Another Week Beyond – 2207

Beyond Another Week Beyond, Community

Dear friends,

Now that the Year of the Tiger is on its way, a sharing related to cats seems apt.

Grey, one of several cats in the neighbourhood sauntered in, stretched himself and rested near the straw mats where 2 families were sitting on.┬áDespite not drawing any attention to himself, he was noticed, and everyone present could not help smiling at Grey’s timely entrance.┬áIt was as if he had come to watch what the children who were performing would be saying about him and his feline friends who prowl the neighbourhood.

The occasion was a modest interactive theatre performance by 6 children who were attempting to highlight the disagreement between neighbours about cats. There was a visible tension between a “cat feeder” who often implored others to treat the cats kindly and those who felt that she was encouraging┬ácat litter. So, with the help of interns from Singapore Polytechnic, these children put together a little skit depicting a dispute as a means of triggering a discussion among the audience.

A youth who was watching, gamely went on stage to demonstrate how he would have spoken to deescalate the conflict that was presented. He was not exactly successful, but his effort got those present acknowledging that if people cannot live and let live, they need to work out their differences but that is not something they may be ready for.

Often when we encounter a conflict between people, we tend to ask who needs to change rather than what is the change needed and what steps can be taken? Neighbours who value cleanliness or harmonious relationships can explore what steps they can take individually or together in these areas. There is no need to frame the cat-feeder as a root-cause of the problem that needs to be stopped in her tracks. It would not be unreasonable to believe that she would value cleanliness and harmonious relations too and would be willing to do her part.

The children worked on their performance partly because they needed and wanted to live among people who got along with each other. They were also motivated by the bonds they had formed with Grey and his friends. Just being near the cats and stroking them brought much comfort and seems to help them feel calmer and forget their worries for a while.

When we reflect on the current climate in the neighbourhood, it appears that both adults and children were trying to meet their own needs and with our assistance the children attempted to articulate their needs through interactive theatre. However, not many heard what they were trying to put forth and we must continue finding a way for people to understand and appreciate that our actions are our attempts at meeting our own needs.  All of us have needs and in the words of Marshall Rosenberg, “It has been my experience over and over again that from the moment people begin talking about what they need rather than what’s wrong with one another, the possibility of finding ways to meet everybody’s needs is greatly increased.”

For peace and community,

Gerard

Judgements, criticisms, diagnoses and interpretations of others are all alienated expressions of our needs
– Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication, A Language of Life