See also: Improvisational Empathy w/ Enemy Imagery
Sunday, May 5, 2013 ~ Universal Human Needs/Rights
From the study:
In the first study, 40 participants watched videos of a small dinosaur-shaped robot that was treated in an affectionate or a violent way and measured their level of physiological arousal and asked for their emotional state directly after the videos. Participants reported to feel more negative watching the robot being abused and showed higher arousal during the negative video.
Anyone who becomes acquainted with Nonviolent Communication (NVC) quickly learns about the critical role that human needs play in this approach. In my own mind, placing human needs front and center is the core insight around which everything in NVC revolves. This is the aspect of NVC that challenges prevalent theories of human nature; the entry point through which collaboration becomes possible in groups; the engine of the kind of healing that happens through engaging with an empathic presence; the mechanism through which conflict mediation proceeds; and the path to personal liberation… (continues)
by Miki Kashtan
Although Nonviolent Communication (NVC) has the word “communication” as part of its title, I agree with Kit Miller, friend and fellow on the path, who says that “NVC is an awareness discipline masquerading as a communication process.” On the path of transformation, both personal and societal, that I envision, I see a two-way street between our words and our consciousness… (Read more »)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Story of Human Rights
Lynn Hunt’s book Inventing Human Rights has an ambitious objective, to chart the birth of human rights from the eighteenth century onwards. What distinguishes this text from others – and makes it important for us – is that Hunt explores cultural trends as well. Human rights did not emerge from a political vacuum, but were accompanied by new developments in the arts. The ability of novels to induce responses in their readers may well have helped abolish torture and create human rights as we know them today.
This book explains, in fine prose, why FictionthatMatters.org exists in the first place. Books can change the way we think — and the way we act.
Punishment in eighteenth century France was horrifically painful and suffered from a lack of procedural protections. You were tortured before trial in order to elicit confessions, then tortured again to implicate your co-conspirators. And your punishment was designed to insure maximum suffering, such as “breaking at the wheel”:
Breaking at the wheel, reserved to men convicted of homicide or highway robbery, took place in two stages. First, the executioner tied the condemned man to an X-shaped cross and systematically crushed the bones in his forearms, legs, thighs, and arms by striking each one with two sharp blows. Using a winch fasted to the halter around the condemned man’s neck, an assistant under the scaffold then dislocated the vertebrae of the neck with violent tugs on the halter. Meanwhile, the executioner struck the midsection with three hard blows of the iron rod. Then the executioner took the broken body and fastened it, limbs bent excruciatingly backward, to a carriage wheel on top of a ten foot pole. There the condemned man remained long after death, concluding ‘a most dreadful spectacle.’
It is hard to imagine that these tortures often occurred in public. Because they served as a sacrificial rite that restored ‘wholeness’ to the community, crowds would arrive and the event could become a raucous party. Torture was somehow meant to serve as a deterrence at the same time that people drank themselves silly. As the jurist Muyart explained in 1767, ‘[p]recisely because each man identified with what happened to another and because he had a natural horror of pain’, the punishments should be more severe and cruel. Seeing someone else suffer for committing a crime would prevent you from doing the same.
This brings us to the most engaging chapter of Inventing Human Rights, which analyzes the influence of literature upon human rights. Hunt argues that this new form of entertainment may have helped stem the use of torture. Examining Richardson’s Pamela (1741) and Clarissa (1748), and Rousseau’s Julie (1761), the author identifies a new means of getting people to care about others. “[R]eading novels,” she writes, “created a sense of equality and empathy through passionate involvement in the narrative.” This sense of empathy was heightened by the fact that these were epistolary novels, a narrative comprised of a series of letters. Pamela, Clarissa, and Julie were each written in the first person, further heightening their emotional content. The stories followed female heroines and crossed class lines. Men and women alike identified with the characters. “You have driven me crazy about her,” wrote one military officer. “Imagine then the tears that her death must have wrung from me.”
Not long afterward, ‘breaking at the wheel’ and other punishments were abolished… (continues)
Note how universal human rights (as Richard Thompson Ford articulates beneath), “which are often articulated at a very high level of generality and abstraction” are similar to universal human needs (as differentiated from strategies/requests), in that how they unfold on the ground, when implemented, is often times a distinct phase.
Today, in this piece, I want to address an area where I am still learning, a collection of words and phrases I still don’t fully know how to translate seamlessly into the language of needs. This “family” includes notions dear to most of us, such as equality, fairness, justice, civil and human rights. Its fundamental notion, in my way of looking at it, is the concept of deserving, intimately tied to the reward and punishment frame of looking at the world.
The Language of Rights and the Language of Needs
When we talk about rights, for example, there is an implication that having a right gives us a claim on something, puts us in a position of being able to say, to someone, that we “deserve” to have what is our right. Having a right means we can make demands. Whoever would then deny us our rights can be prosecuted by law, morally shunned, or fought against, individually or collectively.
Understanding this brought me, several years ago, to the shocking realization that the language of rights and the language of needs are not the same. Instead of appealing to some abstract version of justice, the language of needs appeals to the compassion that is assumed to exist in everyone. Instead of demands and insistence on particular outcomes, it makes room for dialogue, for putting all the needs on the table and finding workable solutions for everyone… (Read more »)
Click here to join in on a conference call/discussion of the questions beneath on Tuesday May 7, 5:30-7 pm Pacific time.
Answer the following questions for each of the notions discussed in this blog piece – rights, justice, fairness, equality, and deserve.
1. What is your own personal definition of this word or notion?
2. How comfortable or uncomfortable are you with this notion?
3. In what circumstances are you likely to invoke this notion? What does it mean to you then? What might be your own human needs that lead you to invoke it at such a circumstance?
4. As you examine your worldview, your own understanding of human nature, how do you see the relationship between your views and your use of these words?
5. What spoke to you and what didn’t about the approach I used in this blog piece?
6. Are there any changes that you would like to make to your use of these words?
Practice with utilizing ‘improvisational empathy’ vis-a-vis our enemy imagery:
Enemy Image Process [EIP] – Excerpt
Three parts of EIP: 1) Empathic connection with self – self-connection with unmet needs related to other’s actions; 2) Empathic connection with other – self-connection with other’s needs behind their actions; 3) Emergence of new possibilities and requests: Self-response-ability to meet your needs. (“Enemy Image” defined as any barrier to feeling connection and compassion with someone. The key to this process is cycling within Part 1, and amid Parts 1, 2 & 3.)
In the news…
New York Times: Suicide Rates Rise Sharply in US
More on Manfred Max-Neef: Shifting to Needs Consciousness