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Don’t waste my time: 3 steps to avoid conflict

4 Mar

What triggers set you off?

Admittedly, I’m unsure of my specific plans to sell my apartment, but when a potential realtor said, ‘I don’t want to waste my time’, my communication skills went the way of affordable middle-class housing in NYC (non-existent).

www.talkingdollarsandcents.net.  Hey I'm selling a studio apartment and all my worldly possessions!

www.talkingdollarsandcents.net. Hey I’m selling a studio apartment and all my worldly possessions!

So I thought about triggers.  Triggers that get pulled and explode in either conflict and/or nasty feelings.  We all have them: those intangible minefields, verbal or nonverbal (tone of voice or ‘scrunched’ faces) that upset our equilibrium about how we feel about ourselves, our lives, and the world we live in.

So why did the flippant comment of this realtor bug me so much and what did it remind me of ‘fighting words’?

Current emotional residence:  Conflict is always about what is going on inside.  Selling my external/physical residence feels freeing, but as my next step is uncertain, internally I’m emotionally fragile.    The stress of ‘when’ to sell was heightened as my uncertainty met with her impatience.

Expectations:  It is wrong, but I still expect to be treated with some semblance of kindness, goodwill, compassion by others – especially in a situation where I am the customer and will make her money.   A little empathy goes a long way I always think to reminding me I am in a ‘human’ relationship.

Communication style differences:  Yes, I know different people focus on different things.  I focus on relationships whether it is in selling my apartment or going to the dentist.   In a busy city in our modern 24/7 life it a reminder  others favor tasks and getting things done over a warm fuzzy relationship shouldn’t surprise me – and yet…  And while I ultimately want a task focused realtor, this realtor’s task approach left me feeling like I do when the ‘F’ train suddenly goes express leaving me in the freezing cold on an outdoor subway platform.

Needless to say, I let this realtor know I wouldn’t list with her.  Her verbal comments and nonverbal tone made me feel like my sell was ‘pocket change’ which it is, but still….  I recommended I would have preferred a ‘let’s see if this will work for both of us’ approach.

www.featurepics.com  The math equation we all have memorized!

www.featurepics.com The math equation we all have memorized!

Time is money and it always has been.    As a consultant, I’ve spent months patiently calling potential clients to discuss their needs.  Sometimes its paid off, quite often not.  Is there anything more valuable than money?  I suppose that is up to each of us to decide.  Like I said, I focus on relationships.  Granted, one reason why I am selling a VERY low commission apartment!

So as l ditch my cheap little apartment, not only don’t I want my time wasted – more importantly I don’t want my good nature destroyed.  So here is my 3 step reminder to myself (and any potential realtor or substitute realtor for any person of potential conflict) to prevent conflict and make a sell:

1.  Compassion:  Realize when someone is seeking ‘help’ they are (likely) feeling vulnerable.  Compassion like empathy goes a long way.  I know it’s so last century, but ‘be nice’.

https://www.kindsnacks.com/store#All-KIND-Products.  Healthy snacks earn a profit with the message to do kind things for others

https://www.kindsnacks.com/store#All-KIND-Products. Healthy snacks earn a profit with the message to do kind things for others and (basically be nice)

2. Expectations:  (see above) and: I don’t know my potential clients expectations (hell, as a seller in this situation I barely know mine!).  This is a reminder to compassionately ask:  what are your expectations for working with me?  It’s not meant to be an end to negotiations, only a good beginning.  And a good first step to ensure no-one’s time is wasted.

3.  Connect with style:  (see above) and: remember we all have different styles and ways to go about doing the same things.  This is why we are always grousing about partners, significant others, and friends.  In reality no-one does things the way we do.  So my most important reminder:  LISTEN to what someone is asking/telling to understand what the other person needs.  A simple:  ‘tell me more’ goes a long way to not wasting time on either end.

Wishing you ‘easy sells’  and interactions filled with connection, calm, and compassionate!

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For Peace: “Practice Friendship with your Enemies” the Adaptive Leadership Way

14 Nov

It’s those lessons people want to teach- but you can’t hear – because the lessons you’ll learn are based on the solutions you’ve earned – working it through your way, based on your problem and situation.

No matter how well-intentioned:  you just can’t tell people what to do…

As a self-anointed financial yenta and communication coach, my seemingly brilliant solutions can’t be dictated or adopted, but rather (personally) adapted.  The key to solving problems is engaging people and “developing their capacity to solve their own problems”.  That’s adaptive leadership.

Imagine: thirst for blood, leading to a blood drive, leading to best baklava bake-offs.

Ron Heifetz, Harvard’s Adaptive Leadership maven shared (NPR’s Nov.  11, 2013  “lessons in Leadership:  It’s not about you (it’s about them) how reframing leadership as problem-solving did just that in the long-standing conflict between Greeks and Turks.  Heifetz and George Papandreou, Greece’s then Foreign Minister  realized  you can’t just tell people to stop hating each other – it has to come from within.

m6840119_763x260-give-blood

Papandreou extended the olive branch by helping Turkey apply for EU membership.  But that’s not personal enough.  In 1999, Turks helped save Greeks after an earthquake, a month later, it was Greeks donating blood for Turk victims.  It was like “friends helping friends”.  It was emotional catharsis.

In recent decades it became evident that emotional needs are often at the core of the conflict and have to be addressed in order to resolve the conflict, how adaptive leadership connects with Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa post-Apartheid, and in Rwanda’s (controversial) Gacaca courts where the Hutu’s and Tutsi’s victims and perpetrators came face to face to discuss atrocities.

Emotions and connection:  “Practice friendship with your enemies”, NYC artist De La Vega’s saying .

Or so it seems to me – leadership, problem-solving, and managing conflict is personal – it’s all about people tuning their individual radio stations to WIIFM:  What’s in it for me, and realizing to get my needs met, I need you (to care or at least look out for me).  It’s easy to see how adaptive leadership can be a powerful approach when improving a performance problem in the workplace or financial challenges in a family.

I heard this NPR story two days after the anniversary of the (official) start of the Holocaust:  November 9, 1938, Kristallnacht or the “Night of broken glass” when Nazi’s took to Berlin streets breaking Jewish storefront windows and burning synagogues.  I started wondering how this approach could be used before neighbor started killing neighbor (Rwanda), or any genocide erupts.

josephine www.rwandanstories.org

“Whoever confessed would see their penalty reduced, because you cannot confess and remain the same. Confessing is something that changes people.”
Josephine, www.rwandanstories.org

After all, the Holocaust began years before Kristallnacht’s broken glass with Nazi youth breaking legs, souls, and lives in the early 1930’s.   After time, research and stories shared, it’s easy (of course) to have an “ah-ha” moment that a modified adaptive leadership approach ala Papandreou and the Turks/Greeks could have stopped Hitler.  Imagine small group facilitations between Jews and Germans talking about needs and emotions…

Naive?  Sure.  But after the “Never Again” Holocaust, genocides continue to happen – again.   Even now, there is rising anti-Semitism across Europe, in places where there are more ghosts than living souls (and yes, Jewish communities are growing across Eastern Europe).   All the more reason I say to have those who “hate” share a coffee with those who are “hated” and actually talk.  Talk about emotions, concerns, fears – those personal things that make us human – and vulnerable.  It’s a chance for people to share their identity and be heard which is astonishingly powerful.  It’s a chance to build empathy and walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.

Connection can cure conflict.  Don’t you think laughter can save a life as powerfully as blood?

Anyway, I’m free to facilitate and help people share stories.  Call me.  Better yet, tweet me (@katz_communicat) – let’s start a revolution.  One conversation at a time!

Guilt? Obligation? Anger? An Alternative

9 Aug

Would you hide me?

I’m obsessed with this question.  Prompted by Nathan Englander’s story: ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” .

Hiding refers (partly) to the physical hiding in the event of another Holocaust.  And really so much more.  The layered morality  in the action to hide another.

Are you trust-worthy?

Luckily, in this day and age,  I have the luxury to view ‘hiding’ as an emotional act.

Hiding as a metaphorical act focuses on words of  kindness and compassion.  These are the words you say to offer safety and escape from sadness, bullying, self-hate, insecurity, loneliness.

It’s as simple as sincerely saying ‘thank you’ and ‘I appreciate you’.  I may help others because it’s the right thing, not to be thanked.  Yet, it feels really good to be acknowledged.   In fact, when someone tells me they appreciate who I am, it makes me feel safe.  It makes me think they would ‘hide me’ when I feel low.

After all in one small way, holocausts, genocides and hate crimes begin with small acts of bullying, disregard, and unkindness.   And bullies often feel insecure themselves.  Bullies need to hear:  ‘You are good.  You have something to offer.”

Advertisement from NYC subway at Transit Museum

Advertisement from NYC subway at Transit Museum.

Unfortunately, people don’t use these three magic words often enough, do they?  How often do you feel unappreciated?

Hiding can be as simple as, “I know you’ve been having a rough time.  How are you?”

I remember a friend, ‘F’, sharing details of a mutual friend’s , ‘melt-down’.  It had to do with roommate issues and ‘F’ had sided with the roommate.  I can still feel my frustration, reminding ‘F’ to think about our friend’s feelings.   I wanted to hide  her and urged ‘F’ to do the same.

Emotional hiding demonstrates character and strength.   It’s ‘walking the talk’.   Likely all of us, if asked, would adamantly say we’d hide another.   But how do you really know:  you don’t.  Emotional hiding is a pretty good indicator though.  As I’ve written before,  I obsessively ask myself this question to become a better person, the person I know I can be.

Recently my calendar presented a dilemma.  Two invitations on the same day:  family wedding and out-of-town friend visit.

Where to go?  Who to please?  See, by nature I am filled with guilt – I like to do what pleases.

By nurture, I am equally filled with obligation – I am told I must do what pleases.  I am told I should feel guilt.

guilt + obligation = anger

Naturally, the anger is all mine – pleasing others doesn’t necessarily please me!

When it comes to obligation, what will it cost to pay my dues?  Must I go in debt and be buried in anger?

Needless to say, relationships are complicated.  Not black and white, but splashed with shades of grey and lots of red.   Yet, when deciding where I would go to be engulfed by comfort and love, I found myself asking:  ‘Who would hide me?’

Which event would I be most surrounded by love?  Where would I be listened to and supported?  

Sitting here safely, I realized:

  • First and foremost I have to feel I’m worth protecting, worth hiding.
  • It’s important to let others know when their words feel judgmental, unkind, hateful, and hurtful.  A simple:  ‘that’s not nice’ works well.

Oh, and terrible as it may sound, if you want me to attend your event:  treat me like I’m worth ‘hiding’ – and, I’ll strive to treat you the same.

 For the first 2 steps in my series in how to prevent genocide (and bullying):

https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/prevent-genocide-and-bullying-12-ways-to-swallow-an-empathy-pill/

https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/6-strategies-to-naked-identity-only-you-can-prevent-genocide-step-1/

https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/only-you-can-prevent-a-genocide-an-introduction-to-6-actions-you-can-take/

Prevent Genocide and Bullying: 12 Ways to Swallow an Empathy Pill

23 Jul

Step 2 of 6… How Only you can prevent Bullying

How many pairs of shoes lurk in your closet and under the bed?

shoes lurking in DSW aisles - heaven for the shoe obsessed

shoes lurking in DSW aisles – heaven for the shoe obsessed

I know shoe obsession goes beyond Imelda Marcos and Carrie Bradshaw.  Not me.  I am foot challenged.

So while I don’t ‘get it’, I think I understand the foot ware obsession:

It’s hard walking a mile in our own shoes:  much less imagining what it’s like to walk in someone else’s.

Unable to walk that proverbial mile in another’s shoes, allows judgment to step in.  Suddenly, it’s harder to understand those blisters, bunions, corns, callous’s that fancy heel-wearer is sporting.

If only it were as easy to try on someone else's perspective!

If only it were as easy to try on someone else’s perspective!

Empathy, like a shoe-horn, slides you into someone else’s shoes.   But I wonder: do we want that kind of pain?  Even if  it’s the pain we can relate to?

It’s easier to look at ‘them’: unemployed, lonely, fired, depressed, awkward, broke, purposely different, fat, alone –  with disdain and distance.  It’s easier to acknowledge:  “That would never happen to ME!”

Like preventing the flu, keeping (emotional) distance is a preventative measure.

If you have to get close, perhaps you think ‘they’ deserve what they got.  Certainly they didn’t work or try hard enough.

It’s like those who said the Holocaust was the Jews fault:  they were too successful, wealthy, powerful.  OR the Tutsi’s had too much power and land.  OR the Armenians were Christians, not to mention well-educated compared to the Turks.  REALLY????

To be fair, genocide doesn’t start with a massacre.  It starts with one painful soul taking his/her frustration out on someone ‘safe’.  It starts with bullying.  ‘Someone’ others also resent.  ‘A different someone’ who thinks:  rather you than me.  Someone who doesn’t want to imagine how it feels to be the recipient of bullying.

Telling someone:  “well you need to:  (man up, lose weight, stop talking about ‘xxx’, get out there more, don’t be so aggressive, be more like you, be less like you)….”

or

“get over it”   is not what that person needs.  It’s what YOU need to keep YOU safe.

Preventing genocide and bullying is understanding and protecting another’s need for safety day-to-day.

That’s why I have always believed the pharmaceutical industry has missed the mark by not creating a magical pill:  an empathy pill.  A pill to offer the judgemental and  naive, the distant and disdainful of those who don’t like and don’t fit into other’s shoes.

When fear and the need to put someone else down overtakes us, we should all learn to say (to ourselves): ‘Here, have an empathy pill.’

Here, have an empathy pill: understand ME! This isn’t about YOU!” Though I’ve always imagined empathy pills shaped like pretty little colored shoes. For men, they can be black loafers and sneakers.  Get your prescription today!

These would be bitter pills to swallow because empathy is a toughie.

Do we really want to stop judging others and give up our safety?  Here are 12 things to consider:

  1. REALIZE you probably have NO idea what the other person is feeling.  Realize that knowing they are in ‘pain’ may be enough.
  2. DON’T say, “I know EXACTLY what you are going through, because do you really?  How can you?
  3. SHARE experiences that are similar but only later, just to let them know that they are not alone.
  4. ASK how you can help to make it better.  Listening helps.  Just listening – to them – not to yourself talking about yourself.
  5. ASK if it’s okay for you to offer a suggestion.  Don’t assume you know what someone else needs.
  6. ASK questions:  even if it’s just ‘tell me more’
  7. DON’T judge.  When you judge, you bully – it’s unkindness.
  8. LISTEN for the underlying emotion, pain and/or issue which you can probably relate to.
  9. DON’T make this about you.  It’s not.   Here’s why:  you don’t know.   What you did or what you would do just doesn’t matter.   You don’t have all the facts even if you’ve been told.
  10. TELL someone you care.  Ask them to tell you more.  Ask them how you can help.
  11. MOST OF ALL: Imagine what it would be like if…  How you would feel if….  How it must be to feel such pain…  What you want from someone if you felt….  What you would want or need from someone if….
  12. STAND UP AND REMIND others to also walk in another’s shoes.  Remind people inflicting pain on others does NOT lessen their own pain.  Not really.  Not for long.
Standing up to prevent bullying is a big deal.

Standing up to prevent bullying is a big deal.

There’s room for all of us in the shoe store of life.  IF we bother to understand someone else’s heel height.

What will you do to understand someone else’s pain and perspective?

Remember:  Only YOU can prevent Bullying

Remember: Only YOU can prevent Bullying

Mourning: Hate, Fear, Heat, Need

16 Jul

“White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this – which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never – the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.”

James Baldwin, “The Fire Next Time”

As the country broils in disbelief and outrage of Zimmerman’s acquittal in the Trayvon Martin killing, as Paula Dean is vilified for her racial ‘slur’, I don’t think it’s as black and white as it seems.  Not our fear, hatred, dislike for others.  Or as Baldwin points out – ourselves.

Today is Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av (month) and the commemoration of the destruction of the Temple(s) in Jerusalem.  A day of mourning for Jews, a day to mourn what was lost, to acknowledge the yearn for what will connect and complete our sense of home, safety, a nation.

Yet Jews who mourn and yearn as a people are engaged in discord (to put it mildly): between Orthodox (particularly Haredi) and the secular/non-religious Jews.  A rift over common beliefs shatters the thread of a shared religion.  Rather a shared religion with different beliefs on how to ‘believe’ in that religion.

Naively, I like to think we don’t all have to believe the same things in the same way.   Especially when it comes to religion (and for me how I practice being Jewish).  But human nature has disproved this fact over the entirety of our existence.

Excavated stones from the Western Wall in Israel from the Roman destruction of the Temple.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tisha_B'Av

Excavated stones from the Western Wall in Israel from the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tisha_B’Av

In Baldwin’s quote:  substitute white and Negro for different groups, different people, and it can apply to any and all people across the world.

the fire next time

The cause for this hate, this distrust, this fear isn’t about the differences in others:  it’s about US learning to accept and like OURSELVES.

As a species we are filled with prejudice.  To kill that prejudice we need to discover what keeps it alive:  fear and insecurity.  

We’re instructed to grab out own oxygen mask before helping even our children in a plane ’emergency’.  It’s always a good reminder to take care of ourselves first.  To care for and about ourselves.

After all, we can’t like or accept anyone else until we like and accept ourselves.

Genocide and bullying are mankind’s perfection of predation. We need to remember: only YOU and I can prevent hate crimes.

FYI:  Tisha B’Av (a few) events over Jewish history from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tisha_B’Av:  and coincidence?  There are no coincidences:

  • The Jews were expelled from Spain on July 31, 1492 (Av 8-9, 5252 AM).[6]
  • On August 2, 1941, (Av 9, 5701 AM) SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution”. Almost 50% of the Jews on the face of the earth were captured and killed at that time.
  • On the 9th of Av, 5702 (July 23, 1942), the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.

5 Strategies for Secure Identity: Only YOU can prevent GENOCIDE (Step 1)

18 May

Talking about 6 steps to prevent genocide…

While walking through Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery  with my friend Julie, she pointed out nobody cares about genocides.  Not really.  After all it will never  happen to them.

This is to prevent forest firest....genocideourcarelessness.jpg

This is to prevent forest firest….genocideourcarelessness.jpg

People care about bullying.

Bullying happens.  A lot.  School yard bullies graduate to board rooms.

Have you ever  teased a little too far or not acted with kindness when you were feeling unhappy or insecure?  Bullies act because they’re insecure.

Bullying and genocide share DNA.  Genocides, the Holocaust, hate crimes – are merely bullying on steroids.

The Holocaust started as aggressive bullying way before Kristallnacht (1938) and Germany’s invasion of Poland  (1939).  It started in 1933 with Hitler Youth learning to spot Jews, and beat up weaker ‘youth’.  Hitler youth turned in parents who didn’t support Hitler.  They learned new songs…

“Yes, when the Jewish blood splashes from the knives, things will go twice as well.”

Scary…

Hitler youth were primed and ready for genocide.  Why did they get so wrapped up in this identity?  What was wrong with their authentic selves?

I wonder how this relates to  branding on Facebook and Twitter in the wild world of social media.

It’s a similar question to why kids  join gangs:  the need to belong.   To be liked.

After the recent Boston bombings, the ‘experts’ chimed in about what makes a terrorist:

“Terrorists are people who are alienated.  They have a confused identity… not ‘x’, not ‘y’… not connected to family or to parents… they find a new identity on the internet…” (summarized and pulled from various sources)

Red flag: people are turning to the internet to build community, AND to discover who they are, or who they want to be. HUH???

“Those who don’t love themselves as they are rarely love life either.”  Rachel Naomi Remen

For self-love, here’s my 5 strategies for secure identities:

disc improves....

Step 1:  KNOW your strengths, weaknesses, challenges.    Learning about yourself can’t be googled.  It’s complex and includes race, religion, gender, nationality, looks, socio-economics, and, our innate personality or what I call ‘naked identity’:  who you are without your ‘stuff’.

The best way to undress your naked identity is through the DiSC assessment tool.  The DiSC uncovers how you behavior, act, react, deal with conflict, work and your natural abilities as well as challenges.

I had an education student who was told to be an engineer – inside he was an English major.  Look around your office/classroom – are people their inside ‘selves’, or doing/being what others expect from them?

I’d put money on the mean, grumbling person not being their DiSC style.  Don’t judge others for not being like you.  Accepting someone else helps them accept you.  Focus on you.

Step 2:  Let your values guide your action

Identify your values (click here to identify yours).   Live them.  Believe me it’s hard.  And realize:  you and I may value ‘relationships’ but define it very differently. Understanding these differences in defining them is what’s key to security.

Step 3: Listen to yourself 

Everyone has an opinion about who you should be and what you should do.   Chances are those ‘everyone’s’ are telling you what they want.   I bet they have a different DiSC style and values than you.    Moments of Awareness  is the best and easiest way to listen carefully.

Your ‘friend’s’ not quite complimentary comment that leaves you wondering how you feel – about the comment, him/her, and yourself?  Listen:  it’s more about the commenter than you.  Listen to yourself.

Step 4:  Care more about yourself 

This may sound selfish – but just the opposite.  You can’t take care of anyone else unless you’re secure in yourself.  Taking care of yourself makes it easier to listen to others.

Step 5:  Don’t be a victim of Identity Theft:  Believe in yourself 

Knowing your DiSC, values, and regularly using Moments of Awareness to assess your feelings, will secure your identity.   If someone makes you doubt yourself, try

confidence-thechangeblog-com

confidence-thechangeblog-com

to understand which of their values aren’t met.  Learn and ‘listen’ if it is in line with YOUR identity.

Step 6:  Share your identity

D., a young American-Korean woman I met in Berlin said it best:  A secure identity means you can explain who you are to others.  Practice till you can.

What is your identity?  

How does knowing your identity keep you from lashing out to others?

What do you think we need to teach others to prevent bullying – and genocides?

Only YOU can prevent a Genocide: An Introduction to 6 actions you can take

2 May

Never Again.  Never again another Holocaust.

Or, Never Again – until, what?  Our human nature overwhelms our humanity?

This year is the 70th anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and marks the official day of Yom HaShoah  or Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Shoah (think Steven Spielberg’s movie) means ‘calamity’ and represents the mass murder of 6 million European Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

Unfortunately. the US Holocaust Museum reminds us, ‘calamities’ aren’t just about the past.  Unexplainable calamities and hate crimes of all types  happen in the present.  Too often, as we’re reminded by the recent act of terror in the Boston bombing.

 And think Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Newton…  Think of all the little kids being teased on the playground – or in board rooms

Never again until it happens again... www.westminster.edu
Never again until it happens again… www.westminster.edu

I know many of  us ask ‘WWID:  What would I do?’  if we were in that position:  an almost impossible question to ask.

A better question: WWID (What will I do) to prevent the next hate crime, was posed at the US Holocaust Museum’s 20th Anniversary Conference.

The good news is there are things each of us can do.   And why I think there needs to be a movement.   And a slogan.

An ‘Only YOU can prevent Genocide, hate crimes, and bullying’.

If there is a slogan to prevent forest fires, why NOT genocide and hate crimes?

How is this for a spokesperson for Only YOU can prevent Genocide, like Smokey did for forest fires.
How is this for a spokesperson for Only YOU can prevent Genocide, like Smokey did for forest fires.
So appropriate! Smokey asks the perfect question why YOU should step up to prevent hate crimes and forest fires! smokey-if-not-you-hubpages-com.jpg
So appropriate! Smokey asks the perfect question why YOU should step up to prevent hate crimes and forest fires! smokeyifnotyou@hubpages-com
As a conflict management facilitator, and during my visit to Auschwitz,  I’ve often asked:  what causes people to hate so much they commit hate crimes: Holocausts and genocides?     (I will say though, it’s not the best conversation starter at parties….)  
But here’s the reason I think each of us are the answer:  Hate crimes start small: with one person’s hate.  The Holocaust is thought of as one murder happening six million times.  That’s a lot of individual acts of hate.  If we look at this as a personal, and individual problem, we can do something about it.  
Yes, I’m optimistic and naive.

So I’m proposing these 6 steps we can all take:

  1. We all need to be secure in our own identity
  2. Fill yourself with Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness
  3. Know and apply history – don’t just learn it
  4. Meet people outside your comfort zone
  5. Stay awake and involved in our global world
  6. Stand up and take action on your beliefs

I’ll be writing about these in the coming weeks.  Before I get started though,  I realized:  We need Constant Reminders

Somehow, we need to keep the danger of genocide front and center (so people will follow these steps).    And there are way too many things competing for our attention every second thanks to social media.

My first thought was Smokey the Bear:

A bookmark reminder!
A bookmark reminder!

But I realize that preventing forest fires is preventing an ACTION!  

Genocides are about THOUGHT, EMOTION, FEAR. 

Fires still start by people.

But we need a specific reminder.  Here’s one thought:

Only YOU can prevent genocide.  A bit inelegant, but a start.
Inelegant, perhaps, but I had to add again…

Images can be powerful, especially in our image filled world.  One ‘Smokey’ image eerily coincided with an anti-genocide message:

Just change the wording: Genocide is caused by carelessness - of words and action.  Prevent hate crimes
I think this is kind of creepy…. Just change the wording: Genocide is caused by carelessness – of words and action. Prevent hate crimes

Next prep:  Sharing stories

I’d like to say we need to learn history and be ‘educated’.  But it seems we’ve tried that.  Stories though, are powerful in learning about the effect of genocide and hate crimes and filling us with a sense of empathy and compassion.  And it’s this emotion we can build on.

The UN Symposium on Preventing Genocide with ‘A Meaningful World’ on April 4th, began with a film:

Starved and ragged men being marched down the streets, officers on horseback rounding them up, children alone and crying on the street, people with bundles of clothing on the street in front of their home.

This was uncomfortably familiar footage:  it looked exactly like what I’d seen from the Holocaust.

neveeragain1915suite101.com

But no, this was from the first genocide of the 20th century:  The Armenian genocide by the Turks in 1915.

Did you know about it?  I didn’t.  How is that possible I had to ask myself.

One speaker shared this thought:  ‘When Hitler was asked about his place in history regarding the murder of Jews he said:

“Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?

Wow!!

And as Dr. Ani Kalayjian, A Meaningful World’s leader said, “When we help another…Both are made stronger.”

What are your reminders to act with kindness, empathy and compassion?

How do you gather stories from others?  What have you learned from them?