Be the Cause

NVC-What is it?

A few weeks ago folks from Be the Cause, South Asian Network, SAHARA, and Center for the Pacific Asian Family collaborated on facilitating a discussion on alternative ways of communicating with one another based on compassion and understanding, also known as nonviolent communication.

We were given this opportunity to dialogue among those who already practice giving of themselves, in a space where spiritual growth and understanding are nurtured. We were blessed to have been received with warmth & open-mindedness.

The workshop consisted of three groups, children, youth, and adults. The children created beautiful, colorful paintings after a discussion about managing our feelings in a healthy way. The kids were able to talk about anger, a natural feeling that can lead to unhealthy ways of coping, and what they choose to do instead to express themselves in healthier ways. The youth group consisted mostly of boys, with one girl. Again, the topic of anger was discussed, and how we see portrayals of anger management in the media and sports. The adult workshop varied in that we talked a lot about parenting, particularly respecting children’s individual identities, as well as interacting with co-workers and spouses in ways where everyone’s needs get met.

Nonviolent communication takes into consideration that we all come from a place of wanting to be heard and understood. Towards these efforts, we try to understand one another’s feelings and needs. When we begin to change our thinking and realize that every single one of us sets out everyday to fulfill a basic human need, we also change the way we view one another, and can begin to relate to each other on another level.

For me, this philosophy has been transforming. It definitely has been a work in progress. To know that we can communicate with one another through compassion, without judgement, has been a freeing experience. To incorporate these ideas and practice them has been challenging. Unfortunately, we are not raised to relate to one other with patience, spending more time than necessary in speaking with another to truly understand. However, this framework allows us a chance to connect in ways that most of us haven’t yet.

To learn more about nonviolent communication check out Marshall Rosenberg’s website at

Change of Heart – Food for Thought

Below are some powerful statistics (collected by Sonali) that gave us something to think about throughout the Change of Heart Weekend.

* We have the means! The financial costs to end hunger are relatively slight. The UN Development Program estimates that the basic health and nutrition needs of the world’s poorest people could be met for an additional $13 billion a year. Animal lovers in the United States and Europe spend more than that on pet food each year. Bread for the World, 2008

* The poorest and most marginalized groups in the world are small-holder farmers and rural landless people in the developing world; they make up three quarters of the undernourished or hungry people in the world.
Bread For The World, 2008

* If all the food produced worldwide were distributed equally, every person, man, woman, and child, would be able to consume enough calories per day that no one would have to go hungry. “Imagine,” as John Lennon said. But of course, food is not distributed equally; it’s hardly even close. Bread For The World, 2008

* In 2006, about 10 million children died before they reached their fifth birthday. Almost all of these deaths occurred in developing countries – 3/4 of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the two regions that also suffer from the highest rates of hunger. Most of these deaths are attributed, not to outright starvation, but to diseases that move in on vulnerable children whose bodies have been weakened by hunger.
Bread For The World, 2008

* 4 percent of U.S. households experience hunger. Some people in these households frequently skip meals or eat too little, sometimes going without food for a whole day. 11.1 million people, including 430 thousand children, live in these homes. Bread For The World

* In 2007, an average of 26.5 million people used food stamps each month. Bread For The World, 2008

* 1 = 10. For every minute that you eat, ten children die of hunger and malnutrition.

* More than 800 million people go to bed hungry every day. Of these, only 8 per cent are victims of famine or other emergency situations. More than 90 per cent are suffering long-term malnourishment and micronutrient deficiency. UN Millennium Project.

* More than 2.6 billion people – over 40 per cent of the world’s population – do not have basic sanitation, and more than one billion people still use unsafe sources of drinking water. UN Millennium Project, 2008

* Every year, six million children die from malnutrition before their fifth birthday. UN Millennium Project, 2008

* Today, the silent killers of poverty, hunger and easily preventable diseases, claimed the lives of some 26,500 children in the world.

That is equivalent to:

• 1 child dying every 3 seconds
• 18 children dying every minute
• A 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring every week
• An Iraq-scale death toll every 15–36 days
• Almost 10 million children dying every year Some 60 million children dying between 2000 and 2006

In spite of the scale of this daily/ongoing catastrophe, it rarely manages to achieve, much less sustain, prime-time, headline coverage.

* To satisfy all the world’s sanitation and food requirements would cost only $13 billion, hardly as much as the people of the United States and the European Union spend each year on perfume. Ignacio Ramonet, “The Politics of Hunger.”

* Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
If current trends continue, the Millennium Development Goals target of halving the proportion of underweight children will be missed by 30 million children, largely because of slow progress in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. United Nations, Human Development Report, 2008.

* In the U.S., 40-50% of all food ready for harvest never gets eaten; the impact of this waste is not just financial. Environmentally this leads to:

• Wasteful use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides
• More fuel used for transportation;
• More rotting food, creating more methane — one of the most harmful greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change.
“Costing the Earth,” BBC Radio, 2007

* 26,500-30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.” UNICEF, 2006

* Worldwide, almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day. United Nations Development Report, 2006

* Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished, almost two-thirds of whom reside in Asia and the Pacific. World Resources Institute, 2004

* About 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes. This is one person every three and a half seconds. United Nations, 2007

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