In our last WOTV radio show, we employed a technique mentioned by Robbie Kaye, in her blog on this month's topic, Healing: Woman to Woman, that she called “passing the talking feather”. Now, I understand this is not a new technique, however, it was new to the radio show format and I am here to tell you, while taking a few tumbles, all-in-all we did pretty well.
Passing the Talking Stick, as the technique is typically called, originates as a method used by native Americans, to let everyone speak their mind during a council meeting or tribal meeting. According to the indigenous American's tradition, the stick was imbued with spiritual qualities, that called up the spirit of their ancestors to guide them in making good decisions. The stick ensured that all members, who wished to speak, had their ideas heard. All members of the circle were valued equally.
Dr. Locust, at the American Research and Training Center in Tucson, Arizona, describes the talking stick, according to native American tradition: "The talking stick has been used for centuries by many Indian tribes as a means of just and impartial hearing. The talking stick was commonly used in council circles to decide who had the right to speak. When matters of great concern would come before the council, the leading elder would hold the talking stick, and begin the discussion. When he would finish what he had to say, he would hold out the talking stick, and whoever would speak after him would take it. In this manner, the stick would be passed from one individual to another until all who wanted to speak had done so. The stick was then passed back to the elder for safe keeping." (Locust, 1998)
There are rules about using the talking stick, which Locust states: "Whoever holds the talking stick has within his hands the power of words. Only he can speak while he holds the stick, and the other council members must remain silent. The eagle feather tied to the stick gives him the courage and wisdom to speak truthfully and wisely. The rabbit fur on the end of the stick, reminds him that his words must come from his heart. " (Locust, 1998)
Speaking the truth is powerful. The history of AA (Alcoholic Anonymous) and other step programs and the practice of psychotherapy are all based on this awareness: that speaking the truth is healing. But it is healing for the group as a whole because as each individual listens, in silence and reverence, a whole world of understanding opens up.
Use of the talking stick helps us to listen as well as speak. It is a more democratic approach to a talk show atmosphere (and the first of its kind to my knowledge), as everyone is equal, no one has more say than the others, no one has more power than the others. If we are open to see things from another point-of-view, we can grow. As a world, people from all nations--the developed western countries and the developing countries--need to listen to each other with an open heart, to arrive at a kind of mutual understanding that we so desperately need to solve today's global problems.
What do you think about our use of the talking stick in our last radio show? Do you think it is a format we should continue in future shows?
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