Creating peace, an Akashic Attribute
We can create peace with our questions and our language (a powerful Akashic attribute).
Nonviolent communicator Marshal Rosenberg and world peace advocator explains how.
Nonviolent communication – transcript
Q: In your 40 years of mediating conflicts between warring factions around the world, what’s the most important thing that you do that creates peace in between the people involved?
Marshall: First, I never hear what they think. See, I get called a lot of names by people who hear what I’m saying.
You’ve read my book, you probably can recall that I was in a refugee camp in Palestinian authority and all the crowd had to do was hear from my interpreter that I was an American and a gentleman jumps up and screams at me “Murderer!” and another gentleman shouts “Assassin!” and another one calls “Child Killer!”.
Within an hour the guy that calls me a murderer invites me to a Ramadan dinner at his house
I didn’t hear what he thought of me, I connected to what he was feeling, what he was needing.
As I walked into that refugee camp there were hundreds of tear gas grenades all over the lawn, shot in the night before when they had a riot there and on the side of each of the grenades was written ‘Made in USA’.
So, when this guy calls me a murderer hearing that I’m an American, I tried to hear what is the guy feeling, I said “Sir, are you furious?” and then I tried to hear his needs. “Are you needing a different kind of support from my country than you are getting?”
And he looks at me in a kind of a stunned way, apparently that’s not the way people respond to him usually when he screams at them
He said “You’re damn right, we don’t have sewage, we don’t have housing. Why are you sending these weapons?” So I said “Well, that makes it clear why you’d be so aggravated, if you don’t have these basics and you get these weapons sent over here I can see that your needs are for some other kind of support.
He said “You know what it’s like to live under these conditions for all these years?” I said “So you’d like me to understand just how desperate it can be even for one day, let alone for many years?”
So, I heard what was alive in the guy, not what he thought I was, a murderer. I didn’t say “I ain’t killed anybody!”. I tried to hear what was going on in him.
When he trusted that I sincerely cared what he was feeling, what he was needing he could start to hear me then when I said “Look, I’m frustrated right now ’cause I came a long way to be here, I wanna offer something, I’m worried now because you got me labeled as an American you ain’t gonna listen to me”.
He said to me “What do you want to say to us?” So he could hear me then.
And incidentally we have a non-violent refugee school in that refugee camp. Whenever I go to that region I am well received hospitably in that refugee camp but I had to see the human being behind the names that he was calling me.
Q: Being called a name is not the same as being violently attacked by terrorists. Do you feel that there is ever justification in using violence or aggression when responding to such an attack?
Marshall: Here I would say no to violence or aggression, yes to the protective use of force. There are times when we need to use the protective use of force. But never violence, and never punishment.
The protective use of force is necessary when another person for whatever reason is not willing to communicate
Meanwhile their actions are threatening our needs, so we need to take whatever action can be made to protect against that happening. But we can do that without violence.
Gene Sharpe’s writing show how throughout history show how people have protected themselves against violent armies coming against them through the protective use of force.
I was walking down a street in Paris about 4 years ago, a busy street and a woman was walking next to me, all of a sudden a man comes running up, spins her around and hits her right in the face and he starts with her again and there wasn’t time for me to talk with this man so I used force to restrain him from doing that again. I didn’t want to punish him, I didn’t beat him, but I had sufficient force that I could keep him from continuing.
So yes, sometimes you use force to prevent violence, but not in the form of punishment to make people suffer – because you have judged them as evil.
Q: But just talking to terrorists and to the governments that harbor them doesn’t seem to work either. Look at all the peace talks we’ve had and the violence just continues.
Well the kind of peace talks we have I’m not very optimistic that they can prevent violence
They’re not the kind of connections that get people connected withe each others humanness. They’re basically arguments where they try to find some compromise. We need to grow up and find out that there are far more powerful ways of having peace talks than the ones we now engage in.
Q: How would you engage these people in peace talks?
Pretty much as I told you I did with the tribes in Africa, or when I was doing a little mediation with a group of Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem, and I started that I said “Let’s look at what your needs are that are not getting met” and a Mochtar who was the mayor of the village, he looked across at the Israelis and said in a nice tone…
“Does it bother you people to be acting like Nazis?”
Then an Israeli woman jumps up and immediately says “I should have known better than to come to this meeting, that was a totally insensitive thing for you to say Mochtar!” and she starts for the door, she’s about to leave.
We’ve hardly had two sentences and people are already worse off than when we began. So, my role there was help each connect at the need level. So I said to the Mochtar and I knew what he was reacting to, he was reacting to a law that enabled people to be put in prison for 6 months on suspicion, he was reacting to that.
I said “Mochtar, are you needing some understanding of how your need for safety isn’t met with that law?” He said “That’s what I’m trying to say!” Well, of course, he didn’t say it exactly that way.
And then I helped the woman to hear that, and then it was a different connection than when she’s hearing she’s a Nazi.
And so that’s what I do in those cases, I help people speak a language of life which is closer to the truth. It’s what everybody needs.
And stay away from these enemy images that can easily sound like blame, criticism, attack.
Unfortunately most people aren’t taught the language that I’m suggesting, so I have to loan it to them when I do mediations at that level.
Q: Considering the amount of violence in the news, what do you say to those who describe your ideas as naive or Utopian?
I see a different world than the people probably do on the television and in the news.
For example, I see the violence, I work in the places with the violence, but what they don’t see are the people that I work with who have a different world view, they have a different consciousness, and these people are spreading their consciousness rapidly.
So these people are what give me the hope, and they’re not hard to find in every country. For example, Father Chris Rajendram, priest in Sri-Lanka, he’s doing incredible things there, using our training to get the both sides who’ve been at war to do reconciliation work, he has an orphanage of kids who have been orphaned by the war from both sides and he’s showing these kids now how to relate to each other in a different way, so in many countries now, I’m working in about 35 countries, I see that kind of person every day in my work, so I see a different world than people see on the television.
I’m not naive, I see the suffering
I was in a refugee camp not long ago in Sierra Leone, I was working with a French physician who was accompanying me on this trip and when the director of the refugee camp heard that she was a doctor he said “Would you come with me there’s this child that’s not very well?” and I followed her over and she was leaning over the child and the mother and I said “Pascal, what’s the matter?” she said “The baby is dying of starvation.” I said “What?” She said “The mother is dying of starvation”. And I turned to the refugee camp leader and I said “Why is this woman starving? Why is this child starving?” He said “Well, we lose 7 a day”.
So, I’ve seen this, I’m not naive, I know what’s going on, I’ve worked in Rwanda with people that have had everyone in their family killed, so I know what can happen in this world. But I’m working with people all over the world that tells me it doesn’t have to be that way.
There’s people who have survived all that never lost a consciousness that that isn’t what our nature is
There’s nothing we human beings like more than to contribute to one another’s well-being.