Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Truth of Kindness

 If I could tell the whole world one thing today, it would be that honesty and kindness are in no way in opposition to each other. Not at all. Anything that is unkind can also not be true. Anything that is true cannot be unkind.

Why do I believe this, when I live in a culture where people use phrases like "I'm just being honest" after calling someone a bitch? Well, its mostly because of my exploration of a process called Nonviolent Communication, or Compassionate Communication. This philosophy, developed by Marshall Rosenberg, teaches that the only statements we can make with any strong degree of certainty are descriptions of our internal world. This is known as what is alive in us.

While judgments are always open to interpretation, I alone know what is going on inside of me at any moment (if I am self-connected that is, but that is another story). If I say that you're an idiot, we may start arguing about whether that's true. Chances are you'll only agree if you have insufficient quantities of self-worth, or have reached enlightenment and therefore embrace every quality or characteristic equally. If I say instead that I feel frustrated when I see that you've left the ice cream out on the counter, because I'm wanting cleanliness and also to enjoy the ice cream in a slightly less viscous state, you are a lot more likely to understand what's going on with me.

This approach can be taken in the political realm too. It is not very kind of us to say that Obama is a lying two-faced bastard of a pawn who might as well be Bush in a mask, even if we think it is true. This thought is really speaking to how deeply the thinker may want to live in a world where everyone is safe, where we resolve our conflicts peacefully, and people have the ability to speak and travel freely without fear of losing their physical freedom. As Rosenberg would say, judgments are superficial. We really start to move towards resolution when we identify the desire or need fueling the judgment. And the more intense the judgment, the more desperately we probably want whatever is behind it.

Awhile ago I was involved in a situation where someone called another person a dirtbag, and then tried to say this was 'true' because of the person's actions. I am disturbed and unsettled about this. If anyone can ever 'truly' be a dirtbag because of their actions, then that means you and I can too. But I know, and maybe you know too, that all of our actions are just us doing the best we can with what we know. Maybe if the speaker of these words knew better, they would connect to how deeply they are wanting safety, or respect, or whatever it is, rather than throwing around insults. Then they would express their truth, and it wouldn't take away from the ability to be kind whatsoever.

This idea is a pretty radical departure from many people's worldview, I know. Yet can you see the truth in it? Please share what this brings up for you below!

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