Showing posts with label non-violence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label non-violence. Show all posts

Friday, 2 November 2012

The Shirt of Shame.

Image source: The Ellen DeGeneres Show facebook page
Sometimes it's really hard, when you come across a picture that's been shared more than 30,000 times on facebook. 30,000 times that other people were in on a joke I'm certain isn't funny. What we have here, is no better than spanking.

Now, I'm aware in its country of origin it's perfectly acceptable to smack/spank your kids, and if that's acceptable, then what's on this picture certainly won't have a lot of people stand up and explain how this form of punishment a)won't work long term, and b) will create long term problems. That those who do are asking to be ridiculed and scoffed at. Told they have no sense of humour, or worse, be informed that they'll be raising a pack of hellions unfit for society, because "that's what happens when we don't instil a fear of punishment into our kids."

Another quote that's doing the rounds though, in many different forms, is one that says:
Most People are Only Alive Because it's Illegal to Shoot Them.
And it's the one that came immediately to mind when I saw the photo of those two little children in the shirt of shame. Not because I thought their parents needed shooting (let's get that clear, because I assume a lot of people thought that was where I was going) but because one is as ridiculous as the other.

I can safely say that NO person is alive today solely because I thought I might get in trouble if I shot them. I also believe that the threat of jail time isn't going to stop a person who sincerely wants to shoot another. It could make them do it in private, however.

Now, these kids are clearly being punished for pissing off one or both of their parents. Not because they weren't getting along, but because their squabbles were annoying.

How do I know this?

Well, because when people we love aren't getting along, and we care about that, we try to mediate and resolve the issue, don't we? If our friends are having a dispute, do we talk things through with them, or do we just ensure they shut up until we're not around? And these friends, we assume, are people who have already learned about resolving their own disputes growing up. The only reason we'd tell them to shut up until we weren't around would be because we both didn't care about the outcome and felt discomfort with the dispute.

So doesn't it make sense, that if the parents both didn't care about the outcome, and also felt discomfort with the dispute, that they wouldn't try to help resolve an issue that these kids were having trouble resolving themselves, but just get them to shut up about it?

Is it any different to this?

image source
If your children were having trouble understanding something at school, would you prefer them to be given extra help, or to be stuck in a dunce cap (shirt, whatever) for not getting it right? Does this form of shaming make them smarter people, or just resentful of the enforcers? Does it build their confidence and interpersonal skills, or does it make them feel small and helpless and stupid and unlovable?

A lot of comments on the "We Will Get Along" picture were to the effect of: Look how unhappy the girl is - it must be working ahahahaha. Of course she's unhappy. She's just been humiliated by one of the people who she should be able to trust more than anyone else. Humiliated, shamed, laughed at by the world, and not helped with her conflict difficulties in the slightest little bit.

Poor kids.

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Friday, 26 October 2012

Stop Calling Me Names!

"I'm sorry I got angry when you were bad," he said.

He said that to me! In the middle of the night, with me mostly asleep and my subconscious unprotected. Of course I'm angry - I'm furious! Apology unaccepted, sir, to put it mildly.

How dare he?

It escalated, of course. With me uttering phrases such as, "keep your damned labels off me" and moving to the edge of the bed. When it got to the point where I was named "mean" for being upset, and informed that I must explain why labelling and criticizing weren't the best thing for human growth and mental health since sliced bread, I left the room.

And so, I am here at 4am, calming down, unclenching my teeth bit by bit, considering making a coffee (because it's clear I won't be going back to sleep), and clicking link after link on the ol' information superhighway during the moments when my mind is screaming too loud for me to write effectively.

He was trying to connect with me, but the connection was backwards.

A backwards connection is just the opposite of a real connection, which is based upon two people relating to each other.
A backwards connection begins with an assumption or definition of the other, that ends all possibility of a relationship, at least in that interaction.

-Patricia Evans, Controlling People

For the backwards connection to be made, I'd either have to concede that I was bad, or argue over why I wasn't. Either option would be a silent reinforcement that it was OK to define me in the first place.

It's not OK.

The only person who can truly define you is yourself. The only person who has access to your motives, your understanding (or lack of), your emotional history, your five senses, and your perspective, is you, so you're the only one with the full story. A person can accept your definition of yourself and relate, but they cannot invent their own and expect to be relating. What it boils down to, is, they're making things up.

I understand it when I step back, and disconnect with my emotional part in this, but that can't happen for over an hour later sometimes. I'm hurt and I've a right to feel that way.

I know why he felt like I was being mean and attacking him: it was because I wouldn't allow the backwards connection. So he felt rejected. It's not the first time and I'm reasonably sure it won't be the last.

I get it, but it's still no fun. I want him to relate to me, not his idea of me.

I've seen a few blog posts recently, by men, along the lines of: I'm overly critical to my partner and I don't know why and I'm scared she's going to leave me. I've seen very few from the receiving end. I imagine everyone's story is different, but I think the reason behind this is shame. And possibly fear of public reaction.

I feel neither shame nor fear in this. Mr. Me and I will sort things through today in a gentle, loving way, as we always aim to do, so that tomorrow, we don't have to.

If this post spoke to you, please share it with your friends :)

Image credit: photostock.

Friday, 12 October 2012

So You Think Your Child Is A Nazi...

Nobody wins a war.

Yes there'll be one side who will be stronger eventually, and they can dominate, take over, enforce their will on the other side, but no one actually wins. There will be casualties on both sides.

The "winners" of a war will be the ones with the most training. Those who have been taught - had it beaten into them - how to look past the humanity of their opposition. How to ignore the suffering of their foes, or to pretend it doesn't exist at all.

In a war, you have to switch off your empathic function or you're no good. It's pointless being there if you can feel the affect you have on each and every participant you have interactions with. You could start caring that your opponent is so terrified from your last encounter that they just buckle and plead, follow your instruction and apologise for being who they were born to be. You could start caring, and then how could you finish them off? How could you win? No. In a war, you must turn off your empathic function.

In a war, you must follow orders. This is drilled into you by people with more power than you, before you even get near a battle. You learn from their example, and if you do not, you'll need more drilling until you do. There is no place on a battlefield for someone who thinks for themselves. You'll have been given your tactics for winning long ago, by those who were better at it than you, and you must know them so well that it's automatic. There will be no time to stop and think. You must turn off your creativity. You must fight your innate impulses until you have replaced them with the impulses of your superiors.

In a war, you must fight through pain. You will be damaged, that is guaranteed, so you must have the will of mind to ignore your own pain. If you take care of your own hurts, that's a weakness. A weakness in yourself and in your battalion. Your comrades require you for their own safety and you do them for yours, so if you fall back, you could be the weakest link in the chain and cause defeat. If you're fighting alone, to consider your own pain, to break, means certain death, assuming your opponent has also been well trained, and turned off their empathy.

So, to win a war, we must turn off our empathic mind, our rational and intuitive minds, our sensate function and our free will.

Once a person is trained in warfare, it's very hard to go back to being untrained. A lot of times it won't happen and the returned soldier will never regain the connection they had with loved ones. They'll spend their time yearning to be in their comfort zone - the place they were trained to be. They'll feel angry and betrayed by those they came home to, who are scared and confused by the soldier's lack of empathy and love and understanding. Their loved ones will do as the returned soldier wills, and call it respect, and convince themselves it's respect, but it will really be fear. Loved ones will understand the battles were fought on their behalf, whether they asked for or wanted it or not and will feel compelled into gratitude.

But in the end, fear, disguised as respect, and gratitude, aren't fertile soils in which to grow love. In the end, we're often left with a lonely soldier at the Veteran's Association, surrounding himself with the only people who can identify with how he thinks. A lonely soldier who goes to visit a different family member each Christmas - passed around like dishes duty.
I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.
Nobody wins a war.

And when you see your home as a war zone, the same things happen.

When you fight battles with your partner or your children, you are turning off your empathic mind, your rational and intuitive mind, your sensate function and your free will. It must be done to win the battle.

Your children, buckled and pleading, follow your instruction out of fear and apologise for being who they were born to be. You call it respect, and so will they and they'll forever confuse the two. They'll love you through duty, and because they see the sacrifice you have made on their behalf whether they asked for or wanted it or not and will feel compelled into gratitude.
I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.
But they're not fertile soils in which to grow real love. They'll grow up and move away, half way across the world, and you'll lose regular contact. And they'll fight their own wars at home as they've been taught to do. They've been trained for years, and now they know how to win with their own innocent offspring and spouse. They'll know to turn off their empathy to win. They'll flip into irrational rages against your grandchildren and they won't know why. They'll blame the kids, for being who they were born to be. Maybe later they'll feel guilty. Maybe not.

If not, the cycle continues with their grandchildren... But maybe they want for their children the freedom for the full expression of their personalities. And that can never be achieved through violence, only love, genuine respect, peaceful resistance and teaching through role modeling.
Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.
We are going to make mistakes. Our spouses are going to make mistakes. Our children are going to make mistakes. Our parents are going to make mistakes.

Imagine living in fear of making a mistake. Trying something new would be terrifying. You'd hide away so no one would know. You wouldn't be able to share your ideas or get excited about them for fear you would fail. Life would get procrastinated away as you dissociate away your anxiety and you'd live in Dr Seuss's "Waiting Place" where most people stay.

I am not at war with my family. Not any more. There have been times I thought I was. And there've been times, because of the way I have trained them, that I'm incited into battles and I feel like I must fight. Be violent. There are times when I've made mistakes, and though I resolve not to, maybe I'll make them again. I hope not. I hope I always have the strength to peacefully resist the battle-cries of others. I resolve to model peace, not violence, at all costs.

I never want to give up my capacity for empathy. I want to keep my intuition and my rationality. I want to remain self aware: to know how I got that bruise and to listen to what my body is trying to tell me when I have that headache or I can't sleep.

I will remain whole.
You must be the change you want to see in the world.

Please take the time to share this post with those you care about. The less people there are at war at home, the more whole, free, loving and happy people there will be in the world. Be the change.

Thank you.

The quotes are Mahatma Gandhi's

Image credit: Wikipedia
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