Thursday, October 4, 2012

Talking about Money and Privilege

by Miki Kashtan

Some time ago I was sitting with a group of Nonviolent Communication enthusiasts on a cold winter night, watching the fireplace crackle, eating, laughing, and talking. The group invited me to support their development as a leadership group of their community. A few years before they had gotten together to make NVC known and visible in their town. When I was visiting, they were celebrating their success, as more and more people in their town came to know about NVC through their efforts and have come to trainings they organize. Now they wanted to take their work to a new level, to break free of the social homogeneity of their group and its members, to reach into communities and populations they had not yet connected with. That was what they wanted my support for.

I regularly sit with groups like this in different places in the world. I also sometimes get emails and questions from people around the world. The enthusiasm, the vision, and the willingness to put energy and resources into work towards such dreams touch me deeply. This particular conversation was so extraordinary for me, that I feel moved to bring its content to others, changing circumstances and location so as to keep the anonymity of people and allowing them to do what I experienced as sacred work in peace.

I want this anonymity because we engaged with one of the biggest taboos in the country: money. It started out entirely innocuously, when I described to them my pet project (which I am inching my way to making more publicly known beyond just doing it myself) of a maximum wage campaign. The idea of it is simple: each person that wants to join the campaign decides - for themselves, without any hint of suggestions about it - what is the amount truly needed for them to have in order to sustain themselves and their families at a level that allows them to focus where they want to focus, and declare that to be their maximum wage. Any time they end up generating more income than their maximum, they pledge to give that amount away, to whatever cause they choose.