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Internationality as a way of life

One of the key distinctions that we talk about in Nonviolent Communication is the difference between dependence, independence and interdependence. Dependence is when we meet our needs for safety and being valued at the cost of choice and freedom. Independence is when we meet our needs for choice and freedom at the expense of safety and being valued. Interdependence is when we meet our needs for safety and being valued in ways that also give us choice and freedom. We enjoy our autonomy while acknowledging and valuing connection and mutual responsibility.

I’d like to explore this distinction in relation to internationality. My memories of the London Olympics in 2012 are of national celebration. We celebrated our ethnic diversity (remember Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis?) and welcomed the world. That’s the kind of national vision of interdependence that I want to remember. Brexit presents us in a different light: as a nation that wants to go it alone, independent at the cost of connection.

I believe in internationality as a way of life. I don’t just believe in it, I live it. Here’s an inventory. My blood is half-English, half-Irish on my mother’s side. Perhaps this explains why I am fused with Van Morrison on some basic gene level. My partner Gesine is from Hamburg. Though she’s lived with me in the UK for four years now, most of her exclamations are still German. “Ach, sooo!”

My spiritual path originates in India. My name is Sanskrit, a language which seems to have originated in Syria. The previous bearer of the name was a medieval Tibetan yogi whose special power was subduing demons! The Triratna Buddhist Order that I’m a member of has centres around the world. I’m on the International Council. Hearing about other people’s lives gives me a sense of companionship all around the world. My friends are Australian, New Zealander, Irish, Scottish, Indian, Nepalese, German, French, Spanish, American, Canadian, Sri Lankan, Afghan, Thai.

From when I wake up in the morning, wherever I am in the world, my routine has an international flavour. My chi kung practice comes from China. The music I listen to while I’m doing it comes from Senegal (the incandescent Baaba Maal). The djembe drum that I play comes from the Ivory Coast. My meditation practice has its roots in India and Tibet. Though we try to eat locally grown food, the ingredient labels read like a roll call at the United Nations. 

The air I breathe comes from… all over. Bristol today, Barcelona tomorrow, Barbados next week. It’s for this reason that the emerging climate crisis needs international cooperation, rather than nationalist protectionism.

I’m local to Bristol, in the United Kingdom, an international and distinctly European city, with Spanish speakers, Sudanese, West Indians, Polish, Italian, Chinese and French elements. For the last 35 years I’ve been visiting India, and also feel at home here. Yes, here. I’m not in India at the moment, however, India for me is definitely here. I’ve been in India enough to feel like it’s a here. I am a member of a team of assessors supporting people who want to become NVC trainers in South Asia. 

I think you get the idea. I’d like to suggest that we need internationality, because internationality acknowledges interdependence.

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