Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Season for Nonviolence Reflections: Week 1

“Acceptance of others, their looks, their behaviors, their beliefs, brings you an inner peace and tranquility – instead of anger and resentment.” – Author Unknown

When we come to the realization that we cannot control others we are free from unnecessary drama. We are free from unrealistic expectations and faulty assumptions and repeated efforts to try to change others.

This awareness is profound because it leads to simply accepting others as they are. When we do this we live in reality and we can focus on what we can change – ourselves. We can only control one thing in life and that is our response to things.

This truth helps us to understand that everyone is doing the best they can with the resources that they have. Nonviolent communication teaches that every act that someone does is an attempt to meet a human need. This means that when others act unbecomingly it is not about us but about trying to meet a need they have. When we realize all of this, we no longer have to take things personally or get defensive. The drama is not about us but about the pain that others are in.

The Power of Empathy
Instead of going to our head and creating negative images of others we can look at why they may be stuck. We can empathize with their unmet needs and their tragic attempts of meeting those needs.

Jesus tells his disciples to love their enemies and to pray for them. When we accept others as they are we can love them just the way they are. We do not need to like what they do, but we can empathize with where they are at in their life journey and say a prayer for them. Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi all demonstrated this in their lives.

Acceptance of Differences
Acceptance of others also means accepting the differences that others have. One individual may have spiked hair and another person may have dreadlocks, while another may have tattoos or a different lifestyle or perspective. They are all special because they were made in the image of God. Everyone matters and contributes to the richness and variety of humanity. 

All individuals are different and have different ways of doing things. We can honor the roads that others travel even though they may be disparate from our own. We can celebrate the differences instead of drawing lines in the sand. By seeing the uniqueness of every individual, we see the beauty that every human being possesses.

Note: The Season for Nonviolence national campaign starts today. At the start of every week I will be writing a weekly meditation relating to this campaign. I hope that it inspires you all to be peacemakers.

PHOTO CAPTION: "Photo (above) courtesy of"

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