Peace achievable word by word

Words, not weapons, are being promoted to peacefully resolve Zimbabwe’s political, social and economic woes. In this four-part series we examine a new publication that is having a huge impact on peace-making in rural communities.

Africa Community Publishing and Development Trust’s (ACPD) latest offering Soft Strength – Peace-building for Development provides a pathway for communities to civilly explore contentious issues.

The ACPD booklet – like its previous books- uses thought-provoking pictures, posters and proverbs to generate lively discussion on peace-building for development.

Chief among several key concepts in the book, which is being distributed throughout the country, is the importance of constructive communication – involving all concerned parties.

Defined as freedom of expression, access to information, active listening, critical evaluation and positivity and based on respect, it is acknowledged as “the basis of peace and democratic development”.

“Constructive communication is the communication that values and respects each person, bridges the divisions between people and leads to real understanding,” the book says.

“Communication is the missing link which causes conflict to degenerate into violence.”

Using the philosophies of successful pacifist campaigners, the guidebook encourages parties to seek resolution by firstly not recognising conflicting positions as a confrontation between two persons or positions, but a shared problem.

Using words like ‘we’ and ‘our’ are suggested as methods of eliminating feelings of conflict generated by the use of ‘me’ and ‘you’.

Adopting author M.B. Rosenberg’s framework for non-violent communication, the book encourages participants to conduct interactions which “lead us to give from the heart”.

“Practically speaking, non-violent communication guides us to reframe the way we express ourselves and listen to others by focusing … on four areas: what we and others are observing, feeling and needing and what we and others are requesting to enrich our lives,” the book says.

“Its objective is to establish relationships based on honesty and empathy that will fulfil everyone's needs.”

In a four-part series, based on the key recommendations of APCD’s expert contributors, The Zimbabwean will share its roadmap toward democratically tackling the country’s prevailing challenges. – In the next article; fostering constructive relationships.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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