Today I have worked with that group of school-kids again and reached another revealing and sad realization. Until today I have lived in an illusion that I was helping them to learn how to resolve conflicts in their life. I sincerely believed that was what I was doing. And today I have realized I was light-years from even beginning with this task. Because they have already learned how to resolve conflicts in their life.
They have been trained, with all means, and literally conditioned into resolving conflicts in a violent way. Through their parents and most of the adults in their life they have learned that the strongest prevail and that to use your power over the weaker is the way to proceed in life. This is what their parents and teachers and adults have showing them all along. Through stories, movies, tv-shows, computer games and modern myths they have learned that the most powerful one wins, they have learned that violence brings satisfaction to the winner and that winning over others fundamentally resolves conflicts. Life is a competition, life is a war and so you must fight! They have already learned that and they know this is the case. So the learning process is, as far as they are concerned, successfully accomplished.
The natural cause of events would mean that after a couple of decades they would, after hitting the wall a couple of times really hard, realize that it may be a good idea to try to interact with their spouses, kids, friends, relatives in a more nonviolent manner because things only work when the needs of everybody involved get met. And after yet another couple of decades they would start to think that it may not be such a bad idea after all to try to interact non-violently with EVERYBODY. And by the time they finally learn how to do that, most people die.
So when I want to present a less violent and more emphatic approach to communication and conflict to them, I must be sounding like trying to sell them some childish fairly tales and cheap science fiction.
It seems to me that what I am actually trying to accomplish with them is to invite them to open up to the possibility that the fairy tale is actually true. I am telling them: “Yes, yes, it is very possible and easy to walk through walls. Please, try it now…” I am trying to have them unlearn their violent strategies they have been learning the through all of their lives. How can I ever accomplish that with a one hour session every fortnight when they have been receiving further training in violent approaches through all the channels all the time in between? Oh boy, oh boy.
While listening to my whining tonight for a good hour, my beautiful NVC friend and mentor uttered the most meaningful words for me today: “Robert, just observing you, an adult, spending hours after hours with them and coping with all the chaos in the classroom in a strictly nonviolent manner, is a very strong and important learning experience for them.”
I so much hope this was true.