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Miki Kashtan is a co-founder of Bay Area Nonviolent Communication (BayNVC) and Lead Collaboration Consultant at the Center for Efficient Collaboration. Miki aims to support visionary leadership and shape a livable future using collaborative tools based on the principles of Nonviolent Communication. She shares these tools through meeting facilitation, mediation, consulting, coaching, and training for organizations and committed individuals. Her latest book, The Highest Common Denominator: Using Convergent Facilitation to Reach Breakthrough Collaborative Decisions (2021) explores the practices and systems needed for a collaborative society. She is also the author of Reweaving Our Human Fabric: Working together to Create a Nonviolent Future, Spinning Threads of Radical Aliveness: Transcending the Legacy of Separation in Our Individual Lives, and The Little Book of Courageous Living. Miki blogs at The Fearless Heart and her articles have appeared in the New York Times ("Want Teamwork? Encourage Free Speech"), Tikkun, Waging Nonviolence, Shareable, Peace and Conflict, and elsewhere. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Berkeley.
Society gives us short-sighted explanations about human nature, life and what’s (un)changeable. The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting that explanation. Our current social order upholds impoverishment, police brutality, and is leading us towards our extinction. Change begins with people mobilizing resources towards a vision that holds systemic care for all, plus engages shared risk and collective action towards that vision.
When someone expresses upset about our actions, and we focus on our intention being seen and understood (e.g. "I didn’t mean to hurt you”) it doesn't support the speaker in being heard more deeply with care. Here we'll explore this dynamic in a way that supports more clarity and the possibility of greater personal liberation. Read on for more.
Human health is connected to health of ecosystems and other societies. Our wellness and liberation is found in our interconnection, kinship, reverence for life, and solidarity. Solidarity erodes through narratives, practices and policies that separate us from each other -- and this impacts societal functioning. The breakdown creates conditions for pandemic, racism, police brutality, exploitation in untold numbers, and extinction. Read on for how all is connected.
What do we actually mean by “use of force” and what counts as such? Here's a template that will be unpacked in this article: "Use of force is consistent with nonviolence to the extent that we use the least amount of force possible, with the most love possible, aiming at (re)creating conditions for dialogue; that we make the choice using as much nonreactive discernment as possible, with as much support for the choice as possible, and while mourning not seeing another way to respond to a situation in which vital needs are at stake except to use force". Read on for more.
Here's a brief anecdote showing how one woman was able transform a situation, where a man was about to assault or rape her. She responded in a creative way that lead them both to see each others' humanity -- navigating them both to safety. As part of her ingenuity he ended up spending the night in her house, in another room.
Within the pandemic, limitations of our market economies are more visible. Extreme need is exposed when the economy is collapsing and so many people are without jobs. We can now see how it’s possible to direct resources where they are most needed, solely out of care and interconnection. This is a call to explore a more viable way of living, that centers relationship over transaction.
This pandemic is an immense opportunity, and a dire catastrophe in the making. It’s a crisis within many planetary crises — during which, our habits as individuals, and as a collective, are challenged because they don’t sustain us. Now we are pushed to respond freshly and join forces in ways that seemed impossible before.
When something happens that we don't like no amount of resentment nor magical thinking will make it disappear. Instead, we can mourn to dissolve our own resistance, resentment, and numbness of resignation. Mourning can allow us to feel pain with acceptance, and without needing to be okay with what happened. Acceptance can bring us to a place where even all the anguish in the world is fully, part of life.
In order to bring in more nonviolence into the world, we need to take our own needs seriously and recognize that no amount of seeing someone’s innocence would mean putting up with more of their harmful behavior. We need to disentangle compassion towards another from the willingness to tolerate more harmful actions. At times this means finding enough self-love, support, or clarity, to take decisive action. Read on for more.
We can't alone (nor with lone communities) transform the hidden structures of violence and domination. Dialogue alone isn't disruptive enough. We can easily be in dialogue with Trump supporters while the planet burns up, millions are still hungry, and we go extinct. NVC seriously risks reinforcing vast inequities and abuses if we're not radically engaging systemic constraints, and impacts of our choices that go beyond our immediate circle. Read on for ways to leverage NVC practices to expand true social change.