Collaborative Practice and Dr. Martin Luther King

The notion of “Nonviolence” is associated with Dr. King.  In reading an excerpt from one of his speeches, I realized that his ‘Pilgrimage to Nonviolence’ is also readily applicable to the work at hand in choosing Collaborative Practice.  I adopt his six ‘basic facts’ about Nonviolence as quoted here:  In place of ‘nonviolent resistance’ I substitute ‘Collaborative Practice’ and add some comments.

“First, it must be emphasized that (Collaborative Practice) is not a method for cowards; it does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence,  he is not truly (engaged in Collaborative Practice). This is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight … The method is passive physically, but strongly active spiritually.”

   If you are simply afraid of litigation, think twice about using Collaborative Practice.  It will require your active engagement and clear, though nonviolent statements of your needs going forward.  Not your wants, not what anyone else says you ‘should’ need or want, YOUR best needs going forward. 

“A second basic fact that characterizes (Collaborative Practice) is that it does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding… The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness.”

An underlying goal and benefit of Collaborative Practice is that it recognizes that you and your soon-to-be-ex WILL have a ‘relationship’ after the divorce.  This is just as true if you use litigation or mediation, or whether or not you have children together, or even whether you ever actually see each other again.  Collaborative Practice supports you in creating a workable, peaceful relationship going forward.

“A third characteristic of (Collaborative Practice) is that the attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil … We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may be unjust.”

“A fourth point that characterizes (Collaborative Practice) is a willingness to accept suffering without retaliation….”

“A fifth point concerning (Collaborative Practice) is that it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. (Collaborative Practice) not only refuses to shoot [the] opponent but … also refuses to hate him.”

None of these three are easy.  We are none of us perfect.  At times your soon-to-be-ex, or one of the professionals, may say something that upsets or insults or hurts you.  S/he may have already done so.  And you will find many people, who do not have to live with the relationship you are creating with your soon-to-be-ex, urging you to hate attack or retaliate ‘because s/he is EVIL’ or some other word.  In Collaborative Practice, we work to resist the urge to take ‘an eye for an eye’.  Insults sent never undo insults received and always elicit more insults.  And anger and hatred are never successfully ‘hidden’ or ‘held onto’  We realize that none of those urges will benefit YOU and we support you in recognizing so and avoiding them.

“A sixth basic fact about (Collaborative Practice) is that it is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice. Consequently,     (Collaborative Practice)has deep faith in the future.”

It is the focus on the future that is at the core of Collaborative Practice.  It is also this focus which makes it possible for those involved to work productively together even if they occasionally lapse into bad feelings or negative discourse.  We work together to made decisions that will work for you, your spouse, and any children.  Decisions that will work, going forward.  Not ones that just ‘feel good’ now.

     I believe that most people genuinely desire the kind of end to their marriage that Collaborative Practice actively supports.  One that ‘Transforms Divorce from an Ending into a Beginning.”  I’d be honored by the opportunity to support you in achieving that goal.

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5 thoughts on “Collaborative Practice and Dr. Martin Luther King”

  1. Thank you cM. Very interesting, very challenging, very relevant to things in my practice group right now; you’ve given me alot to chew on, and I appreciate it. Since the goals following the thinking of M.L. King are so ambitious, I feel the need to introduce the idea of “good enough collaborative practice” — in which we can be trying to approach these goals, never completely succeeding, and still bringing a lot of good in the striving…

    1. Thank you, Aiton.
      I completely agree with you that we, both professionals and those we serve, don’t help ourselves if we our overly critical of ourselves [or each other] when we ‘miss the mark’. We serve best when we aspire to do our best, to reach for the highest aspiration, AND accept that our best will vary from day to day. One of the notions from The Four Agreements.

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