“There are people whose devotion is less to changing lives for people who need help than showing that they understand that racism and especially systemic racism exists.” — McWhorter
In 2021 I had an experience of social cancelling, discrimination, and prolongued frustrating incapacity to connect to a person I worked with closely for 7 years. This person blamed me for being unwilling to become aware of social power structures and their impact — which is the best I can tell — and called me out on this within a small NVC community, that had been together intimately for many years.
I wanted to re-connect, to find a place for authenticity and understanding between the two of us.
I tried for about a year, feeling intense contact with unmet needs such as belonging, care, openness and respect. I tried many creative strategies, to no avail.
My assessor — the person I work with closely in that process of certification — understood what my experience was and also did not get past a big NO from that other person, who also serves as assessor. My conflict partner also let all of us know, that she was involved in talks “at the CNVC” — I believe it. Someone well connected. And I see a paradigm shift in the CNVC — that is quite puzzling to me — that loses touch with the fundamentals of NVC as shared by Marshall Rosenberg.
Previously, I had seen on a number of occassions certified trainers and assessors in conflict, unable to solve those conflicts. A jackal comes up readily, saying — why? If they teach communication — why can they not handle their own conflicts? Well … I am okay with seeing this as a sign of our vulnerability on heart level — this brings up incredible deep forces and sometimes we cannot find a way to connect. But … to be in that position myself, with a person I trusted deeply, that really made a difference for me in terms of wanting to be part of a community.
So I did my best, I put a lot or inner and outer resources to overcoming the obstacle — NO.
There seems to be deep fear involved, a huge wall of protection, protecting something like life itself.
I don’t know.
I do not want to move into a house, when I know that there is a person not respecting my needs. They may well think that they respect my needs, but the impact on me is what I trust for myself. I would like to live with an open and free heart, able to trust those around me and for them to be able to trust me too.
I also noted that some core concepts of nonviolent communication as I understand Marshall Rosenberg are undergoing change and new concepts I consider to be jackals are added. So the disconnecting experience in a small group of beloved practitioners fits into a larger change in our NVC community.
I heard assessors talk about the myth of neutral observation. For me a neutral observation is not a myth. It is what occurs, when I can find a neutral language to describe something available through my senses or a thought (quoting it) — non-judgmental description. That may not be simple to do, as we human produce judgments at the speed of light. It requires stopping and mindfulness, perhaps transformation of judgments. So that is one thing I certainly do not wish to change for my understanding of NVC. I am happy to do things differently from Marshall. Sure. But only if it makes sense to me.
Secondly, the critical race theory, has blossemed into the current cancel culture, the woke culture — where people can be ousted from their positions at universities or in job positions or as public figures for saying something that is taken as racist, discriminating, abusive or politically unacceptable. Books such as “Exit Racism” are a collection of new social research mostly from the USA, probably with the intention to contribute to a more inclusive society. As they are written in jackal, the opposite result will likely be the outcome.
Now this phenomenon — the woke culture I would call if for short — has arrived in the CNVC — I saw trainer wear a T‑shirt — Black lives matter. Well, these words led to another movement — All lives matter. From my point of view, both are jackal statements, in that they lack the clarity of who is sharing their truth here. All truth is subjective.
Black lives matter to me. For example.
People can easily hear the message like this: Black lives matter! And white lives do not.
Same for terms such as — people of color. Some rationale might be in there, that works for some people. Many others are irritated. Who am I, when I am Asian? White or not white? And do I want to be called a person of color? And is there an implicit blame against white people — why are they not included in the colors?
The whole idea is very much a North-American product. In Uganda, for example, different groups of black people hold more or less power and it is not based on a different color. The same for the former Soviet Union, where mostly white people lived and the education started with underscoring brotherhood and sisterhood for all from the start. Racism in that world would work only if applied to the group of capitalists and whover is defined as an enemy of the people. And how about China or India? As I hear from one of my best friends, who grew up there — India at this moment is at scale 8 from 10 on the path of genocide. Here the divide is along religious groups.
What is happening? Man’s animosity for man.
I like these words, which I heard Martin Luther King say in his preaching — Love your enemy. Intense emotions rise and we cannot handle them for ourselves, so we create enemy images. The more painful our emotions in the guise of enemies, the more we do not want to feel our feelings, the more dangerous it becomes for other human beings. Marshall would probably say — Killing them is not enough. Because those emotions are inside of us, we need to learn how to take care of ourselves, with the help of others perhaps, but we need to learn how to take care of those challenging emotions. Accept and embrace them, own them.
As of 2022 the concept of privilege is included in the certification package. I do not want to invest energy at this point in discussion with people about this — I may change my opinion — right now I do not wish to do it.
All in all — Marshall died in 2016 — and the world has changed a lot since then. Donald Trump has had a permanent almost daily trigger line to many many people, using the tactics of blame and shame, punishment and reward — watering the seeds of anger, hatred, fear and greed. The Floyd case has traumatized so many over a video in the media, that has been multiplied one million times, watering the seeds of anger, hatred and fear as well. We have seen escalating violence world wide in the hearts of human beings, on the part of goverments. The CNVC has also seen inner splits — with trainers like me — more traditional — and those who are inspired by the social research mentioned above.
The linguistic professor McWorther sees the current political development on the political left as a new kind of religion, for the denial of traditional values from science that he sees in it. It is based on core beliefs, beliefs of a system, that is made to exploit people and it is white men who are sitting at the top of it.
Intersectionality is an analytical framework for understanding how aspects of a person’s social and political identities combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege. The term was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. Intersectionality identifies multiple factors of advantage and disadvantage. Examples of these factors include gender, caste, sex, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, religion, disability, weight, physical appearance, and height.These intersecting and overlapping social identities may be both empowering and oppressing. (from Wikipedia)
So in this theory an individual is viewed not as a wondrous human soul, approached with an open heart and mind, but through the filter of identities — starting with male or female.
I have no idea what it means to be male or female — I would like to ask in the here and the now. Seeing ourselves as separate is an illusion — how can we be male or female alone? We have two parents and our parents have two parents — who is male and who is female? And why? Is it even defined in a physical sense, what gender means — let alone in a felt sense? Role models like John Wayne — Marshall kept a picture of this Hollywood star in his office, where he had multiple arrows in his upper body and says: “It just hurts when I laugh.” — are just offering us a dead template, to which we can compare ourself or to which we can aspire.
Furthermore — any construction with the verb “to be” — is fundamentally violent, trying to freeze something that is utterly dynamic, a constant flow — life. I am X or Y — You are X or Y — Marshall was very clear on that. How is it that this insight seems to have vanished from NVC circles?
I will stop here for the moment and finish this article later.