It seems appropriate that on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I was reflecting on love and nonviolence. Dr. King did, after all, reshape an entire country nonviolently because of his love for his fellow human beings and the tragedy of segregation that separated us and limited our ability to fully love one another as people.
I mentioned previously that I intend to start reading Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. Getting through the first few pages was a real struggle. When I read his words, I found myself thinking, “What about me? What about my needs? I’m not a doormat.” There were several times that I put the book down and just walked away after reading only a few paragraphs.
As I progressed (slowly) through the chapter though, my thoughts evolved from, “What about me?” to “Hmm, so I can use this to get people to do what I want?” And then I felt horrible because, really, doesn’t that seem pretty manipulative? And that’s not who I am at all.
But I stuck it out. As I got to the end of the chapter, the puzzle pieces began to fall into place and I realized what I am getting myself into. This isn’t a book to learn a different way of talking so you can move through life more easily. This is a complete shift in how you think, feel, and respond to others. This book isn’t about dealing with other people. It’s about inner change.
That scares me a little. I don’t want to lose who I am. In a lot of ways, I am a fighter. I’ve got a stubborn spirit, and I believe in standing up for what’s right even if that means ruffling some feathers. But then I think of my friend Paris who stands up for what’s right every single day and who inspired me to learn more about this whole nonviolent communication thing, and I go back to the quote I posted the other day from Dr. King:
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Paris truly loves the people around her. She surrounds herself with love. She doesn’t do it to get people around her to change. She just truly and honestly loves her fellow people. She manifests that love by reaching out and empowering other women to nurse their babies. Yes, really.
Look at it this way, what is a more basic act of love than nourishing a baby at the breast? When you do that, you are flooded with love hormones. It’s hard to be angry while you are nursing. And that place of love is where Paris builds a sisterhood. We are all sisters in motherhood. We all go share so many experiences. And there is a tremendous power to change the world when so many loving women come together. We gave birth to our babies. We feed them with our bodies. We are physical manifestations of the divine. We certainly can change the world with our love.
I am so grateful to count Paris among my friends. It is people like Paris and Dr. King and Gandhi and others who shape anger into love and create peaceful and lasting change.