Dangerous Compassions

dismantle hierarchy

frozen flower

I was thinking more about why I hate nonviolent communication (NVC).  So many people want a system for being right.  So many people want to learn the rules, believe they’re following the rules, and rest in their technical attempt.

“Ok–I did the thing.  I’m done now.  I’ve done well enough,” they say and retreat to whatever avoidant comfort.

It hit me very suddenly: NVC is just one more set of hierarchy to replace the usual set.  Yuck!  No wonder I hate it.  I don’t need new rules based on the ideas of a white guy years ago.  I need to dismantle hierarchy.  We can do better.

I hear about workshops, folks howling like jackals to shame / help their friends.  What!?  If giraffes are good and jackals are bad–fuck that.  I need to dismantle hierarchy of animal symbols.  No way will I become a quiet giraffe.  Sure, I would love to have a prehensile tongue.  Otherwise–I’m not trying to become more quiet and easy.  I’m all the animals, all the time.

I lived 40 years of my life way too quiet and easy!  It’s time for me to howl, for sure.


I love truth.  I’ll be clear and consider who I’m talking to.  Yes, needs matter a lot and affect our words and behavior.  We are all trying to get our needs met.

I don’t need a white guy to tell me that.  The hero worship aspect bothers me a lot.  Especially in context of a culture where old men are always the authorities.  Who has authority?  Not me.

How do hierarchies work for you?  They never work well for me.  I’m usually on the bottom or middle, mostly ignored, and considered of little worth.

Then in a place where I was top dog, I hated it.  I was begging others to share responsibility and power.  I love freedom, but many people do not.  They want to hand over freedom and agency to do less work–they think I got it covered.  I can’t relate to that.


The other big problem I notice recently is that NVC can’t make anyone care.  Using the right words can’t replace tenderness, desire, and actually giving a fuck.

What’s behind the words?  Is love there?  Or are you saying the right thing to manipulate people to stay near you, but not too near, and keep putting up with your bullshit?

If the words are the wrapping paper and the bow, is there an actual gift inside?  Is feeling and kindness there?  Are you caring for the actual person in front of you?

Why do the words matter so much anyway?  Like taking a break from gender, sometimes I can enjoy taking a break from words.  Let’s just hold hands.  Let’s just dance.

Are words really the point?  I prefer what’s under the words.


I was doing yoga over zoom with a new teacher, someone local.  He was a thin older white man who kept talking about the poses in terms of value.

“If you can touch your ankles, you’re lucky,” he said one time.  Another time he said, “If you’re really good, you can hold your hands like this.  I can’t do that.”  And then, “I can do it on this side.”

I wasn’t there to learn about good vs bad ways of doing yoga.  I’m not  a thin, abled person.  And I don’t think thin, abled ways are actually better.  As long as I’m breathing, inhabiting my body, enjoying the movement, and trying, I’m doing yoga great.

check outs

At the very end, it was time to wrap it up.  We were allowed to check out.

“It was my first time coming to this,” I said.  “I couldn’t do the poses like you.  But I’m experienced with ample yoga, and I know how to modify them to work for me.  I enjoyed all of that–thank you.”

“Yoga doesn’t need to be strenuous,” the teacher said in his deep voice of fake wisdom.  “It’s good to relax.  You can get benefit doing it less strenuously.”

It bothered me because it sounded like he was doing a hierarchy there too.  I felt he was patting me on the head, saying it was ok to do it my silly way.  But I didn’t need his permission.

He made a class for thin, abled people like him.  I am brilliant to be able to make that work for me, by modifying literally every pose.


Yes, my need to dismantle hierarchy is part of why I’m an anarchist.  I need multiplicity, options, room at the table.  People with money are not better.  People with _________ are not better.  I don’t want to hate anymore.  We all deserve respect.

There are many styles of anarchist.  I like love anarchy, with lots of trust and touch.  I also like garden anarchy.  Some frost froze the borage.


Peaceful, creative, and happy DIY anarchy.  I don’t need to read an idea in a book for something to be real.  Disability justice anarchy–fat liberation anarchy.

Would you like to dismantle hierarchy with me?  Patriarchy is a hierarchy, right?  Racism too.  Hmm, I see a pattern here.  I definitely like avocados more than I like celery.  But otherwise…

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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