Respectful Communication Makes the World Go Round
Happy New Year!
On Setting Intentions
What a year it’s going to be! I don’t know about you, but my intentions for this year are very clear: Have more fun with my family and work, connect with more like-minders and make more of an impact by saving as many animals as I can.
For that, I’ve defined a few objectives: Publish Lily Bowers and The Uninvited Guest, create an online course for my business to help ethical brands with their marketing strategy, start working on a book on how to create an ethical marketing strategy, give back to more animal and nature conservation efforts, take a voluntary trip to an animal rescue sanctuary in Africa, sponsor and judge the Be The Change Awards in London in the Brands That Give Back category, present my topic of how to market for animals and nature in an online ethical marketing summit, etc.
That’s just a few things on the business side, I also have many plans with my friends and family and money pit house! We still have to decide on where to go on vacation, organize a few day and long weekend trips, get the photovoltaic unit installed this month and finally get the basement finished as we want a huge family game room and I’m tired of looking at concrete floors and abandoned spider webs! Yes, I’d rather see the web dwellers than what they leave behind!
What about you?
My intentions and objectives defined above are not just random things I want to do. They all align with my vision of living in a peaceful and respectful world.
I envision a world of healthy choices and opportunities for all animals, humans included. One with no more child labor, sweatshops, animal abuse and testing, pesticides, GMOs and harmful chemicals on the foods, clothes, meds and products we consume. And a world without poverty and war.
Do I believe in fairy dust? Absolutely!
But I also believe in the power of people and the changes we can create together!
What Kind of a Message Do You Want To Send?
If you have a similar vision, let me ask you, how are you trying to make it come true?
When I reflected on last year and planned this new year, I thought about how I can help create a kinder world. One way is to collaborate with like-minded people because I can’t carry this burden on my shoulders alone and neither can you. We have to work together.
I also thought of how to communicate my message because where there is understanding, there is love.
And that’s where things can go wrong. Seriously wrong because communication is key. If I’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s to watch my language! I’m not talking about swearing. I’m talking about respectful communication.
How to Create the World You Want to Live In
Being the emotional empath that I am, I can get into heavy conversations because it breaks my heart when harm is done to innocent animals, human included.
With the political split in my native US and in Europe where I now live, it’s challenging for me to stay calm because I feel those in power and those who support them want something else which breaks my heart even more.
Since I was taught to speak up and tell my truth, I tripped a few times and had to learn the hard way how to speak without upsetting others. It’s still a work in progress.
I was called a Nazi because I live in Germany, I was told I had no voice in the US election because I’m an expat and was unfriended by a close relative and a few not so close FB friends because I don’t agree with the current US administration.
Thing is, I’m not patriotic because I’ve been here for 23 years and my heart and soul belong to the Earth and Universe and loved ones, not to any government. Of course I pay my taxes, in both countries, but I feel no ‘allegiance’ to a flag and this seriously upsets some Americans.
And, I’m a vegan which upsets some people, too. More on that below.
Fact is: Every human has their own values and views and that’s a good thing, because with our differences, we have the power to help create the respectful diverse world we want to live in together.
But, we can only create this world if we respect each other at all times, even those who think differently.
How Inspiration Creates Change
I cannot write a blog post about respectful communication without thanking my dear friend, Friderike Hirsch-Wright, for turning me on to Marshall Rosenberg. If you have 3 hours to spare, please listen to one of his seminars on non-violent communication. This quote of his that sticks in my mind is “Enemy images are the main reason conflicts don’t get resolved.”
Sometimes we have a hard time looking past our differences and only see our ‘right’ from their ‘wrong’. This can turn into a nasty argument where no one wins.
But this isn’t a game. This is life. And we all want a better world for ourselves and future generations. We just have different ideas of what that world looks like and how to achieve this but if we all want to thrive in a diverse, free and peaceful world, remaining tolerant and respectful is vital. And I still believe it’s OK to get angry and vent, as long as it’s not a personal attack.
How can we create a kinder world?
To educate is to tell others about a particular topic.
To inspire is to show others how an idea or action can enrich their lives.
Let us inspire.
Angry Vegans vs. Guilty Omnivores
As an example, I want to talk about veganism because it’s a very personal topic that seems to attract violent communication and honestly, I’m sick of politics so don’t want to used that as an example again.
Short background: I wasn’t born a vegan. I was forced to eat bone dry chicken and wash it down with lukewarm powdered milk because we couldn’t afford real milk, let alone quality beef, so our homemade burgers contained many bone chips which made me gag.
This seed was planted: Meat + Milk = Gross!
Another seed was planted: My parents taught me to respect animals and nature. I spent a lot of time in the woods in our backyard on Long Island in New York. We often went camping and my mom rescued, cared for and released many wild animals.
These seeds were nurtured and turned me into a pesche vegetarian in 1992, a vegetarian in 2012 and vegan in 2016. It took me a LONG time to turn vegan. All I can say is cheese.
Veganism: oh, how this topic triggers!
Many times when I eat with others, I get asked why I’m a vegan. I give a simple answer: Because I don’t want to support the cruelty in the food industry.
That’s my answer. Plain and simple and understood, but wow, it triggers and I think I know why.
When I say that above, the tone of the rest of the conversation depends on who I’m talking to and how they feel about the treatment of farm animals. It’s not about me, it’s about them.
And that’s why I wrote ‘Guilty Omnivores’ above — having a double meaning: 1) I’ve read many comments from (angry) vegans who blame/point fingers and demonize non-vegans for supporting animal cruelty, perhaps forgetting that they weren’t born a vegan and had to go through some kind of a journey to become one themselves and 2) many non-vegans react defensively around this topic, even when they bring it up.
Because let’s be honest, no one in their right mind wants this cruelty. After I answer the why question, some tell me why they aren’t vegan which makes me wonder. You only make excuses if you feel a little guilty, right?
I’ve been there. I felt guilty for eating fish and made excuses as to why I ate it. Silly really because I don’t need any excuses as to why someone eats what they eat and I certainly didn’t need to make excuses to myself. I realized I either need to be OK with fish or not and I chose not. And I tell people that I have no judgement, it’s just the one thing I can control, what goes in and on my body and I don’t want any harm done in the process.
And hey, I love my omnivore family and friends! Are they evil? NO! Was I evil when I wasn’t a vegan? NO!
It’s sad though. I see a lot of aggression about veganism on social media and my heart bleeds when angry vegans yell about murdering as much as when omnivores comment on vegan-related posts with animated gifs of someone slowly cutting roast beef.
“Spread Hummus, Not Hate” ~ Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum
Respectful Communication in Progress
What we need more of is respectful communication, like this and this! Two incidents when a farmer and slaughterhouse owner released their animals with animal rights activists after they sat down and talked to each other. After they found common ground. And understood each other. This is success and we need more of it.
Vegans are a rare breed and all we want is to save as many animals as possible.
This compassion does not make us holier than thou — or weird. We just want to eat in peace.
Eating meat does not make omnivores evil — or murderers. They just want to eat in peace.
This is where we need to agree.
My heart would sing if we discontinue viewing animal cruelty as normal, so that we can start working towards creating a kinder world.
If we all respect Mother Nature and all she takes care of, we would be at peace with ourselves. If we are at peace with ourselves, we are at peace with others. When that happens, we would have world peace. I firmly believe that.
We’re far from world peace, but we can start taking the steps by communicating respectfully with each other and find a better solution so that the industries will start to improve conditions.
For the love of all living beings:
All opinions matter and we need to speak with respect to create change.
Inspire ’em with kindness.
So, what’s it gonna be: Spread hummus or spread hummus with guacamole?
Have you had some difficult conversations about your values, political views or what you eat? Please comment below and let’s talk !
Peace and love,
Originally published at jesslohmann.com on January 8, 2019.