From Our Executive Director, Jacqueline Hicks, Newsletter Nov. 2016:
When someone behaves violently or hatefully, it becomes challenging to find ways to rebuke the behavior without rejecting the person. Yet, this is the very challenge facing many students and teachers in their classrooms today, prompted in part by the divisive election we have just experienced. I am sure that I am not alone with my anxiety about the changes occurring with the selection of our new president. Using congruence, empathy, and unconditional positive regard (the elements of PCA) have helped me understand my anxiety. At the heart of it, I am unsure how to include myself in what seems an unpredictable, scary future. On one hand, I see all around me others who are feeling worried and fearful, angry, and violent. Sometimes, I feel that way too. On the other hand, I see people who are jubilant, hopeful, and anticipating improvements in their lives. I hope for that too. Half the population thinks, vehemently, the other half is wrong in their beliefs, and vice versa. Colleagues, and other wise souls, offer empathy as a way of healing this great divide.
I believe that empathy is necessary. When I listen to someone who opposes my viewpoint and I understand that person so well that they are satisfied with my understanding, a door to new possibilities opens between us. I really like it when someone who see things differently than I do feels safe to express their true feelings and beliefs with me. I appreciate the gift of knowing a part of them. I realize that in addition to empathy, taking care with my words, and being responsible when I voice my feelings and opinions, has a lot to do with how safe someone else feels when they are sharing with me. I endeavor to speak authentically about my own experience, leaving aside blame and criticism of others. I am in charge of my fears and my hopes; I am responsible for my anger and my joy. I am present for all that is possible with another.
I am concerned about how students and teachers and all of us are feeling as we deal with the unpredictability of the current transition in our government. I hope we can be kind to each other, listen to each other, and seek to recognize that we are more the same than we are different.
As we begin our Holiday Season, consider that situations are rarely as bad as we fear, or as good as we hope, and that gratitude is healing.
Gratitude for Friends and Family
By Mary Maude Daniels
To our friends who have become family,
and our family who have become friends —
May you be blessed with the same
love and care you’ve given us.