RE-Juicing the Common Ground with Rowan Duczek
8) Non-Violence – I do not inflict my attitudes or desires on others. Where appropriate I step in and stop violence, manipulation or intimidation of myself or others, or at least say that I would like it to stop.
In my long association with this community I have not come across any direct physical violence and in this, we are fortunate compared to other environments. When it comes to ‘inflicting my attitude on others’, or even ‘manipulation’, that might well be another story. In my time at the Park I have come across bullying, especially of little ones that brought out the ‘Tiger Mama’ in me. And I have heard from at least one Park resident that he felt bullied by various community folk to sign up for an Experience Week, which he was not ready for or even interested in.
There are many degrees of ‘verbal violence’, some blunt and offensive, some subtle. I have noticed that the English language lends itself to very subtle ‘put-downs’ that I – a non-native speaker – only ‘get’ well after the event. It does not hurt but it ‘niggles’ like a mosquito bite. I had one of these recently and only by checking it out with a friend and native speaker did I get the insight on what it was that irritated me. Quite often, it is not the actual words spoken but the intonation and the silences in between. Eileen Caddy often addressed people with ‘darling’ as she could not remember all their names. I do the same, having myself a pretty bad memory for names but with no ‘put-down’ intended. I remember a radio panel programme where a fellow male panellist addressed Germaine Greer, the well known Feminist, with the words, “But… darling….” and she retorted calmly, “Dr. Greer to you…. Sir!” Which brought a chuckle from the audience and from me.
It was during the 1980’s that I came across the work by the Swedish Professor Johan Galtung in the field of Peace Research which made me aware of the intimate relationship between Direct Personal Violence and Structural Violence, violence embedded within the structure, be it within a family, an organisation or a nation state. British History shows abundant examples where prolonged Structural Violence led to Direct Personal Violence, from the Peasant Revolt in 1549 to the Brixton Riots during the Thatcher regime. The stark discrepancy between the beautiful, privately owned houses on the Field of Dreams and the rental area of caravans behind the Phoenix will surely NOT lead to ‘armed insurrection’ but from a Peace Researcher’s perspective, a form of Structural Violence might well be perceived.
Another form of violence is psychological and often self-imposed, that is the fear of speaking-out when something is evidently not OK. It is the fear of being regarded as a ‘Nestbeschmutzer’ (a German term meaning ‘shitting in one’s own nest’). I have the greatest respect for ‘whistle blowers’ who not only put their jobs, but sometimes also their reputation and even lives on the line. My sincere hope is that we, in this community, find better, more cooperative and imaginative ways in dealing with issues that are in need of improvement. And here, the Community Change Working Group is already doing an excellent job.