Every other month I offer an NVC Citizen Empathy evening when we share about politics and explore how to communicate and contribute more effectively. Many of us are trying to connect with neighbors, friends and family who have very different perspectives on politics. The following is an email I received from one of the participants after our post-January 6 meeting. I am sharing it because I find it inspiring. Perhaps you will too.
Good morning Bryn,
Every morning Dennis and I read from an inspiring book for 15 minutes then meditate for 15 minutes. Currently DJ is reading Marshall Rosenburg's book Speaking Peace in a World of Conflict. I am reading The Blue Zones of Happiness. After we meditate we read the daily passage from Mary McKenzie's Peaceful Living and another from The Daily Stoic. We often talk about what came up for us during meditation and/or what we thought of the daily passage reading. Today I could tell DJ was feeling sad about what is going on with our country so I asked him what he read. He said he felt sad, furious and scared about where we are in our country. He had read the page where Marshall described being called to do healing work for a woman from Algeria who had been raped and terrorized. In that moment, Dennis realized if Marshall can do the walk/talk with this woman, he can walk across the street and talk with our Republican neighbors. Since the Jan 6th attacks on our capital, he has been feeling the need to pull back from interacting with our Republican neighbors and that he's pretending that everything is "OK" when we do interact, when he's NOT feeling OK. SO after we talked today, he said "I'd like to go over and knock on their door and ask them if we could talk and ask them "how are you doing?" We talked a bit before and I shared with him our NVC conversation MON night and how he could try just listening, ask them "tell me more", listen more, "hold" them, see how powerful that might feel. What occurred was he was invited in (he wore his mask and did social distancing.) He started off telling him that he was feeling so scared, furious, sad and worried about where we are in our country and that he has felt a need for emotional separation from his neighbors due to these feelings. He then asked them "how are YOU doing?? How do you feel today about what's going on in our country?" They were able to have a conversation about how they were feeling about the country, their fears about losing the election by being stolen, fear of socialism and open borders etc. They could agree that our politics are different, we read different media sources so thus have different "truths" and can agree on needs for safety/lawful order and cooperation within government branches and gun control that is reasonable. The goal was to CONNECT, show that they matter to us as neighbors and the outcome was a comfort to learn that we are in agreement on some issues that we didn't know about. DJ felt respectfully listened to by them and he felt he did the same for them. Neither party tried to change the mind of the other or to speak "right and wrong". Dennis came home feeling relieved, lighter and much less sad. One house down, the rest of our small world to go; to talk and ask "how are you doing??" What can we do to work together and heal. THANK YOU SO much for the work that you do with NVC and being our guide. in gratitude, KRIS and DJ
I liked these steps they took: 1) Grounding themselves with readings and meditation; 2) Kris and DJ talked about the intentions of connecting and listening before he went to the neighbors; 3) Expressing his own emotions/needs before asking for his neighbor's; 4) Looking for the needs/values they shared as a connecting point; 5) Valuing the relationship of neighbors; 6) Trying to understand each other rather than to change each other. And I love Kris's "One house down, the rest of our small world to go."