Given the lethality of weapons now available to aggrieved individuals and countries, it is essential we ensure that beyond basic needs, no one is deprived of the chance to contribute meaningfully to society, and to enjoy adequate recognition for those contributions. Accomplishing this will require overcoming the abuse of rank that sustains the present gap in dignity and opportunity between "somebodies" and "nobodies." - Robert W Fuller
Through the recent and rapid expansion of world travel and social media, confrontation between differing life practices is becoming a constant- Our core beliefs are frequently challenged. We have abundant opportunity for conversation on matters close to our hearts, which is both necessary and potentially liberating. However, it seems that degrading communication is commonplace in these forums.
When we speak in a demeaning fashion, we lose control of our ability to communicate clearly, and consequently spiral into defensive rhetoric. When this happens, we've likely lashed out because we were unable to articulate ourselves with composure. On the receiving end it feels poor to be misunderstood and aggressively received. No matter what perspective we espouse, or what discussion we are part of, no matter if we are the speaker or the listener (both speaker and listener have a responsibility to care for what is transmitted, for the quality of communication) we are all human. I would say we are all yearning to be treated and to treat one another humanely.
I am not suggesting that it is easy to listen to someone you profoundly disagree with, but I do think we can at least start with listening and responding in ways that engender care, so that we feel safe to explore our perspectives with one another. Simply put - so that we can learn from one another. How much do people really learn from one another when our discourse is facetious or demoralizing?
We are more likely to find common ground with one another if we communicate in reverence for the greatness within each person (otherwise said - communicate with genuine respect). We might benefit by approaching all of these interactions knowing that no matter what the perspective or experience of the other, there IS some matter of worth in understanding that experience. There IS something we can sincerely learn from what another person's perspective has to offer.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar talks about the importance of not only passion (which may motivate us to lead change, but has potential to motivate aggression if over emphasized), compassion and dispassion. Yes, dispassion (ability to be impartial and less influenced by strong emotion). I benefit from focusing on this when my inner fire shows any sign of a destructive edge in interactions.
In ayurveda, being mindful about our communication is considered as a fundamental, daily commitment to sustaining one's health: "Treat yourself and those you interact with lovingly and gently"– Cate Stillman. This is one of the core habits in the daily self-care practices (dinacharya), along with brushing your teeth, drinking water, etc. [note: this does not mean one never asserts himself/herself or that one does not have boundaries. It refers to the way you communicate in all forms].
Communicate with kid gloves. Soft hands. We are free to grow when we approach conversations with humility and curiosity. Conscious listening and speaking are powerful practices in humility. We are plugged in to this frequency of consciousness in these apparatuses and sharing this experience together. We can't afford to 'nobody' any one of our tribe (humanity). It needs to be safe for each to explore, so that we can discover our genius, and brilliance can be the product of our interactions. When we expect to see genius in someone (watch here), this genius is more likely to reveal itself.
So let's see how cool we can make this big soupy mix of collaboration by welcoming all (through conscious communication) to be the best superherhero versions of ourselves. Welcome each other to show up fully in life by communicating on all levels: "I am so glad you are here. I appreciate your life". And I am, and I do. Letting our communication touch on the heart of our experience, and evoke the love that we all need.
NOTES and sources of inspiration:
A pre-requisite step in moving out of frustration for me has been to accept hate, so that it never need gain enough compressed momentum to make its way into physical manifest. Hate is an energy of feeling 'un-intergrateable' in the unity of all. Once this is no longer resisted, it need not persist. Once I got comfortable with feelings of hate, paradoxically I felt more able to let them go.