The Freedom to Disobey

by Miki Kashtan

Dave Belden (BayNVC’s editor) writing:

Miki has just posted a fascinating article that she has been working on for some years on It’s called The Freedom to Disobey. Academics and others post new pieces there (like this one of Miki’s) or ones that have been published elsewhere so they can get a wider readership. The article remains open for comments for a month. You can join the site to read and comment if you are not already on it. Please let others know it is there if they are interested in what makes genocide possible, and how to best prevent it. Here’s the abstract from the article:

In this paper Miki Kashtan, internationally known teacher and practitioner of Nonviolent Communication and an Israeli living in the US, starts by wondering, “why I continue to feel uncomfortable whenever I am in Germany.” She answers, “It’s not because the Holocaust happened; it’s because I don’t get a sense that it’s really been digested, integrated, mourned, and learned from. There’s a distance I experience from it, either generational or moral. I long for engagement instead.” Kashtan engages with a German woman who shares her anguish, and proceeds to investigate the effects of teaching children obedience, and of privileging rationality and rational morality in adult life, concluding that they are both dangerous when they undermine “empathy as a moral force of resistance.” After discussing other cases of genocide and cruelty, she concludes, in part: “This is our task as I see it: To forego training our children to be obedient. To integrate reason with emotion through embracing empathy as the foundation of a critical approach to morality. To stand up to power with courage and love.”

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