Another Week Beyond – 2330

Beyond Another Week Beyond

Dear Friends,

2 Mondays ago, we had the privilege of introducing our community development practices to a roomful of educators. We prepared a day-long programme where they experienced how we would go about addressing a neighbourhood conflict guided by a framework for non-violent communication. The goal of such work is to deescalate the conflict and to restore cordiality if not mutual respect and cooperation by attending to the needs of those involved.

The process we introduced begins with an intentional effort to embody the quality of kindness before proceeding to analyze the situation. Kindness prepares us to empathise with unmet needs or pain-based behaviors that require understanding rather than punishment. Otherwise, we are more likely to inflict pain to quell offensive behaviours that are a manifestation of pain. By doing so, we hurt the hurting and do little to promote healing.

Another way of saying this is that peaceful actions are more likely to come from people who genuinely experience peace in their hearts. Hence, a key prerequisite to serving in human services is an ongoing commitment toward becoming a peaceful presence for others. My colleagues who were assisting me in delivering the programme observed that the practice to embody kindness went down well with the educators and reckoned that they valued the brief experience of calm in light of the stressful nature of their job. If you are interested in this practice, you may view it here

My colleagues and I found it a fulfilling experience working with the educators and we are immensely grateful for their attention and the shared opportunity of learning together. It is said that as we teach, we learn twice and teaching really is not a one-way street. Every teaching assignment is really a learning opportunity for the teacher because each experience is different and requires a unique response to what’s alive in a class.

Anyway, what was most fulfilling for me about the experience was the impact it had on 2 members of our teaching team. Both live in public rental housing and although one was not present at the session because of illness, she wrote a note to highlight what her work in her neighbourhood achieved and what it meant to her. She called me the day before to apologise for being too ill to make the session, but she still wanted to honour her commitment to the programme and we discussed how she could do so.  We read her note in class the following day.

The other came up to me at the end of the day to express her appreciation for having her on the team. “Not in my wildest dreams, could I imagine that I would be teaching at a tertiary institution or that educators would want to learn for me. Thank you!” This was because she had left school prematurely and always felt a little intimidated in the presence of teachers.  

We have always believed that to deepen our understanding of poverty and its related challenges, it is critical to hear from those with lived experiences. As such, our members have much to teach human service professionals or anyone who strives to address social issues. We are careful though that their presence and contribution is significant and not just tokenism or a kind of decoration to make us look good.

For peace and community,

Gerard

People heal from their pain when they have an authentic connection with another human being. – Marshall B. Rosenberg