In the language of Hawai’i, aloha means many things…greetings, farewell, love, compassion. I have heard some say that aloha literally means “we breathe the same air”.
The work of Marshall Rosenberg (Nonviolent Communication, NVC) points to this deep truth that unites all of humanity. We breathe the same air. We are all connected, therefore, because of this basic and undeniable truth. Marshall’s genius is that he created a “technology of the human heart” that allows us all to experience this connection, even in the midst of conflict and violence.
Marshall taught me to focus on the “air that we all breathe” in all of its forms: the security that comes only when basic human needs are fulfilled in a reliable way; the needs for safety, order, and community; the universally shared values for learning, love and justice; the requirements to thrive that we all have for respect, cooperation, and peace; the inspiring power of gratitude…and many more words that point to the energy of our ongoing, universal connection through human needs.
I have seen the power of Marshall’s “technology” to cultivate compassionate giving and receiving even among “warring parties”. Most of my NVC peacemaking work these days is at the micro-scale of couples and families. The enemy images and the violence that ensues within our basic societal unit leads to incalculable suffering. NVC addresses the root cause of that suffering, the natural pain of unmet needs, and uses the universal experiences of judgment, sorrow and anguish to knit connection and inspire collaboration through self-awareness, empathy and honesty.
I heard recently from one of the parents we work with something like, “before NVC I was quick to judge, defend against and attack those that I love the most, my partner and kids! Now, before going on the attack, I connect with what’s really important…the love I have for myself and my family, and I take a stand for that. NVC gives me the tools I need to make peace my priority in my home.”
How many times every day is this playing out in our world because of Marshall’s influence? Hundreds of thousands of peacemakers have been nurtured and empowered to bring peace to families, neighborhoods, workplaces and religious communities for more than 50 years. Marshall’s work empowers all of us to make a difference every day where it really counts, and to inspire a quality of compassionate social change from the grassroots to boardrooms, as well as with and for the executive, legislative and judicial leaders responsible for building an enduring culture of peace and collaboration.
I appreciate the impetus of acknowledging Marshall’s work in the service of peace and justice through the skills and consciousness of NVC. Remembering to live from the consciousness of NVC brings Aloha closer to my actual experience in every human interaction. Each of these ordinary connections has within it an extraordinary opportunity for a peace congress of enduring benefit to everyones’ life and the Life we all share.
Aloha from Maui,
CNVC Certified Trainer