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Monday, September 30, 2013

No, non, nyet!

We can all find something to criticize in the way civilization is going. "No, non, nyet," we say all day long, on blogs, forums, and social media. But the Buddhist principle of  "right saying" suggests another approach we can try, more closely related to a saying I've often heard: "Is it kind? Is it true? is it necessary? Then go ahead and say it."

In a tree-planting labor cooperative of which I was a member in the 1970s-80s, we had a practice (consciously borrowed from Marxism), used in crew meetings or the twelve-crew General Meetings, of "Criticism/Self Criticism."

In a crew meeting one might say, "I criticize Risa for hogging up the gravy on the other side of the slash patch in the draw on the unit today, but I also criticize myself for waiting until now to say something -- I was afraid of pointing it out in front of the inspectors but what I should have done was climb across the draw and explain what was bothering me, out of their hearing."

To which Risa might respond the patch was so small she thought doing it all herself would keep the others from having to clamber across the slick broken logs for so little income, but also criticize herself for not having voiced that terrain tactic openly, perhaps offering it to someone else to take on. 

In this way the common loop of accusation/rejoinder at least has a chance of providing all parties with a chance at new insight.

Using such a communication strategy can strengthen a group taking on a permacultural design exercise, or a crew carrying out work within a permaculturally designed setting, converting potential conflict (a weakness) into a problem-solving process of discovery (a strength).


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