Saturday, March 22, 2003 Meeting Notes

0. Check-in
1. Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication
2. Letter to J. Brady Kiesling
3. Announcements

Facilitator: Marilyn D.
Presenters: Elaine N. & Dorothy
Notes: Karen H.
Agenda: Sheila

Check-in: It was suggested we make our check-in "personal" rather than about the war.

Dorothy: has been spending the week with her 21-year-old autistic granddaughter at Swedish Hospital.

Vivi: Has to leave the group today at 11:30. Is glad to be with all of us.

Mark: Had a frustrating week with too much work to do. Feels it's hard to separate what he's been doing from the war (news.) His son and his son's girlfriend are visiting.

Marilyn D. Trying to stay centered and calm within, despite the chaos going on around her. Working on self-transformation in conjunction with her thinking about the Earth Charter.

Anne: Has been working in her yard all week.

Elaine: Lost her husband two months ago and as an aspect of her grieving process is thinking about a new identity for herself. Is asking herself who she is now.

Benji: As a grad student at UWT, is finishing his finals. He has won a research fellowship to work on the Martin Luther King Jr. Project at Stanford this summer.

Sheila: Feels Kyle is frustrated with her because of the attention she is giving the war. Has given up antihistamines in favor of Jack Daniels. (Laughter.)

Laura: Helping in the care of her dad who has cancer and heart problems; her role within the family as the youngest child is changing.

Elaine: Finds it difficult to separate personal, political as well as professional life. Traumatized folks she's working with are further traumatized by the war. Talked with her mother this week, who had failed to call her about an upcoming cat scan. Found meeting with Dorothy several times this week exciting.

Sally: Finds it interesting to find the reality of her work (and personal life) in such (contrast) to the war...doesn't know if she can take advantage of the luxuries of going to the Y when so many people are suffering from the war. Sally brings out copies of Sibelius's "This Is My Song," which she wants sung at her funeral, and the group sings it with her.

Karen K: Had a very full week. She is involved in a Tees for Trees fundraising for ecology project with her class. The school secretary has been receiving some hate mail relative to this effort and Karen herself received a returned form with a note scribbled on it: "Save a tree and don't send any more junk like this." Friday her children came to school frightened, asking if "they draft children, too." Karen down played the situation to give them the assurance she felt they needed.

Dorothy: Prepares group to see Elaine's video presentation of Marshall Rosenburg's Nonviolent Communication. Dorothy and Elaine are looking for a site where trainers can meet and practice these skills.

FILM: Film is narrated by Rosenburg who originated the idea of non-violent communication. He quotes Walter Wink's THE POWERS THAT BE which describes the theory of a "dominance culture." He sees the roots of this culture developing from ideas about the inate evilness of man which began 5,000 years ago. One of the cultural results of this "belief" is a fascination with and enjoyment of violence and the development of a language - which he characterizes as "jackal language" - of moralistic judgment.

Parent: Say you're sorry.

Child: I'm sorry.

Parent: You're not really sorry.

Child: (Begins crying.)

Parent: OK. I forgive you.

Rosenburg claims you don't see violence in cultures that don't indulge in this kind of right/wrong paradigm. Rosenburg relates amusing anecdote where faced with a "bad" driver he rolled down his window and yelled, "Idiot!" Since this didn't work he obtained a Ph.D. Now he rolls down his window and shouts, "Psychopath." Which doesn't work either.

A final example he gives is an experience when he worked with a school where parents complained because there was such tension between teachers and administrators. The teachers had complaints particularly about one administrator. Asked to describe what they had observed in his behavior that they found annoying they made such remarks as "He has a big mouth," "He talks too much," and "He thinks he's the only one who has anything that's worth saying."

Rosenburg explains that the teachers hadn't heard his request. They hadn't described his behavior, what he did, but evaluated the behavior. Rosenburg describes observation sans evaluation as the highest form of intelligence. It was finally determined that what the administrator did that annoyed the teachers was append all his remarks with examples from his childhood or professional experience which made their meetings too long (and apparently boring.)

Film stopped for discussion.

Dorothy described the excision of "jackal language" as producing a new way of thinking and feeling about our personal relationships.

Call for announcements:

Kyle: There will be a pick-up-trash at Tacoma Nature Center, Snake Lake every 4th Saturday at noon.

Discussion of implementing non-violent communication:

Suggested excercise: Check-in employing n-vc. (excision of right/wrong, guilt, blame paradigm.)


The process:

1. When I see, hear....
2. I feel....
3. Because I am needing...
4. And I would like...(specific action.)

Elaine states her needs as needing 8 volunteers to facilitate weekly or monthly "practice".

Karen K: Asks how this will relate to the Earth Charter and Conversation Cafes.

Elaine: CC's can serve as the structure, n-vc as the process.

Marilyn: Expresses concern for getting back to Earth Charter.

Dorothy: Use n-vc in the discussion.

Karen H: Remarks on problem of "floating attendance." Do we reintroduce n-vc concept at every meeting?

Elaine: Introduce it as part of the process.

Karen H: What if we make a mistake. (Laughter.)

Elaine: There are no mistakes. Learning is goal of process.

Discussion: (Sorry, got involved and made bad notes.) Development of the idea of an organic process that newcomers will find intriguing.

Karen K: I use this process for problem solving.

Discussion: ...of saying what one feels one wants to say i.e. that guy's an ass, jerk, etc. (Then wondering where such remarks come from...)

Elaine: This process is as much a process with the self as with others. It's not about self-flagellation.

Sheila: Bush. (Laughter.)

Sallie: Recalls Primo Levi quote. This non-judgmental stuff can be frightening. Feels it's OK to wish that someone who is slaughtering people is dead.

Sheila: I think it's lying to tell people we're safe here now.

Dorothy: ...importance of what we say to children...

Elaine: Tells her 15 year old son that she has higher expectations of him than the government is displaying...there is a need for modeling...

Karen H: We need consciousness of what we're doing whether we are "judging" or observing...

Marilyn D: I have a deep seated belief that we're all connected. (We aren't similar) in all the behavior we manifest but at the deepest core of who we are, we are one. Described feelings re: Saddam Hussein.

Sallie: Possible to hold (many feelings/thoughts) simultaneously.

Elaine: Tells how she receives flack for being able to empathize...sometimes she, too, wants to put (certain people) on an island and blow them up. What is important is creating a place where we can agree/disagree, where we honor ourselves and each other at the same time.

Anne: It's human to make judgments. IT distinguishes us from the animals. What's important is that we make good judgments - better and better judgments.

Mark: The "jackal" language observation is a judgment.

Karen H. He (Rosenburg) is talking about the tension created from trivial, nitty gritty judgment patterns, i.e. she's no good.

Sallie: (People) should be conscious of constant judging.

Laura: We're talking about what creates friction. People can keep their principles and still improve communication skills...learn how to express themselves clearly.

Elaine: We only watched part of the video...

Laura: I find it helpful to play back to a person what I am hearing from them. But I don't have much modeling for learning how to play back rather than just reacting. You can feel chemical differences in the two kinds of responses.

Elaine: ...listening skills...learning how to understand what someone has said before one responds....

Karen K: We need to hold a person in our consciousness rather than putting them down. Quotes Nels Bohr: The opposite of absolute truth is another absolute truth. It's OK to feel upset, angry. What matters is what one does with that energy. Through alchemy you can turn that anger, without being trite, into love and light. Says she feels bad energy in some groups, but not in ours.

Laura: Marilyn got to that level...

Karen H: (To Marilyn) You're lucky...

Dorothy: You're more alive for getting there... apologizes that we didn't have time to check-in about the war. Asks for comments on the n-vc method.

Marilyn: Asks for comments from Mark and Benji.

Mark: Agrees with what everyone has said. Feels we can be judgmental and non-judgmental at the same time. Feels there are places and situations for both.

Benji: Interested in right/wrong paradigm concept. Interested in engaging people, persuading without manipulation. Doesn't want to "use" people.

Marilyn: Refers to classic film, Kurosawa's RASHOMON (1950) where we see an event through the perspective of four different people. Relates to current Middle East/West situation.


Mark: Reads letter to J. Brady Kiesling, U.S. diplomat who recently resigned, inviting him to speak here. Group signs letter.

Sallie: Suggests invitation go to top of letter.

Sallie: Lists upcoming vigils. (Posted on current list-serve.)

Benji: Announces April 3, 7:00 p.m. Labor, War and the Civil Rights Movement meeting at Keystone Auditorium at UWT, and 6:00 meeting at Ethnic Cultural Center, UWSeattle. Film screening of "At The River I Stand" followed by discussion and speakers.

Anne: Announces forum at Trinity Lutheran in Parkland, 12115 South Park, 7 - 9:00. (Sorry, I didn't get date.) on Religious Ethics. Guest speaker: David Harry. Panel, representatives of Muslim, Jewish, Christian faiths. (Please call Trinity or Associated Ministries for date.)

Mark: Karen Armstrong, author of BATTLE FOR GOD, as well as books on Islam, Middle East and Buddha, UPS Fieldhouse, April 2, 7:30, $5.00. Mark will be a speaker at conference on Conscious Consumerism, April 4 and 5 at PLU and a sermon May 4 at the Unitarian Church on May 4, 11:00 a.m.

(Disclaimer: Lots of folks said very eloquent things. Where the minutes fail to reflect this, my apologies. Please (Dorothy & Elaine) add corrections to minutes if needed.)

Respectfully submitted,
Karen H.