Food matters for personal, public, and planetary well-being
Out beyond wrongdoing or rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.
Have you ever noticed how at a meal the conversation will suddenly grow quiet when someone mentions that he or she is vegetarian, vegan, omnivorous, or moving towards a plant-based diet? Perhaps, instead, someone declines to eat a certain item because of its environmental or human justice impact. If the conversation concerning food choices continues, there is often discomfort, passion, and sometimes anger and hurt feelings.
Perhaps you have been the one to be angry – at others for not listening well enough or for changing their food choices or for trying to change your choices. Perhaps you are angry with yourself for not speaking up when you thought you should have (or perhaps you spoke up too forcefully). Maybe you feel shame or guilt for not changing your behavior in a way that meets your needs for authentically living your values in the world. While promoting ethical eating, do you find that relationships hamper justice efforts?
Whatever your experience, there is no doubt that all of us could use coaching on how to speak peacefully and clearly about what is alive in us. We need to learn how to engage our heart’s desires and our mind’s understanding with others, especially those with whom we differ. We do this to grow in our own deep understanding of the inherent worth and dignity of every person and to become more effective activists for all beings.
What is Nonviolent Communication?
Nonviolent communication is a model for building peace in our daily conversations developed by Marshal Rosenberg. He has used this model for over 30 years in schools, in families, in social justice activities, and in international conflicts. This method offers great hope, for it offers both a way to speak our hearts and minds in peace and a way to achieve greater success in getting others to work with us and to even change their actions so as to meet our needs and the needs of the world’s species and habitats.
The Basic Steps of Compassionate Conversation
1. Describe what you observe without judgment
2. Say how you feel
3. Say your needs and tie them into your feelings
4. Make a request of concrete, doable actions
Is Nonviolent Communication for Me?
We all have had enough violence in our lives – in our homes, in our work places, and in the public sphere.
Nonviolent communication is a way to turn that around and nurture the well-being of all those with whom we come in contact – and most importantly, to bring compassion and peace into our own lives. It is a spiritual practice and way of healing the world and ourselves.
Those of us who believe in the inherent dignity and worth of every being naturally strive to embody this claim in action, thought, and word. We do this for peace in our minds, relationships, congregations, and communities. People of faith tend to be particularly drawn to practices that grow compassionate consciousness; for example, Unitarian Universalists covenanted together through the Creating Peace Statement of Conssciousness passed at their General Assembly 2010 to create peace by:
• developing Peace Teams to provide training in compassionate communication and conflict resolution, and to engage each congregation in multi-level action toward a culture of peace;
• working through our lifespan religious education structures to provide workshops on conflict resolution and compassionate communication...
• develop for ourselves and our congregations spiritual practices that cultivate inner peace;
Resources to Learn and Get Connected
NVC Training Organizations, Websites, and Resources
• NVC Academy: flexible online and teleconference trainings www.nvctraining.com
• Bay NVC: regular trainings in San Francisco area, frequent trainings throughout US www.baynvc.org
• Center for Nonviolent Communication: Varied trainings in US and internationally www.cnvc.org
Unitarian Universalist Resources
• UU Website for Nonviolent Communication: www.uuspeakpeace.org (lists congregational activities, UU trainers, and workshops)
• UU Peace Ministry Network for Peacemaking: http:// www.uupeacemakers.org/
• UU Statement of Consciousness "Creating Peace" 2010 http://www.uua.org/socialjustice/socialjustice/statements/13394.shtml
• UU Email list serve: http://lists.uua.org/mailman/listinfo/uu-speakingpeace where you can register to receive occasional emails from other UU’s practicing Compassionate Communication
• UU NVC Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CompassionateCommunication?v=wall
• UU Children Nonviolent Communication Curricula, Heart Talk: http://heartvistas.com