Sept 3, 2021
Dear Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma Communities,
We are happy to provide this biweekly update on the Compassionate Reconciliation Project. We will focus this communication on some learning and reflections about conflict, and then let you know about a few upcoming events.
Dignity and Conflict
This week we want to share a way of thinking about conflict that comes from Donna Hicks, at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs..
Dr. Hicks spent years mediating high-stakes and intractable international disputes, and it was there that she realized that what made people immovable in a conflict was that they felt their dignity was being violated. In other words, they felt that their value in the world, the legitimacy of their perspectives, the relevance of their experience was being overlooked or rejected.
What they needed, and what enabled them to work out settlements with their adversaries, was having their dignity honored; they needed to know that their concerns mattered, that their needs were taken seriously, that others genuinely wanted to understand how they saw things. They wanted assurance that they belonged, and that their inherent value was being recognized and respected.
Hicks went on to ask hundreds of people from around the world about their experiences of having their dignity either honored or violated, and she found universal themes. She distilled those themes and identified 10 elements of dignity, 10 concrete things we can do to honor someone’s dignity. We want to highlight these, because we have seen them make or break people’s ability to work their way through complex and difficult conflict:
-Take a moment to think about a time from your childhood, when you were still learning about your place in the world and your value to others; think about a time when you felt someone was judging or dismissing you; remember how that felt in your body.
-Now imagine that person pausing, taking a breath, and then commenting on something they valued about you, or saying they wanted to start over because you were important to them. Imagine how that would have felt in your body.
-What difference might that have made to your stress level in the moment? Or to your trust in other human beings? To your sense of belonging
We would guess that many of you are imagining quite a shift in how those two moments would have felt, and in the difference that the second scenario could have made going forward. In her writing and speaking, Hicks uncovers why that second scenario would feel so different: she explains why evolution has programmed into us a powerful core human need to protect our dignity, and she explains the neuroscience behind why we can react so destructively when we feel that our dignity has been violated.
You can learn more about Donna Hicks’ work, and watch her TEDx talk, on her website.
Conflict is never only about the issues at stake or the things we see differently. It always is also about what is at stake for us personally and relationally; and how we understand our place in the world and how safe we feel with those around us. In groups that routinely honor each other’s dignity, difference is welcomed because it opens new perspectives that make more things possible. Difference becomes a source of creativity. There still might be tension in the process of figuring out what is possible or how best to proceed, but the bedrock of dignity makes it safer for everyone to put their energy into figuring that out.
Upcoming Events and Workshops
For community members interested in learning more about the Compassionate Reconciliation Project, Just Outcomes is offering a series of informational Q & A sessions. These monthly sessions are held at different times of day to accommodate various time zones, with the next one coming up on Sept. 16. All Q & A Sessions are scheduled for 60-minutes. The following are options available this fall. Come as often as you’d like!
Introduction to Restorative Justice Workshop (4 hours)
Have you been seeking to better understand what Restorative Justice is all about? In this 4-hour session, Just Outcomes will share the foundational principles and values of restorative justice, and how this approach to justice seeks to repair harm, determine meaningful accountability, and build community. We will offer this session several times over the next 10 months and registration is open and available to all those interested in the work of the CRP. All “Introduction to Restorative Justice” workshops are 4-hour sessions. The following are the Fall 2021 options:
Circle Facilitation Training (14 Hours)
In this training, participants will engage in an in-depth look at the capacities, skills, and processes for effective Circle facilitation. Through experiential practice, participants will have an opportunity to fully understand the Circle-Keepers role, learn the contexts in which Circles are most effective, explore what goes into designing meaningful circles, and begin strategizing for how Circle technologies might be used in their own contexts.
We anticipate strong interest in this training, and spaces are limited. In the October training, we have also reserved several spaces for Compassionate Reconciliation Commission members – however some additional space remains. Where needed, registrants will be placed on a waitlist, or can join future trainings (we will be in touch with those registered to let you know about registration status). The following are the Fall 2021 options, with more to come in Spring of 2022.
Yours in kindness, compassion, and gratitude,
Catherine Bargen, Matthew Hartman, Cara Walsh, Aaron Lyons, and our extended Just Outcomes Team
 We gratefully acknowledge Just Outcomes team member Susan Sharpe for her contributions to this communication.
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