Tuesday, 09 May 2023 09:39

Non Violent Communication to Sustain Religious Coexistence

A training programme on Non Violent Communication (NVC) was carried out for 52 Local Inter Religious Committee (LIRC) members of the Bandarawela LIRC under NPC’s Action for Religious Coexistence (ARC) project. By enhancing NVC skills it is expected that these community leaders will use the knowledge gained to mediate and solve existing issues in their areas.

In divided societies, people tend to live in their own circles in which misunderstandings and doubts about the other communities can easily come to the fore. NPC provides a number of forums by which people from different communities can interact with each other in a facilitated and safe environment.

In a world that is rich in diversity, the coexistence of various religious beliefs and practices is both a challenge and an opportunity. Religion has the power to inspire individuals, build communities and provide a sense of purpose and belonging. However, religious diversity can also lead to conflicts and tensions if not approached with understanding, empathy and respect.

Effective communication is vital for promoting religious coexistence. By focusing on the needs and values underlying each person's beliefs, NVC encourages the exploration of common ground and shared values. This approach helps dismantle barriers and stereotypes, fostering an environment of trust and mutual respect.

The participants of the training programme gained a clear understanding of how to effectively engage with individuals who harboured negative feelings. They were taught the significance of effective communication and the way of practicing these skills in conflict mitigation.

We were able to establish effective connections with other religious leaders by engaging in group activities. The training provided practical knowledge and guidance and will assist us in our jobs. In a multi-religious society like Bandarawela, understanding the root cause of conflicts without judgment is vital. By sharing ideas, emotions and needs through NVC, we can identify the needs of conflicting parties and address them directly. Conflict resolution is not a magical process; it requires practical work. Communication forms the backbone of this process," said R.M.G. Bandara, Grama Niladhari in Baddekumbura.

Religious differences can often lead to conflicts as people feel threatened or misunderstood. NVC offers an effective framework for conflict resolution. Instead of resorting to aggression or violence, individuals can use NVC techniques to address disagreements and find solutions. Through active listening, empathetic expression and collaborative problem solving, conflicts can be transformed into opportunities for growth, understanding and reconciliation.

“As police officers, we are exposed to numerous conflicts on a daily basis. Through our interactions with individuals involved in these conflicts, we have come to recognise that lack of communication and hate speech are at the root of many issues. People often struggle to identify and express their genuine needs and emotions to others, which can sometimes result in tragic outcomes, including acts of violence. These training sessions have enabled us to reflect on our own shortcomings. We must avoid making hasty judgments and instead focus on improving our listening skills,” said M.A.R.P. Gunawardhana, a women police inspector from Bandarawela.