling the Occupiers terrorists, how far of a leap is it that the government might arrest those that are Occupying and accuse them of terrorism and detain them without a trial indefinitely? It was during the Bush administration and after 9/11 that if you spoke against the government or their actions you were deemed a possible threat and non patriotic.
To me, this is utterly baffling. We are supposed to be a “free country” and now some politicians are invoking that very same freedom as an excuse to put our citizens in jail—”we must be able to enforce this in order to remain free.” It’s a twisted game of words and ideology and if it keeps going the way it is, we all will much sorrier than we are now.