Friday, September 26, 2008


Non-violent communication is an ambiguous term; that is to say it's meaning is up for discussion because not everybody agrees on what forms it can take. Some might say any kind of swearing is a act of violent communication, others would laugh at that kind of extreme view. Saying anything that offends a listener could be put in the same category, so who is ultimately the judge? Before we have a go at answering that, let's step back a fraction and look at the bigger picture.

In the past a person of lower class structure had a limited vocabulary and when lacking the appropriate word for the occasion, often would revert to a coarse familiarity. This was just as often used by the authorities as an opportunity for disciplinary action and the laws were put in place to support them. Now it is not so strict but still, a misplaced word at the inappropriate time can land it's utterer in hot water and I would suggest that the whole situation is a hang-over from a time when people were more aware of what side of the track they sprung from. Never the less the brunt of the burden was shouldered by the poorer end of society and the whip was cracked by the wealthier citizens.

Why I have described this is not to argue over who is right and who is wrong but to create a framework for discussion on what I see happening around me in today's Australia. If we want to participate in a modern way and close the gap that was our cultural heritage, then an understanding of this phenomenon is essential for both sides and all those caught up in the middle. It is not so difficult to see in hindsight, the way empowered advocates of polite society could abuse there power by inflicting a code of behavior on the unsuspecting, mostly uneducated masses, but if it was happening to you in the here and now; what form would it take and who would be your detractor?

To answer the questions raised in the preceding passages, let's focus on a microcosm of society at large;
the Internet community, a brave new world we are all thrust into courtesy of the most educated and wealthy participants, however they got there. If a unsuspecting surfer strays onto the web without a proper education of procedures and protocols, then it's not a stretch of the imagination to see what troubled waters lay ahead, just as we examined in our example of the coarse individual of the past. So without expanding this scenario out of proportion, we the people of cyberspace should be asking some basic questions about the governing body, of a somewhat obscure moral police force, lurking behind the screens of conscience we are all pouring over.

Should not there be some level of transparency in the electronic "democracy" we have bought into?
Do we have any right to know who carries the big stick that can rap anyone of us over the knuckles ?
Is there any avenue of appeal if you are unjustly dealt with?
Who decides what is just and how do they get themselves into that position?

Considering we have at our finger tips a tool aptly appropriate for informing us of the answers to those questions and any other concerns we may have, I suspect those that have the power don't want anyone to know who they are or how they got there. So even though I have probably raised more issues than addressed, the basic premise to the article that Non-Violent Communication can be used as a tool for bullies stands except I am more of the mind that No Communication can be used by even bigger bullies.

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