I have always admired my social activist friends who avidly march, write letters to the editor, and take a stand for what they believe in. They inspire me to think differently. But my own involvement in activism is clouded by tense experiences, like the time I went to Washington for the Women for Peace Rally, just before the outbreak of the Iraq war.
Amy Goodman from the radio show “Democracy Now” and the poet Alice Walker had beautiful things to say about women, peace, and change. But when a few women walked on the cordoned-off park in front of the White House, they were arrested. When they resisted being touched, the level of force increased. Amy Goodman claimed exemption, “You can’t arrest me. I’m with the press. I’m covering this event, not part of it.” They took her away anyway.
As the anxiety and tension rose, Natasha, a young mother, said, “We need to get these children out of here.” We all sensed the danger for the children and for ourselves as the shouting and pushing surged into the crowd. I loved being there, but in that moment I knew I wanted a new way to express my desire for peace. I want to live and work on social change from a place of love and harmony, not from a place of fear or anger. It isn’t always easy, but I still want to model the kind of peace that I want to see in the world.
Everything changed when I learned about nonviolent communication. Intense practice of compassionate consciousness has improved my coaching, facilitation, and leadership skills. The challenge for me as a peacemaker is to fully honor my experience, yet do it from a place of curiosity about what I’m learning now. Not as a sage on the stage or someone who has all the answers, but as someone who is hungry for shared discovery of new ways to live the Gandhian philosophy and be the change we wish to see in the world.
Daily I recommit to generating opportunities for transformation at the personal, group, and ultimately at a global level. By blending nonviolent communication with the best practices in coaching, facilitation, and leadership, we can establish new opportunities for social change, and together we can create cultural change so that we all share power.
About the author:
Martha Lasley is a founder of Coaching for Transformation, an accredited coach training program and ChangeMakers, a year-long facilitation training program. She creates results-oriented programs that inspire, motivate, and transform. “I surround myself with people who take risks and look for new ways of doing things; we explore both the solid ground and the edges of transformation.”
Martha is a certified trainer in Nonviolent Communication and is a professional member of the Indian Society for Applied Behavioral Science. She has written three books: Courageous Visions; Facilitating with Heart; and Coaching for Transformation.