Combining the Power of Youth, Family and Compassion
Student travels to Thailand as a youth leader of the first NVC Family Camp Asia
While most Concordia students probably spent their reading week relaxing at home, Monica
Thom spent that time working as a youth realm leader in Chiang Mai, Thailand. For two weeks, the communications and cultural studies student held compassionate communication workshops for a group of 18 Chinese children who, along with their parents, were the first-ever NVC Family Camp Asia participants.
“The main goal, for me, was just to role model,” Thom said about
being a youth realm leader. “It wasn’t to teach, it wasn’t to impose upon these kids the idea of compassionate communication. It was to offer a demonstration of something different.” The purpose of NVC (Non-Violent Communication) Family Camp, Thom explained, is to get in touch with your feelings and needs, as well as those of others, and to develop strategies to respect both. These strategies can be learned through compassionate communication. “Whether you are in conflict or in harmony, there’s
always a way to meet everyone’s needs without compromising the other,” she said.
The camps are divided into realms, Thom explained. The adult realm, for example, teaches parents the methodology for compassionate communication. While the parents receive that training, the kids are busy with crafts and games that incorporate compassionate communication as part of the
youth realm. “It’s not a direct teaching,” Thom said. Since the camps take place outside, she added, “it’s a more natural environment, which is supposed to encourage a more natural state of being, thinking and not being stimulated by outside forces.”
Nonviolence Is Taking Responsibility for the Whole
Many years ago, just as I was beginning to explore nonviolence, the prime minister of the country I am originally from, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated by an ultra-right wing young man, Yigal Amir. Within hours, while talking with a supportive friend, I experienced the most unexpected feeling I could imagine: I felt compassion for God, in
whose existence I don’t even believe! It was visceral and simple: a wave of tenderness washed over me when I recognized that in that moment God had the excruciating task of loving Yigal Amir, the assassin.
The task of opening our hearts to everyone, including those whose actions we see as dangerous and harmful, is at the root of embracing nonviolence. Oftentimes,
it’s far easier to embrace nonviolence in action—doing no harm on the material plane—than it is to embrace nonviolence in word. It is, again, easier to embrace nonviolence in word than in thought. Yet, as Gandhi showed us, nonviolence reaches its fullest expression when it’s practiced at all three levels: thought, word, and action.
Similarly, many of us who
choose nonviolence as a path of activism find it easier to practice nonviolence on the streets, in campaigns, and in other dramatic settings rather than to embrace nonviolence as a way of life that guides our every move.
No Argument About Fair Play Home Guards to Be Given Sessions on 'Non-Violent Conflict Resolution'
"When non-violence is accepted as the law of life, it must pervade the whole being and not be applied to isolated acts," Mahatma Gandhi had said.
As part of an initiative to promote Gandhian values, over 4,500 Delhi Home Guards will be given
an orientation on non-violent communication and non-violent conflict resolution in the national Capital. The programme, initiated by Gandhi Smriti and Gandhi Darshan, has included sessions to help give the citizens of Delhi a better policing experience.
Under the programme started in the Capital in January, two sessions have already been conducted where 120 home guards have been given training on resolving issues and communicating non-violently.
The objective of the programme is to work on an enhanced police-public co-operation, public participation in crime prevention and effect positive changes in
the public perception of the image of the police.
Even amid the national outcry about sex abuse and sexual harassment, very little is known about sex offenders or the treatments that best help them. Arguably the least understood
population of the criminal justice system, sex offenders are subject to some of the country’s most punitive sentencing laws and their incarceration, life after prison and rehabilitation efforts are often misguided.
Two Salem people with decades of experience with offenders in professional and prison settings have written a riveting new book , SO, The New Scarlett Letters , that addresses the facts surrounding these offenders and also describes proven, successful rehabilitation practices.
Author Marilyn Callahan is an award-winning social worker who has treated male offenders for more than 50 years
and pioneered treatment for female sex offenders. Co-author Tim Buckley is a leader in the Oregon Prison Project, which since 2010 has been highly effective in training inmates in Nonviolent Communication to help them increase pro-social behavior and decrease aggressive behavior through the development of empathy.
When your dedication to something is fueled by a profound intention to benefit all life, you might call it your spiritual practice. The word practice here is very specific. In the context of
Mindful Compassionate Dialogue practice means cultivating the compassion, wisdom, and skills to continuously and subtly notice what truly serves life. This practice doesn't require you to adopt or set aside any beliefs about God, life after death, or the existent of immaterial beings, etc. But it does ask you to commit. You are
asked to commit to an experiment in learning, contemplation, and engagement, and notice exactly what happens. You are asked to inquire about what serves life and what doesn't - rather than take a stand on what you believe or don't believe.
Something happens when you don't ask yourself to decide what's true about reality, or what kind of person so and so is, or what kind of label you should apply to such and such group, or what the one "right" way is: you find freedom from the dense fog of bias and prejudice. Your mind turns away from
abstractions and towards life that is happening in the moment.
You find the freedom to engage with life fully and it is deeply fulfilling.
If you follow politics here in the States, then your spiritual practice is likely being tested. There are many spikey hooks trying to snare you into divisiveness. A mind caught in divisiveness asks the question "Who deserves to have their needs met and who doesn't?" Marshall Rosenberg called this the most violent question on the planet. While the language of fear is riddled with labels and pressure to choose sides, spiritual practice stays
steady on turbulent seas and continuously asks questions like, "What most deeply serves life and how can I do that right now?"
In any moment you can come back to these spiritual questions and get grounded in your intention. In a moment of hearing something on the news, you can do this. And in that very moment you have stayed with your spiritual practice. If you keep asking, wisdom will answer you. It's essential to listen closely, for even the smallest engagement is of value. You may not change entire systems with your moment of softening into your
heart and noticing what's happening, but this consistent practice will clear your mind and allow you to see the opportunity for big change when it comes.
Right now, what can you do that grounds you in your intention to benefit all life?