We've all heard the name Martin Luther King, Jr. and most of us know some details about the man, his life and his work.
To summarize: He was born on January 15, 1929, at the beginning of the Great Depression. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and was admitted to Morehouse College in 1944. If you do the math, you'll see that he was only 15 years-old. From Morehouse to Crozer Theological Seminary, he was ordained as a Baptist minister on February 25, 1948. After that, he continued his education with graduate studies at Boston University. Things really got interesting for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he joined the bus boycott in 1955 after Rosa Parks was arrested. Then, on December 5, he became the official spokesman for the boycott. At the March on Washington in the summer of 1963, nearly 250,000 people heard his `I Have a Dream Speech'. Did you know that he was the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize? And this great man was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Have you heard his message? The heart of his message is all about nonviolent communication and acceptance of others. How do you celebrate peace and nonviolence on a daily basis? Do you actively think about it and educate the children you know as to how to go about creating peace? In our competitive society, it is important to teach nonviolent communication and conflict resolution skills. And the best way to teach those skills is to model them. But what if you're not very good at practicing nonviolent communication? If you weren't taught how, it can be a difficult thing to do.
Here is the secret: Nonviolent communication is about recognizing the feelings and understanding the needs of the people in your life.
If you know the secret, you can communicate peacefully with just about anybody. When someone is upset, angry, scared, sad, etc. let them know they've been heard by repeating back how they're feeling. For example, "I can see that you're feeling sad. Why is that?" or "I understand that you're angry. What can I do to help?" By recognizing the other person's feelings and following up with an offer to better understand their needs, you can diffuse many stressful conversations.
If you'd like to practice nonviolent communication, you may be interested in trying The No Fault Zone, a game that I use in my classroom with my students.
Whatever you do and wherever you are, I encourage you to practice peace on a daily basis. It's the best way to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.
S. L. Wallace is an upper elementary Montessori teacher and an author. Visit her official author website to learn more.