I have written about how the guidelines of the circle are a set of expectations to follow in order for a positive peaceful resolution to occur. But (the big BUT), what if people ignore the guidelines, whether it be due to emotional trauma, confusion or anger? What if conflict causes one to speak out of turn, disagree, disrupt the guidelines or overstep boundaries and thus treat others in the circle negatively and at the same time lose his or her own integrity? Losing one's integrity is the price one pays when disrespecting the circle guidelines and one must answer to his/her own woes while looking in the mirror. There is no excuse for disrespectful behaviour in the circle and under these circumstances peaceful communication is, beyond a doubt, hard work for all involved.
Whether i be a circle facilitator or a participant, it is my intention to take full responsibility to acknowledge an error of disrespectful behaviour and/or misdirected judgement. Through acknowledgement, one becomes vulnerable and when one is courageous enough to reveal their vulnerabilities by admitting their wrongs in (and out of) the circle, then opportunity rises for healing to begin. When one acknowledges their disrespect to others in the circle, then the act of disrespect becomes a good teacher for all involved and integrity is offered space to save face.
Circle Sharing is a complex process. Among each of its' members, there is a diversity of life experiences attached, cultural differences and/or cell memory from lifetimes past to mitigate.
The Circle Resolution process, is just that- a process. One must remember that there are no two circles alike. There are times when the circles do not work for everyone and one needs to accept and walk away until all feel safe to return- if they return at all. It is a difficult part of the process to accept that there will be no resolution. Accepting that there will not be reconciliation is a process of its own. Time heals but at the same time, there is no specific time-line for the healing process to occur. One needs to sit and reflect in patience until the healing process comes around full circle in every sense of the word- and it may take generations before reconciliation to occur, or resolution may happen in a 20 minute circle sharing experience. To each his/her own healing process.
If it is not the right time for people to come to terms together, then it's time for all parties to leave the circle, go back to their corners to reflect on their own responsibilities for wrong doings and/or right doings. When people are able to speak from the heart, listen from the heart and represent themselves without placing blame and shame onto others, then a resolution may be the result.
Communication can be very complex. I have my circle work cut out for me, answer to my faults, integrity and dignity to uphold.
It is never too late to call a circle.
The Aboriginal Histories lecture series with Elder Lecturer Robert Lovelace of Queens University gifted the listening audience with an insightful understanding of Aboriginal knowledge systems and how Aboriginal ways of viewing the world opens up fresh and creative ideas that can be applied universally: "Indigenous languages are embedded with interpretations of the world as seen by those who use them. Metropolitan languages like modern English, French, Japanese, Mandarin, etc. by contrast are constructed architecturally to express hierarchical ideologies. Understanding this difference is integral to recognizing the variance between Knowledge systems."
The following excerpt of Robert Lovelace's lectures was received by approximately 40 enthusiastic students following the Lanark County Reconciliation movement:
The first peoples' primary means of communication to express their belief systems of Respect and Sharing was reliant on the Indigenous oral language- the first people were true to their word. One going against his word lived without trust, mutual respect and responsibility. Individual expression, freedom in dance, drumming, song and story were and still are highly valued in the community. Indigenous people codify laws through ritual and ceremony and direct face to face contact was to pass knowledge and information along from generation to generation.
The focus on Respect as the quality of courtesy, consideration and esteem which extended through to their language and culture. Closely related to Mutual Respect is the principle of Sharing: the giving and receiving of benefits. Indigenous governance is dependent on consensus and leadership and is characteristic of strength, generosity and tolerance. Sharing must take a form that enhances, rather than diminishes, people’s capacity to contribute to the whole. Transfers that perpetuate relations of dependency, are not the long term solution, rather, the deepest meaning of Responsibility means actualizing through conscious and deliberate effort the principles of Mutual Recognition, Respect and Sharing. Responsibility does not mean taking blame...it means taking action. Sharing and reciprocity are important components of many Aboriginal world views.. Responsibility is demonstrated in working for the benefit of yourself and for the others who help to define you. Balance and reciprocity are the objectives and Indigenous laws correlate with natural laws and natural consequences.. (Robert Lovelace Aboriginal History Lectures).
Upholding the responsibility of being true to your word, and raising ones respectful awareness in communication in a non-hierarchal manner will depend on the practice and discipline of face to face contact with our fellow humans. Practicing face-to-face empathetic restorative communication (such as Talking Circles) establishes a reorganization of values and trust with the people present. Appreciating the simple act of mutual sharing of each own's contribution to the whole exemplifies balance and reciprocity.. This balance of respect is a cornerstone to actualizing our conscious efforts to re-establish community not only with each other but within our ecological landscape. Our efforts alongside time and patience establishes an equilibrium shift into a holistic governance that is based on a leadership in sharing strength, generosity, responsibility, mutual recognition and reciprocity.
It is time to take action and time to learn and understand how ancient practices within our local aboriginal history of culture can assist in our practice of Respect as a quality in equality, in courtesy and in consideration for all in need of a caring and sharing community.
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