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This is the expression of vital energy manifested in human beings since their infancy: an essential for life, a vital energy, which at first is neutral. It is expressed in struggle, in force, in creativity, in non-violence, altruism, etc. Aggressiveness must be “educated”. Without education, this energy will be expressed by negative behaviour, destructive to others. Common sense usually interprets aggression in a negative manner. The task of all education is to channel and transform this energy into creativity, to serve noble causes. Aggressiveness should be distinguished from violence.
Non-violent communication (NVC) is primarily an attitude in which one tries to work on the specific violence in each human being. From this awareness, one develops a more intelligent way of reacting in conflicts, and slowly, one acquires the method of non-violence. Based on empathy –the ability to listen profoundly to someone, to reflect on his observations, needs and demands – non-violent communication which renders us conscious of what the other person lives and senses each instant. NVC invites us to assume responsibility for our actions. Through the clarity with which we express our needs, we can avoid projecting our feelings onto others, and in time we become accustomed to a real autonomy.
One can speak of conflict with various notions that do not have the same meaning: in Latin, “conflictus” signifies a confrontation, a clash between opposing forces. The oldest current meaning is negative, in the direction of violence (also physical), disagreement and failure. But this meaning is not unique because the word conflict may also contain the concept of opportunity expressing duality, the destructive or constructive aspect, depending on the manner it is managed. Conflict is part of life. In this work, educational methods that we propose can prevent conflict and the best prevention is undertaken through education. It is also a question of transformation, restitution and the management of conflicts. All differences of views, values and opinions can become a conflict. The conflict is therefore the result of a confrontation of opposing wills between two or more parties, or groups. We can speak of transformation of conflict if we change our image and reactions towards conflict. In spite of a negative image, which we may have, conflict is neither good nor bad. According to the manner by which we handle and attempt to resolve it, the results will be either destructive or constructive for the person concerned. Conflict can have positive functions and consequences that permit the construction of more just relations reaffirming “common rule” in a group, and be the source of development for individuals’… The resolution of conflict is undertaken by dialogue. To develop humanly or to live together, we need language contact. It is in the resolution of conflict that each one of us can be recognised. Mediation, negotiation, techniques of non-violent communication and others, are tools for non-violent transformation and resolution of conflicts.
Culture of Peace
The concept of culture of peace was formulated at the International Congress on Peace in the Mind of Man, held in Africa (Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, 1989). In the final declaration, the Congress recommended Unesco to “(…) contribute to the construction of a new vision of peace by developing a culture of peace, on the basis of the universal values of respect for life, liberty, justice, solidarity, tolerance, human rights and equality between women and men”. The term “culture of peace” was inspired by the initiative Cultura de paz which was launched in Peru in 1986 and by the Seville Declaration on violence, of the same year. (A/RES/52/13)
Empathy, a value upon which is based all the educational methods on peace and non-violence is the key to comprehending what others experience. According to the Chinese philosopher Tchouang-Tseu, real empathy exists when one listens with one’s entire being. “To listen through hearing is one thing. To listen intellectually is another. But to listen with the mind is not limited to the sole faculties of hearing or intellectual comprehension. It requires a state of vacuity of all faculties. When this state is reached, the entire being can then listen attentively. One then succeeds to grasp directly what is essential to us, that which can never be heard with the ear or understood by the mind.”
Negotiation takes place between the two conflicting parties without the intervention of a third party (see Mediation).
One definition of this term is « …a situation in which the ability for a participant to reach his objective depends widely on the choices and decisions of his opponent. It is important for the negotiator to comprehend and listen to the view of the other party as well as putting forth his own point of view. What perspective does he have in mind? What choices does he make? The key to the success of a successful negotiation resides in the capacity for the negotiators to gain confidence in one another.
This term originates Ahimsa in Sanskrit as employed in Buddhism and Hinduism. « …The “a” prefix of this word is negative and “himsa” signifies to harm and abuse a human being. The ahimsa is therefore the absence of all desire of violence, which is respect in form, word and deed, for life and every living being.(6)” Non-violence rejects passivity and violent reaction as a means of struggle; it is active non-violence ethically based on the power of truth (satyagraha, in Sanskrit). Active non-violence aims at transforming the negative force of aggressiveness into a positive force.
Mahatma Gandhi is celebrated as the greatest leader of non-violence. Gandhi influenced other important movements, such as the Civil Rights movement for the Black Population represented by Martin Luther King Jr.
Mediation, like the aforementioned concepts (violence, peace, etc.) has several definitions. When a non-violent technique of conflict resolution is stated, one is speaking of social political, interpersonal and cultural mediation.
With regards to the philosophical definition “of articulation between two beings or two terms of a dialect process or in a process of reasoning(7)”, we wish to define mediation as a process which aims to assist the person in conflict to find the necessary skills to resolve this conflict. Mediation is always managed by a third party, the mediator “who assists the parties in conflict, who are imprisoned in their monologues, to meet and take up communication again” without obligation to reach a result.(8) Mediation in education has a transforming visualization on the aggressiveness (and violence) of the subject. We speak of mediation by peers when the mediator comes from the same environment and age group as the parties in conflict. (i.e.: mediators represented by youth in schools)
When one speaks of violence one should speak of violence in the plural: physical, psychological, cultural, verbal, economic, structural violence…and equally of the ambivalent and contradictory, modes of expression that one must learn to identify and take into consideration.(9) The Indo-European, Greek and Latin roots of the word violence convey the idea of life, vital spirit, that which is natural. As with the concept of conflict, violence also has two scales, one beneficial, and the other destructive. In its negative meaning, violence is a brutal force that one person imposes on another or to others including coercion exercised by means of intimidation and terror. There is a distinction to be made between aggressiveness and violence:
These two concepts are not of the same nature because violence implies the elimination of the other.(10)
(6) Jean-Marie Muller, Le principe de non-violence, Desclée de Brouwer, 1995
(7) Le petit Larousse illustré, Dictionnaire Encyclopédique, 1993
(8) La médiation, Non-violence Actualité, Montargis, 1993
(9) Non-Violence Actualité, Conflit, mettre hors-jeu la violence: Chronique Sociale, 1997
(10) M. Jacquet-Montreuil, C. Rouhier, Apprenons à vivre ensemble, Les éditions de la cigale, 2000
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