Disagreement is common in movement work as in all aspects of life. It has the potential to dig us in and cement disunity. But it can also help us to arrive at our best thinking and move us forward to stronger consensus and more effective strategy and action.
Our personal, cultural, and historical experiences set us up to have intense feelings when we disagree that make it very difficult to sift through what is emotion and what is thinking. It can make us lose our human connection with those we disagree with.
In this hands-on workshop we will consider and try out tools for listening more effectively when we disagree. By practicing these tools with fellow organizers we can listen better to those we want to organize. These include:
1) Decisions and agreements we can make about how we listen to each other, such as taking equal turns to speak.
2) Agreements we can make about our inherent goodness and humanity that will help us listen.
3) Listening practices we can use to support each other to recognize the tense emotional feelings attached to our early experiences around disagreement and heal from them.
In this workshop we will practice these tools in the context of care of the environment. We are part of Sustaining All Life (SAL), an international grass-roots organization dedicated to ending human-caused destruction of the environment and the exploitation and oppression of people that cause these destructive processes. SAL does this work in the context of ending all divisions between people. SAL uses the tools of Re-evaluation Counseling to provide sustained mutual support that people use to free themselves from the discouragement, isolation, and other internal struggles resulting from oppression. When we free ourselves from the effects of oppression we can listen better to arrive at more effective and united strategies.