Here’s to Friends

“Stay together friends. Our friendship is made of being awake… Stay here, quivering with each moment like a drop of mercury.” ~ Rumi

Dear Friends,

Last week, Peter and I watched a TV program of singers from the 60s. Some of the songs had a social message about war. Peter was very sad that things haven’t changed that much in terms of war and I was grief stricken. It’s easy for me to despair about the state of affairs. It would be easy to give up if I didn’t have the support and companionship of people who want to contribute to a better world. People who dare to believe that they can make a difference, and dare to risk that they probably won’t live long enough to see the outcomes they dream of. Eight years ago, at this time of the year, I witnessed the difference that
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) can make.

In 2002, I attended a Nonviolent Communication residential workshop in
Budapest. I had heard Marshall Rosenberg tell the story of a weeklong workshop he conducted with people from Serbia and Bosnia. He said that the first few days were filled with mutual accusations about the massacre and excruciating pain in most everyone. Then, as people began to understand one another’s feelings and needs through NVC, healing began to take place. By the end of the week, Serbians and Bosnians were singing each other’s songs and dancing each other’s dances. The prevailing feeling was joy, Marshall tells us. Well, at the training in
Budapest I met these folks! They were a very close-knit lot working together for peace. They were teaching NVC in schools in the Balkan countries and had taught THOUSANDS of children over the years. I can’t tell you how touched I feel when I think of them. There was also a man from Rwanda, whom I will name Jean Pierre, who lost several family members during the genocide, including a daughter. He, too, was working for peace and reconciliation in his country. Amazing. I have MANY more examples. At a fairly recent residential workshop on NVC and
Diversity, I saw African American and European American people cry and embrace.

I believe that even when two people from divided groups reconcile the impact on society is appreciable. For example, I did a workshop at an organization that employs thousands. A man whom I will call Jonathan said to me that because he connected with me during the workshop he had become very open to all Mexican people in his organization. “I now chat with [Mexican] folks on the hallway.” My guess is that the Mexican people with whom he now chats are more open to other European Americans. The latter experience increased openness from Mexicans and
they become more open themselves…

I am very happy to have witnessed over and over again that reconciliation, unity and peace are actually possible. Thank you for dreaming with me and for the work you do in your own families and communities. Knowing you, hearing your stories, gives me the strength to keep going.




About Institute for Empowering Communication

Co-founder of the Institute for Empowering Communication
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