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 Nonviolent Communication


By Rutagengwa Claude Shema

Regional Coordinator

Great Lakes Peace Initiative (GLPN)


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Psychologist Marshall Rosenberg (born 1934) was invited to speak at a meeting of a group of young Palestinians in a refugee camp on the West Bank. The Israeli police had recently entered the camp to quell protests. The ground was strewn with tear gas shells labeled "Made in USA".

When the organizer introduced him as an American citizen, one of the young men shouted, "Murderer!"

Instead of getting angry or defensive, Rosenberg asked: "Do you feel upset that my government is paying for weapons and tear gas that are used to oppress you?"

-The young man shouted, "Of course!"

Rosenberg continued, "Would you rather wish that that money was spent to create jobs and build schools, hospitals, roads and water supply systems in Palestine?"

-"Exactly!" the man replied!

Rosenberg asked him, "Would you wish that more Americans came to visit here to understand your difficult situation?"

The man agreed wholeheartedly. He said all he wished was for his children to be safe, to be able to play on the streets without fear, like normal children.

After more conversation like this, the man invited Rosenberg to a Ramadan dinner at his home! 

Rosenberg has coined the term "nonviolent communication" for a method of dialogue that does not blame others, but expresses our own observations and feelings, and shows that we understand our dialogue partners' concerns by expressing them in our own words.

...Let's make peace instead of war...!

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