Nonviolence is what I chose for my topic because I feel it is a great tool that anyone can use in any situation. Nonviolence can be a weapon we choose to equip against injustice and was created to bring about change but in a kind and loving way. I believe that if we wield these tools that are given to us we can truly change the world and change how we handle conflict. I was personally influenced by nonviolence and I hope to use it in practice.
Nonviolent communication (NVC) was founded by Marshall Rosenberg. It is also known as compassionate communication for the way it models giving and listening to other people’s needs. NVC is a way of speaking where you intently listen and try to find out what the other person’s basic needs are. It goes to say, that all humans have needs we must have met, and if we are compassionate and try to meet these needs genuinely for each other than we engage in a more meaningful way (Rosenberg, 2015). The king’s philosophy also believes that we should respond out of kindness and love, never hate. The ideals of this philosophy are based on Christian beliefs of treating others how Jesus would, with unconditional love. Dr. King believed nonviolence “seeks to defeat injustice, not people… seeks to win friendship and understanding… chooses love instead of hate” (The King). These are some of the six principles that are believed in King’s philosophy. Dr. King believed that society could be changed and believed that we had to act to do it. Both focus on the nonviolent approaches to communication and to life.
Relation to diversity and social justice
Dr. King is greatly known as a civil rights activist and his philosophy reflects that. His philosophy also reflects how important diversity is. It is against racism as well as poverty and militarism (The King). These issues are extremely controversial and Dr. King wanted to bring it out in the open that things could be changed, we have the resources to do so but, we need to get together and make a plan. Dr. King and his ideals are so important to diversity and to social justice and the seeking of making our country better. Nonviolent communication contributes more to social justice but at the same time encourages diversity. It provides grounds for peaceful discussions between people and organizations. It encourages a more considerate way of speaking and communicating. NVC lends a great deal of wisdom to leaders and social justice warriors because it can lead to change without resorting to any violence. It guides people to ask for their needs to be met in a way that is not manipulative or spite. Think back on a recent topic of gun control. The Parkland students did not resort to violence when they wanted to make a change, they went to speak to the senators and to those who were in power to talk about what they wanted to see changed. These students displayed great courage and they did it in a peaceful way. Both resources were birthed because there was an injustice. There were needs that needed to be met but were not. The leaders of these movements wanted to impact how people treat each other and how we treat conflict.
I became interested In NVC when we were talking in class about it. I learned that I get very defensive when I argue. “As NVC replaces our old patterns of defending, withdrawing, or attacking in the face of judgment and criticism, we come to perceive ourselves and others, as well as our intentions and relationships, in a new light” (Rosenberg, 2015). This really stuck out to me because I wanted to find a way where I could respond in a better way, keep my automatic reactions to myself and find a way to respond better. I was getting frustrated at myself for the way I communicated with people and when this was brought up in class it all clicked. I suddenly realized what I was missing in my day-to-day conversations. I wanted to learn more about nonviolence and the way it works. I then also was inspired by Dr. King’s philosophy. I thought that nonviolence was just a way to seek social justice but it is a way of life, truly. It is rejecting the hate and the racism and all the violence and choosing to love. I as a Christian became further inspired by Dr. King than I already was before. I wanted to model how genuine the love shown by both approaches all the more because it reminded me of Jesus and how he loved people and how He responded to hate and violence.
Application and Advocacy
One strategy I have is to be a better listener and to listen without any bias. I want to be able to listen to someone speak without feeling insulted if they said something I did not like. I think that I could learn to be a better listener by understanding different cultures, and different diverse topics. The more I learn about things that are different from what I think and believe I think it will empower me to be a better listener. I feel that by having better listening skills I could be a better social worker. I think this because as a social worker you already need to have good listening skills but if you are just good at listening but still get defensive, frustrated, or start to go off in a tangent in your head then you are not truly listening. You end up listening absent-mindedly and can then no longer give good advice and cannot empower them.
The second thing I plan to do is read more books about nonviolent communication as well as listen to some of Dr. King’s sermons and his philosophy. When I do this, I will become more knowledgeable on nonviolence. I hope to, in the future, bring this into my professional life and be an advocate for this. I am considering doing international social work and what with tense polarization on immigration policy I think this will be a very good tool to have in my belt. Not only will I improve my personal relationships but I will be able to help improve relations with others on a macro level.
One strength I believe I have is self-awareness. Because I am aware of things that need to be included and changed in my personal life, I can bring it to my professional life. I think all social workers should be self-aware because without that, how can we truly help others? There is the famous saying, how can we help others if we cannot help ourselves? With nonviolence, it’s important to know what your own personal needs and desires are and to know what it is that may trigger you so that you can prevent violence.
Another strength I believe I have is my love and compassion for people. Because I love people, it is what attracted me to this topic. I think that if I just focus on loving people and fighting against injustice like Dr. King mentions (2015) then I can help others. If I did not have love I would not be able to carry out the ideals for these philosophies.
Nonviolence is a lifestyle both Marshall Rosenberg and Dr. King carried out and I want to learn more and empower others to live their life in a peaceful and loving way. I want to be better at resolving conflict and carry on the torch that these two leaders have lit.