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- A Special Guest Article

BY James L.  Prieto, Jr., Author of  "The Joy of Compassionate Connecting", and Compassionate Leadership Intern

I've been facilitating NVC teach-ins at Occupy Los Angeles since November 2011. Much of the movement centers around finding inclusive "domination-free/horizontal" ways of collaboration to facilitate compassionate social change. I have a sense that Occupy would have more impact if we could live congruently with the values of compassion, acceptance of differences, mutual respect and understanding-but my experience is that we often do not.

NVC can help us get clear with behaviours that meet these needs through empathic listening and honest expression. NVC education, training and practice is essential.  

I offer the following insights to the movement:

  • Release static labels that de-humanize people (e.g. "the 1%"), and build bridges to them
  • Others may stimulate feelings in us, but they are not their cause
  • Instead of blaming others, acknowledge that something inside us is stimulated
  • "Right and wrong" judgments break connection; we can transform how we experience life by sensing how our actions meet or do not meet needs
  • Take responsibility for making clear and doable requests, while giving others the freedom and space to answer authentically
  • Hold strategies lightly, or let go of outcomes completely for the sake of each connection, listening for the universal needs alive in any conversation.
  • Strategies are the things we do to meet our needs, and are related to people, places, things. Needs are the life energy in us seeking fulfillment, which are common to all people.
  • It is through the collective connecting conversations that real change will occur.

As we let go of judgments of people with money, and accept that they are just getting their needs met the best way they know how, we are more likely to connect with them. We might even gain their support.

The kind of change I'm talking about starts from within our hearts, and extends outward through a radically free invitation of love that holds absolutely no threat of punishment if others don't want to play. This change transcends formal governmental institutions, and deals directly with the human spirit. I'm reminded of the words of Rabbi Yeshua (aka. Jesus):

"Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar..."

My heart is mine, and you own yours. Own it. Occupy it!

It is through heart-filled connections of two or more people that our democratic institutions will be reformed, as we take nonviolent action together and get involved in the political process. Taking radical responsibility for our thoughts, judgments, feelings, needs and requests, as NVC invites, is a step in that direction. This is where the real change comes from. As Gandhi said,

"Be the change you'd like to see in the world."

Additionally, the movement will go farther through connection and compassionate dialogue with those think about as our "enemies"-please drop the labels and look in the mirror first. 

I've particularly enjoyed participating in theCompassionate Leadershipprogram for the second time, this year as an Intern. I get a lot out of learning from different trainers, as their styles and approaches broaden the breadth and depth of my experience--our living NVC consciousness meets needs for authenticity and wholeness.   

In closing, NVC can help Occupy become a powerful movement of social transformation toward a world of compassion. It isn't a pill that you can take to make it all better, but if you are willing to consider the possibility that it could help us all get our needs met, then I've succeeded in making my point.  

Would you be willing to go to one of these websitesCNVC or NVC Academyor Compassionate Leadership to learn more?

As we freely choose to practice self-empathy, and get empathic help from our friends, we begin to feel a natural curiosity and compassion toward others; the possibility of connection is born. The energy of connection is much greater than the sum of its parts-this new energy has a life of its own. Solutions to problems seem to materialize out of thin air; some people call this "magic"-- this is what I call "spirit."  I'm having a hard time imagining how Occupy could become a new consciousness --a real movement-- without NVC.I am inspired by the gist of what Einstein had to say about complex problems-i.e. we can't solve a problem with the same consciousness of judgment and domination that created the mess we are in... NVC consciousness is a step in the right direction; it helps us to transcend our natural tendencies to fight, flee or freeze, and gives us tools to transform our judgments through the energy of the heart.

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