“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
It Seems Pretty Dark
Last February, in an article for the Federated Community Church in Flagstaff, I wrote these words:
While the threads that unify us have always been tenuous, our current political climate has established historic lows in civility and compassion in our public discourse. More times than I would like, rather than choosing language that weaves our seemingly disparate threads of being together, people across the political spectrum have chosen statements and actions that threaten to rend our garment entirely.
Astoundingly, things have gotten worse in the last 12 months. As you are probably aware, last Thursday the President reportedly shared language not suitable for this blog in reference to several countries in Latin American and Africa. Though his word triggered an uproar, it was only marginally different that than language he’s used since his campaign began. Are we, as a culture, becoming inured to the language and judgment streaming off the President’s Twitter feed. Is there any end to how low he will go?
And We ALWAYS Have Access to the Light
In my February, 2017 article I also wrote these words:
I believe the actions we take in our personal relationships influence, and are influenced by, the larger political environment we inhabit. We have the power to resist the tide of divisiveness by choosing words and actions that close the gaps between us.
Let me repeat, “We have the power to resist the tide of divisiveness by choosing words and actions that close the gaps between us.” Compassionate Communication converts this potential energy into action by giving us ways to bring compassion into our own lives and into the lives of others.
The skill of self-empathy converts the energy of self-blame and self-judgment into self-acceptance and self-understanding. In a very real way, practicing self-empathy allows us to see through the darkness to see the light (in the form of our Universal Needs) motivating all that we do. Connecting with our needs leads us into strategies that can meet them.
Empathy for others gives us a window into the light that drives all behavior. When I am able to shift from seeing someone as an object to acknowledging their humanity using empathy, I create possibilities for relationship and growth.
The skill of Honesty provides a means to express our truth in ways that can be heard and share our vulnerability.
Bringing these three skills together in conversation creates a space of mutual understanding leading to actions that work for everyone.
Can our World Work for Everyone?
What if everyone had access to the light and love of which Dr. King speaks? Is it possible for our world to work for everyone?
I’d end with words from Miki Kashtan, one of the foremost voice of the Nonviolent Communication Movement whose words have guided and inspired my work. in her book, Reweaving our Human Fabric, she envisions a world organized around human needs that does work for all people. In it she writes:
If we truly embraced human needs as the primary organizing principle, then we would radically change the way we treat each other and our children. No one would be controlled, manipulated, coerced, shamed, or guilt-tripped. we would trust that nurturing all of our needs and supporting each other in fulfilling our dreams would lead to peaceful sharing of resources and to productive use of conflicts…Under such conditions, human beings can grow up to be people who are able to balance their well-being with that of others and of the planet spontaneously and gracefully. Imagine what that would be like. If it were possible, wouldn’t you love to live in a world where all of us embrace giving without receiving and receiving without giving?