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NVC: Gandhian Principles for Everyday Living (Part 3 of 7)
By Miki Kashtan

This is the third of a 7-part series that looks at the roots of NVC within Gandhi's explorations of nonviolence. The previous parts examined: (1) why the word nonviolence has a "negative" in it; and (2) how love and courage are essential for nonviolence.

 

The Third Principle: Seeing Others' Humanity

One translation of the word ahimsa refers to it as "the state of the heart which has no enemies." And, indeed, Gandhi worked tirelessly to maintain respectful, open, trusting relationships with everyone, regardless of how much he opposed the position, policies, and actions of whoever he was in struggle with.
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The No-Fault Zone Game Video is Here
From the desks of Meiji Stewart and Neill Gibson

Sura Hart and Victoria kindle Hodson, authors on The No-Fault Zone, have wanted to capture on video the enthusiasm and excitement they witness so often when people get their hands on The No-Fault Zone Game. Well, they did it!
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Inspiration
 

"We can make life miserable or wonderful for ourselves and others depending upon how we think and communicate."

- Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.

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World-renowned author, peacemaker, and conflict resolution expert, Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D. talks about the keys to prevent all forms of conflict and violence in this 10-minute video.

 
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Gandhian Principles... continued

He was uncompromising in this commitment. Here's the way one of his students described the regard Gandhi always held for his opponents: "It was not forgiveness, but whole-hearted acceptance by him of their standpoint as their truth which for the time being held the same place in their growth as his truth in his own, and thus entitled to equal respect." ( In Gandhiji's Mirror , p. 10)

As an extreme example, both of Gandhi's letters to Hitler were addressed to 'my friend.' In the second one, Gandhi starts by saying:

"Dear Friend, that I address you as a friend is no formality. I own no foes. My business in life has been for the past 33 years to enlist the friendship of the whole of humanity by befriending mankind irrespective of race, color or creed." (Letter in Ma ni Bhavan Museum, Mumbai)

Gandhi took explicit pleasure in maintaining this stance towards and with others:

"It is to me a matter of perennial satisfaction that I retain generally the affection and trust of those whose principles and policies I oppose.  In spite of my denunciation of British policy, I enjoy the affection of thousands of Englishmen. It is a triumph of non-violence." ( Everyman's , June 19 – The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi)

Honoring Others

Respectful consideration of opponents, an honoring of their humanity and their value, is a key element of nonviolence, not an accidental by-product. Gandhi expressed this value early on, and included it in his vision of society. Here's just one example:

"Let us honor our opponents for the same honesty of purpose and patriotic motives that we claim for ourselves." ( Everyman's , July 10 – Selections from Gandhi)

The practice of NVC follows in Gandhi's footsteps and provides practical steps for cultivating this capacity to see the humanity of each person. The practice is grounded in understanding everyone and every action, belief, and choice in terms of fundamental, core, human needs that are shared by everyone. No matter what action someone takes, there is a human need at the heart of the choice - a dream, a vision, which could be universally understood and usually shared.

The practice of NVC takes a step beyond distinguishing between the action and the person. To see the full humanity of others, we also distinguish between the action and the shared human needs underlying the action. To return to the extreme example, even Hitler had a vision he was working towards and which he articulated. What could be his needs? I imagine something along the lines of the purity, elegance, and clarity that come from being with people similar to us.

This image can strike a chord in many if not most of us. I can easily see, and often experience, being only with people similar to us as one strategy for the human needs to belong, to have ease in relating, and to have a sense of meaning and connection. Seeing this, I can resonate with Hitler's underlying needs, and thus make human sense of Hitler despite of and independently of his actions. (1*)

Connect With the Humanity

No matter how abhorrent others' actions can be for us, Gandhi urged us to see and connect with their fundamental humanity. In the NVC practice, we do this by reaching for and connecting with the underlying needs. One of the core practices that serious NVC practitioners employ on a regular basis is what is known as Transforming Enemy Images . I offer an example of this practice here to support those who want a deeper understanding of what studying NVC may entail:

Practice Worksheet: Transforming Judgments and Enemy Images

The next segment of this 7-part series explores the 4th principle that NVC shares with Ghandian nonviolence. With the love, courage, and openness to others' humanity comes the strategic power of appealing to that humanity instead of arguing, fighting, or overpowering others.

The complete bibliography for the series can be found online at NVC Gandhian Principles Bibliography.

(1*) The issue of why acting on these needs would take the form of such unimaginable actions is beyond the scope of this article. I believe anyone interested in exploring further the roots of violence could benefit enormously from James Gilligan's book Violence: Our Deadly Epidemic and Its Causes . Gilligan discusses, in particular, the role of shame in leading to violence and cruelty.

Miki Kashtan is a co-founder of Bay Area Nonviolent Communication. She leads workshops and intensive retreats in Nonviolent Communication throughout the United States and in Japan, Europe, Brazil, and Africa, and offers mediation, meeting facilitation, coaching, and training for organizations. Miki hosts the Conflict Hotline, a monthly live call-in TV show, and blogs regularly at The Fearless Heart . She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Berkeley and her articles have appeared in Tikkun magazine and elsewhere.

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The No-Fault Zone, continued

They are especially excited about how the game, originally developed for the classroom, has become such a valuable tool for both interpersonal and business communication as well.

View this short (2.5 minute) No-Fault Zone Game video and learn how people are using the game in various situations to guide conversations toward more clarity & understanding and to create a safe space for finding resolution to conflicts.

View the Video Here

You can see it here on their website: www.TheNoFaultZone.com

The authors would love hearing your responses to the video. You can either use their website Contact Form:
www.thenofaultzone.com/contact.html

Or even better, you can leave a comment for the video on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1P1xKkB7kKA

Thank you for sharing their celebration!


 

Hart - Hodson Book Package

Hart - Hodson Package
3-Title Package - Sura Hart &
Victoria Kindle Hodson

Product details
List Price: $60.85
Your Price: $24.00

Save 60% off list price
through April 30, 2011


Add to Cart