I write this post in my role as Executive Director of the Center for Nonviolent Communication. It is a call to action from me personally. It doesn't necessarily represent anyone else's views and I am unashamedly exploiting my position by sharing this message. I hope you will read it through and support my plea....if not please tell me, directly to me, what about this message does not work for you?
For as long as I can remember, black and minority communities have been asking for support in meeting needs for equality and fairness. They have asked over and over again, both loudly and quietly, and mostly patiently. They ask because, if we are to call ourselves a just society, there is a power imbalance to address. I've experienced this power imbalance first hand in communities I have served.
Serving those communities over the last 20 years, I notice that when a person goes unheard for trying to talk about the injury, loss or harm they are experiencing, they will eventually take steps to be heard. And, when other people go unheard for the same reason, they will join in. We even have mechanisms for people to get heard which we call Civil Disobedience and Nonviolent Protest. The aim of such action is disruption. And the aim of the disruption is to stop things from carrying on as if there isn't a problem.
An empathic and intelligent society treats these mechanisms as an alarm call intended to wake us up to a problem to be addressed and that might not affect me directly today but may, in the bigger picture of mutuality and interdependence, affect us all in the future. This empathy and intelligence triggers the dialogues needed to begin a process of change through choice because change is inevitable as part of being alive.
I've also come to notice that, in our punishment and reward driven society, dialogue takes time and requires a lot of skill. Skills that not many people with the power of enforcement have been taught as a balanced part of their tool kit. Yet, in my experience, once learned, these skills are often enjoyed and practised with enthusiasm.
Nonviolent Communication provides this skill.
I have two requests of those of us who are skilled in Nonviolent Communication:
First, that we take steps to actively wake up people who have influence over the necessity of change with the possibility of dialogue being the least painful change agent
Secondly, that we publicly offer Nonviolent Communication as a way towards dialogue.
If we take some responsibility to have the conversations, it's possible that black and minority communities might want to join in if they can see something genuine and authentic taking place.
Executive Director, CNVC