Deep communication

On Monday 20th of January, the club discussed about creating and attaining sustainable relationships and talking about non-violent communication. The teacher Eva shared her insights for deep communication. Eva discussed many topics that I have been pondering lately, and many things she said touched a nerve.

One of the interesting thing was when she voiced her displeasure of using the word ‘non-violent communication’ as it is not positive (it just negates the violence) and rather dull (non-violence is not the catchiest term). To me, non-violence as a term reminds me of timidity and ideological rigidity of pacifism, shying away from painful communication and capitulating for conformity.

Violence, in its dictionary definition, means hateful action but also a strong force - like a violent storm. Some form of violence induces growth: human muscles grow and become more resilience by microtears in the muscle tissue which is repaired to withstand even greater stress. Also other forms of turbulence increases resilience: violently emotional situations of death of a relative or a loved one, break-up and heated disagreements can either break or damage an individual, or make one a stronger, more resilient human being.

Also, non-violence can be seen to advocate meekness and conformity. Adherence to conformity is deep inside in our heritage – survival of the Homo Sapiens, a weak mammal, was based on the skill of harmonious cooperation. But this conformity can also produce group think that overrates the group’s wisdom, silences the dissidence, dehumanizes ‘the others’.

I do not disagree Marshall Rosenberg’s ideas of non-violent communication, where he advices to focus on empathetic listening, deep understanding and honest expression. These are all commendable, and I have tried to integrate these values into my communication for some time. I think Mahatma Gandhi’s term for non-violent resistance, ‘satyagraha’ (holding firmly to the truth) is much better – active, encompassing and strong.

I encourage all people, in the spirit of satyagrahi, to throw themselves headlong into disagreements and contradictions of human communication, as they provide a possibility of real growth and new ways to find consensus between the communicators.

Niilo Montonen (Jan. 2020)