Saturday, March 2, 2013

Non-violent Organzing: a short intro

I wrote this awhile ago. I think maybe over a year. & right now was the perfect time to stumble upon it. The readings I have been doing lately affirm the methodologies I outlined so long ago but now I have a concrete form from within the activate these ideas. We'll see.

Starting to work in the IPV field people kept saying it is complicated. I intuitively understood this to be true but could not verbalize why. I have been doing a lot of thinking about this and what abuse actual is. Mostly it seems like we just call all violence abuse. This problematic because this definition is that it doesn’t take into consideration that we live in a violent society. We have been raised in violent households, violent school and then we move on to work at violent jobs. Moreover, violent outbursts can be signifier of a more systematic and on-going abuse problem being perpetrated against the person who has the outburst(s). When we blame the person who has had the outburst for the situation without looking at the underlying cause we are perpetuating the abuse cycle by victim blaming. So then I asked myself what is the different between violence and abuse if violence is not always abuse and is often self-defensive.

If, violence is an action, a behavior or a verbalization which harms and/or is used to control (or organize) another person. Then I would like to define abuse to be when people don’t take responsibility, accountability nor work to amend their actions, behaviors or verbalizations which (have) harm(ed) and/or is/has been used to control (or organize) another person. Additionally I would add when people vilify others, in general but especially to avoid taking responsibility and moreover when the person being vilified is standing up against violence being directed at them.

Within this I also see it as violent to reject or push someone out of a community. So I am going to coin a new(ish) term, non-violent organizing which is a lot more complex than I am going to define now. I will describe it as systems of organizing which utilizes a power-with model, seeks to be inclusive of all individuals within the community through methodological empowerment and utilizes conflict resolution to address the impact of how our violent society impacts individuals as opposed to disenfranchising* anyone who doesn’t behave in accordance with the privileged classes ideas of appropriate behavior and communication (which is often wrought with passive-aggression and very violent towards marginalized individuals.) When an individual within a community is having outburst it is imperative (in non-violent organizing) to be conscious of victim blaming and instead look to see if the system is not serving the individual. At this point, it is really up to the individual to be accountable for their actions and actively seek to amend their behaviors. *I am using disenfranchisement’s second definition (to) deprived of power; marginalized.

Basically I believe this is how we are going to end systematic violence. It is a critic on the current methodology that is used (that if someone is acting out to disenfranchise them and alienate them from the community.) If this person is having violence issues or even abuse issues then they are going to continue to have these issues they will just be somewhere else, likely harming someone else. The effects of disenfranchisement on marginalized folks can actually increase their tendency towards violence towards self and others because disenfranchisement within itself is so violent. If as stated above the individual is acting out because they have been or are currently the victim of violence and/or abuse then additional violence and abuse (disenfranchisement) only re-enforces those violent behaviorisms.  Furthermore, if an individual is the target of violence from another individual in the community and through victim blaming (even, or should it be especially, for outburst) then the impact is not only the further marginalization of that individual but also it re-enforces systematic violence and condones/ enables the person who is being abusive to continue to be abusive towards others.

Moreover disenfranchisement does not support individuals who are diligently working on issues that come from situations (abuse) that they did not choose and therefore should not be blamed for. This also re-enforces systematic violence/oppression and teaches individuals not to address problems. Denial of actions, behaviors, verbalizations is extremely violent and should be avoided. Instead individuals should be allowed an opportunity to be accountable and an opportunity to learn new and different coping mechanisms to dealing with conflict and the systematic violence entrenched within our society. Basically I am saying we need to confront these situations with direct non-violent communication and active listening which moves into supportive skill building.

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