Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

Death penalty and doing enough

Tonight I am gonna sit with my Sangha as silent witness as Lisa Coleman gets executed.

What good does my sitting do? How is my sitting on the steps of Capitol Hill with ten or less people, hardly visible, not even at the place of the execution, gonna make a difference?

Sister Prejean and others, Sept 10, 2014I should be like Sister Prejean. She has been working incessantly for the abolishment of the death penalty for the last 30 years. She visits death row inmates, she travels the country non-stop to engage with the audience, she speaks on television and radio. Her story even got filmed as Dead Man Walking.

I should do so much more.

Marshall Rosenberg refers to Dan Greenburg to demonstrate “the insidious power that comparative thinking can exert over us. He suggests that if readers have a sincere desire to make life miserable for themselves, they might learn to compare themselves to other people. For those unfamiliar with this practice, he provides a few exercises.” Dan starts with the suggestion to compare ourselves to a male and female photo model. Just observe their body measurements and compare theirs to ours.

I don’t even need to do that exercise. Only thinking about it, makes me miserable: my belly is too poochy, my breasts are too small and hanging, the corners of my mouth growl down in seemingly dissatisfaction.

“Since physical beauty is relatively superficial, Greenburg next provides an opportunity to compare ourselves on something that matters: achievement… Greenburg lists the languages Mozart spoke and the major pieces he had composed by the time he was a teenager. The exercise then instructs readers to reflect on their own achievements at their current stage of life, to compare them with what Mozart had accomplished by age twelve, and to dwell on the differences. Even readers who never emerge from the self-induced misery of this exercise might see how powerfully this type of thinking blocks compassion, both for oneself and for others.” (Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication, 2003, p. 18-19)

Thank you, Marshall Rosenberg and Dan Greenburg, for your wisdom.

I will follow my heart’s calling and be true to myself. I will practice looking deeply to see how comparing myself to the achievements of others doesn’t nurture the peace, compassion, understanding, love, and support I want to bring into the world. I will honor myself and the contribution I can make with an open heart and sit as silent witness.

And that’s enough.


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