Dr. King, Love, and Nonviolence

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.

My dear friend Paris
My dear friend Paris

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.


Transitions and Nonviolence

It’s 6:30 AM on a Saturday.  The family is asleep.  I’m partially asleep.  The world is covered with snow from a late night flurry.  Or whatever you call it when snow falls.  Was it a storm?  Who knows.

It’s quiet in the way only an early morning with a fresh snow can be.

It’s been a hard few months.  The transition from California to the Midwest, from perfect weather every day to summer heat to winter cold,  from working in an office to being home with the kids, from being home with the kids to job hunting (because the cost of living actually went up out here), from spending all day with Cricket to sending her to daycare a couple of times each week (which I hate), has been tough.

My counselor back in California will tell you that I don’t do well with transitions.

And it’s true.  I don’t.  I don’t like them.  I’m tired all the time.  I feel disconnected from my friends back in California for whom life is moving on.  I feel defensive with my husband who seemed to forget what a horrible housekeeper I actually am.  I feel frustrated with the kids who certainly have their own agendas most of the time.  I feel sad that I am so caught up with the daily grind that I can’t seem to find time to make friends here, which in turn leaves me feeling isolated and lonely.  I feel attacked and criticized and sad.  The kids are fighting, my husband is pissed off at the kids, the dog is sick, and things are just generally not going well.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my friend Paris.  She’s a labor and deliver nurse, IBCLC, soon to be midwife, and someone I look up to.  She always knows how to say things just right.

She’s been talking for ages about this Nonviolent Communication thing.  I don’t know that much about it, but I guess it’s part of what helps Paris always know what to say when things get tough.

I haven’t wanted to learn more about it.  Wanting to learn more might be an admission that something is wrong with me.  It might mean that I’ve got a weakness and someone might take advantage of it.

Recently on a facebook group for moms that I moderate, some drama broke out.  There was gossip, backstabbing, and general nastiness.  A dear friend from grade school who is Muslim (you are in my heart every day Afifa) taught me that in Islam backbiting, talking nasty about people you pretend to be friends with, is one of the greatest sins.  That is something I have carried with me since 7th grade, and so when I started seeing that in the group, I started trying to shut it down.  There was a backlash, and in the end, I was so hurt by what happened subsequently that I ended up leaving the group.  A group I created.

So now it’s a double-down situation.  Learning more about Nonviolent Communication means that I may need to bear some responsibility for how things ended in that group when I feel completely victimized.

I ended up messaging Paris and very casually asking, “So if someone wanted to learn more about NVC, where would they start.”

Now, I’m here with three books all staring at me like accusing cats:  Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication Companion Workbook by Lucy Leu, Connecting Across Differences: A Guide to Compassionate, Nonviolent Communication By Jane Marantz Connor, Dian Killian

(By the way, here’s a link to the books in my Amazon Affiliate store. Purchases through here earn me a very small commission.)

I want to start reading these books, but I don’t want to admit that I want to start reading them.

Also, to be perfectly honest, I really stink at finishing non-fiction books.  There generally aren’t enough dragons in them to keep me interested.

But something needs to change.  I want a peaceful, happy home.  I don’t like feeling hurt and defensive all the time.

I’m tired of feeling sad.

Have any of you read these books?  Did you feel like your outlook and home life changed at all? Did they make a difference