Speak Compassion

[powered by WordPress.]

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Adjusting back to the “West”

by @ 9:38 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

Men cleaning their feet for evening prayer at the Jama Masjid Mosque in Delhi India.

I have to admit, I have struggled a little with coming back.  I came back to multiple projects at work, a death of a close friend, and the news media filled with riots, rapes, murders, corruption, and all sorts of other bad news I had not seen since I hadn’t been reading the news while I was away.

One thing I have been thinking over the past week or so since coming back to the US from India is this is a religious country and not a spiritual country. Lots of obsession with dogma and adherence to a faith and yet little spirituality of actually putting the dogma into practice. Here people are very critical of people adhering to dogma. Any dogma not like yours is heresy or militant evil. Everyone who believes, does, or lives differently is the enemy. We may be polite about it and we still think those who are different than us are going to hell. We claim to be a Christian Nation, yet look at what is happening in Ferguson. Look at what is happening on Wall Street. I hear the dogma and I don’t see the principles of Christianity lived out in the Christian nation. The same could be said about other regions here in the US. Lots of rules, and lists of those “destroying” the nations, and few people living out the principles of faith.

I definitely saw something different in India. There were dozens of religions yet people seem to live on the principles of those religions rather than the dogma of those faiths. People didn’t seem to respect particular religions. They seem to respect how well you lived the faith you professed to believe. What was respected is that you displayed the traits of a Hindu, a muslim, a Buddhist, or a Christian. Karma is king. Can you walk your talk? I don’t see that here in this “christian nation” where the recent news is filled with injustice, killing, and moral judgement of others. People seem more interested in posted a monument to the ten commandments but not interested in living those commandments. The same politicians who want to build monuments to the ten commandments also support the second amendment despite the 6th commandment that clearly says, with no holds barred, thou shall not kill.

On the one of days we spent shopping at the Kahn Market in New Delhi, we happen to get caught in the downpour of monsoon.  A shop keeper saw that the paper shopping bag I was carrying was falling apart due to the wet weather.  Even though I did not purchase anything from him at his store, he still sent his worker to give me a plastic bag to protect my purchases.  I was moved enough by this action, that weeks later I am still writing about it.  What I remember most is his smile.  He found such great joy at contributing to my well being in that moment.  I found great joy is his actions.


Carvings in the Jain Temple in Delhi, India.

India may be dirty, polluted, and smell funny and it also has a sense of spirituality everywhere I went. There were shrines, reminders, and smiling faces who responded to greetings from others (or at least from those who are western). The west has much to learn from the east about religious dogma versus spirituality. What does it mean to walk the talk?










-Joe Brummer










Friday, July 11, 2014

A School 4 Kayimet

by @ 2:41 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication, Poverty

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Punishment & Peace

by @ 6:34 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

I keep trying to explain to people my theory that punishment is the root of all violence. I think this article from the Huffington Post shows the true effects of punishment and violence. It shows the thinking behind violence and punishment and how they are linked. Violence is the way we make other people “get what we think they deserve.” Punishment and Peace are incompatible ideas. They cannot co-exist. To end violence on the planet we need to end the idea of making people “pay” for things they have done. I agree with the words of Marshall Rosenberg who is quoted as saying, “All violence stems from people being tricked into believing other people are the source of their pain and therefore deserve to be punished.” The true solution is to teach people how to restore the harm and the community rather than punishing. When children do something “wrong” we do best to teach them how to make it “right” not punishing them.

This is also the reason I believe we need to promote Restorative Justice as the alternative to punitive measures.  It is what I believe we need to do if we want more peace.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Journey Into Nonviolence Continues

by @ 6:45 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

I have been writing this blog about my journey into Nonviolence since late 2006.  It has taken me though the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence’s Training of Trainers program in Kingian Nonviolence.  It has led me to study, practice and even sharing of Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication.  It influenced me being trained in mediation and even changing my career from mental health training and community organizing  to working the field of mediation, peace building, and conflict resolution.  Now, it is leading me to continue my quest to live a nonviolent life by taking me to India to take part in the Teaching for Peace Program.



I am excited to be going to India for a number of reasons and one is the chance to visit sites that were linked to the life of Gandhi.  As one of the larger influences in my own understanding of Nonviolence, it will be a life changing to see and be in the spaces relevant to his life.   I am also excited to see the Buddhist Ajanta caves and the Taj.

As part of this program, participants are asked to reframe from meat, diary, alcohol, drugs, etc…while they are in the three week program.  To prep for this, I started eating a vegetarian diet on June 1st and with a few exceptions like a nice dinner with friends this week, I am staying away from alcohol.  Really thinking this trip will be taking me slightly out of my comfort zone and that I wanted to prepare for that ahead of time rather than be thrown into eating different at the same time.

I am also hoping to make this trip traveling as light as possible.  I want minimal stuff to come with me and I don’t mind wearing the same clothes over and over if it means I can trace light.   Feel free to comment and give me tips on making that happen!

The program is focused on nonviolence in educational settings and even takes us into a few schools in India to see how they do it.  I am excited to be getting this inside look at Ahimsa in schools.   We will be looking at how Ahimsa (nonviolence) carries into schools and educational settings.  How do you do classroom management using the principles and fundamental basics of Ahimsa?  I am guessing I will learn as I am there.

I must admit preparing for this trip has been stressful.  It is all about rethinking your comfort zone.  What makes you deal well with the surroundings you are in?   The food?  The accommodations?  The water?  Bathrooms?  Sometimes the stuff you think nothing about is the stuff that makes a trip to India life changing.  What changes your life?

Keep checking back, as I plan to post some updates!   I also plan to updates and build up the site “Speakcompassion.com” which isn’t up to speed yet and I hope it to be a place where I can blog this trip and let others with me blog too!   Keep watching….  I also plan to invite the key players in bringing Nonviolent Communication, Compassion, Restorative Justice, and education reform to this blog.  Check out speakcompassion.com for posts about my trip to india, my thoughts on India and Nonviolence, and to hear from others who share my vision about bringing nonviolence education to CT and beyond.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

A School for Kayimet: Marshall Rosenberg Classroom for Peace

by @ 1:39 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication


The land where the school is to be built

Trinity Episcopal Church on the Green in Branford, CT has begun a project to build a school in the town of Kayimet in Northern Haiti.  As a part of that mission, they are allowing those who donate $7000.00 to have the rights to name a classroom. I, Joe Brummer, author of this site,  want to name a classroom the:

Marshall Rosenberg Classroom for Peace.”

I am asking my friends, family, and those who are supporters of Nonviolent Communication and Marshall’s incredible work throughout the world to donate to this cause.  Why?  So every kid that passes through that room asks the question, Who is Marshall Rosenberg and what’s he got to do with peace?

About the project:

Trinity Church was introduced to the people of Kayimet through the work of Global Health Ministry. Rev. Sharon Gracen and Janet Constantino, a nurse practitioner who attends Trinity, have taken part in this non-profit organization’s yearly trip to Haiti. The visits to the villages are to set up health clinics that are organized by Sister Jackie Picard, from the convent The Religious of Jesus and Mary, in Gros Morne, the nearest town to Kayimet. She is one of our local partners for this project.

The plan is to build a two story building, built to the best earthquake and hurricane resistant standards, that will house seven classrooms, a cafeteria, clinic, office, restrooms and showers. It will also include a food pantry, and a storage facility which will qualify Kayimet for distributions from the World Food Program.

Who is Marshall Rosenberg and why name a room after him?

Marshall Rosenberg is the founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication

Marshall Rosenberg has been a huge influence in my life and my work.  While I agree, it is odd to name a room after someone who is still alive and well, my hope is that those who have also been influenced and touched by Marshall’s work in Nonviolent Communication would agree this is a worthy cause and would enjoy seeing Marshall’s name attached to something so worthy! It is also my hope that this school could one day be a giraffe school.  While that is further down the line, this is a nice start.

How Can you Help:

Trinity Episcopal Church is serving as the project facilitator, which also allows all contributions to receive tax deduction eligibility (please consult your tax advisor). Donations can be made by check or online with PayPal*. Send your check to Trinity Church, 1109 Main Street, Branford, CT, 06405.  Please note Kayimet School-ROSENBERG in the memo line of your check so your donation will go to the Kayimet School Project and the naming of the classroom for Marshall Rosenberg. The funds will be held in a discrete account and wired as appropriate to our onsite partner in Haiti, Sister Jackie at The Religious of Jesus and Mary convent in Gros Morne.  ALL proceeds from donations, less wire transfer fees, will go directly toward the Kayimet School project.

DONATE ON THE WEBSITE: A School for Kayimet

*To donate using Paypal, there will be a box on the second page of your PayPal process that allows you to make notes, please type Kayimet School-ROSENBERG in the note field.

If you have questions, or would like to talk to someone who has actually been to Kayimet, contact Rev. Sharon Gracen atrector47@trinitybranford.org.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jesus and Nonviolence

by @ 1:48 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

While many of you know I am an unabashed atheist, I also attend a church every week. I enjoy the sense of community and I also appreciate the message of peace and nonviolence demanded in almost every religion ever known. Today, the national Episcopal church reading for this Sunday was Matthew 5:38-48.

Eye for Eye
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[b] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

These passages happen to be my favorite parts of the Christian bible. It comes from the Sermon on the Mount (I prefer Luke’s version of it) where Christ pretty much laid out his plan that nonviolence is the way we are to respond to violence and injustice. The line about turning the other cheek is so often misunderstood as a passive allowance of evil and injustice. It is not. It is the turning of one’s head to force an opponent to hit you as an equal.  In the time of Christ, it the left hand was considered evil.  If you were to hit someone such as a slave being hit by a Roman Soldier, you would do it with a closed fist.  If you were to hit an equal, you would hit them with an open hand.  When someone tries to hit you on the right cheek and you turn your head an offer your left, you are forcing them to hit you as an equal.  Since it is physically impossible to hit someone backhand on the left side with your right hand.  This is one of the ways the bible reminds us we are all equal, we are all connected.
Whether or not you believe in god or the bible, that is one powerful message.  The message was a huge inspiration to the entire foundation of Gandhi’s Satyagraha and ahimsa. Along with his own Hindu faith, Gandhi deeply believed in the message that came from the Sermon the Mount of Olives.  It has long been rumored that when asked by Lord Irwin what would solve the problems between Britain and India, Gandhi picked up a bible and turned to the passages in Gospel of Matthew and said,
“When your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in this Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries but those of the whole world.” (source)
We also all know Gandhi referenced the famous quote “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”  We must find ways to work together to find solutions and collaborations to our problems rather than find ways to punish each other’s actions.  I truly believe punishment is a root of all violence on this planet.  End punishment and you will end all violence.  An eye for an eye is nothing more than you hurt me, then you deserve for me to hurt you back.  It is retribution and punitive thinking like this that fuels so much of the violence on our streets, in our homes, and in our counties.

Lately,  I see many “pro-family” leaders who are doing their best to stand their own religious morals using terms to describe gays like “gaystopo” and “Gay-k-k” or the even more popular, “homofascist” which I am not even sure makes any sense.  These terms are really ways of creating enemy images of others.  They are ways to portray an adversary and an enemy.  Funny, most of those using these terms claim to do it in the name of god and yet, its is pretty clear in the passages we are talking about, Jesus Christ commanded otherwise.

Today’s reading was a great reminder to us that every religion in some way or another reminds us that peace is not the end result, its the way to get there. Read on for the real meaning behind turn the other cheek. http://streetpastor.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/turn-the-other-cheek/

And here is a Nonviolence in Action story (hat tip to Sal) that directly puts line 40 in the above passage into perspective and real life:  http://www.tickld.com/x/this-man-got-mugged-what-he-did-next-was-genius

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Gay Rights Movement

by @ 1:52 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants, Nonviolence

Martin-Luther-King-Jr-9365086-2-402Recently, Matt Barber wrote a piece for World Net Daily about what he believes Martin Luther King, Jr.’s position would be on gay rights. While it is impossible to really know where King would have really stood, everyone wants to make these assumptions because it simply helps their cause.  Of course, Matt lines King’s beliefs with his own based on things King said about gays back in 1958.  The trouble with this logic is that if we really want to make a prediction about where King would have stood on Gay rights in 2014, his 1958 words won’t tell us nearly as much as the Six Principles and Six Steps of Nonviolence already tell us.

King lived his life based on the principles of nonviolence.  He took those from both his Christian beliefs which basically mandate nonviolence in both thought and action for Christians, and from a well studied and meditated review of philosophy, theology, and personal experience.  His Pilgrimage to Nonviolence was an amazing testament to that study.  His message and his work evolved beyond just civil rights for blacks in his later years and moved to a campaign against poverty and his opposition to the war in Vietnam.   It is my belief based on my study not just on King, but on those principles he based his life on that he would have evolved to see rights for gays and lesbians not just as a civil rights issue but a human rights issue.

For starters, I believe King would have followed the steps of Nonviolence.  He would have started by gathering the most current information on all sides.  That is the first step he put out there on Nonviolence.   He would have wanted all the info on the science and current theological arguments both for and against rights for gays and lesbians.  I think even King, who was well documented for being a scholar, would have been overwhelmed by the sheer amounts of information some of which is accurate some not so much.

Next, I would imagine King would have gone to Step 2 in his Steps of Nonviolence.  He would have educated everyone involved with what he had gathered and learned.  In almost mediator fashion, King would have laid out all arguments on both sides and tried to make some sense of them.  He would have consulted and met with all those involved on all sides of the issues.

For these reasons, I believe King would have come to the same conclusions both socially and theologically that gays rights are more than just civil rights, they human rights.

We also have the evidence of his words in the Pilgrimage to Nonviolence.  King clearly showed his own evolution of thought on liberalism, socialism, communism, and social evils.  It shows a man who searched for the truth, the answers.  I am completely positive that King would have continued the search for truth.  He would have thought homosexuality as evil in 1958.  He would have also evolved his thinking by 2014.

I also believe King would have been extremely opposed to the language and violence of words used to discuss the issues.  Words like homofascism, heterofascism, GayKK, and even the word bigot would have brought about strong objection from King as they are personally attacks on people and not actions.  King’s principles would not have approved of calling anti-gay folks like Peter LaBarbera names like “porno peter” which I also personally find unhelpful.

King’s principles were to build the Beloved Community and in that, he hoped we would all find ways to live with our differences.  It is for those convictions, I think he would have supported and affirmed gay couples, same-sex marriages, and human rights for gays and lesbians.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Choose Nonviolence, Choose Peace!

by @ 12:43 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants


Can you be a Christian Atheist?

by @ 12:08 pm. Filed under Atheism, Joe's Rants

I keep hearing this term tossed around by Christians referring to other Christians as not “True Christians.” I have been pondering exactly what does it mean to be a true Christian or even a Christian at all.  I also suppose we could be talking about Islam and Hinduism as well.  What constitutes one being “X” religion.

On one hand, you would assume that each person calling themselves a Christian, Muslim, or whatever they are would mean they are a believer.  The question becomes a believer in what?  The message,  the person, the deity?  One might also assume that calling someone a Christian means they are a follower of Christ.  The next question would be a follower of the message, the book, or the deity?  Simply put, does one have to believe in the divinity of a god to be considered a Christian, a Muslim, or a Hindu? If you believe in the message of Christ, does that make you a Christian?

Beyond all that, what are they so called “true” Christians and what does that make all the other people who call themselves Christians?  What is the criteria for being a “true” Christian?  Who decides the true Christians from the other ones?

The bible as a book of guidance on how to live your life has some great messages.  It also has some messages I believe to be harmful and hurtful to us as a human race. I think the god of the bible is petty and vengeful. You’d think that such a powerful being would have mastered anger, vengeance, and other petty human traits.   I still think like many books, there are some great lessons about who we are and who we could be as people.  I believe the same is true of most religious texts.  Lots of amazing lessons to help us be better at being human, being compassionate, being good to each other. Each has some amazing version of the “golden rule” about how to be.   If I follow those messages, do I get to call myself a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu?  And who gets to decide if I am a “true” Christian, Muslim, or Hindu?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Responding to Matt Barber’s WND Article

by @ 2:16 pm. Filed under Atheism, Joe's Rants, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

Last night, religious pundit, Matt Barber published a piece for the e-commentary site, World News Daily. The site is more of a opinion site than a news site. I wouldn’t have even paid this article a second glance except Matt tweeted 31 tweets in a row linking to the article, which actually made me laugh out loud.  I wonder if Matt was afraid we’d mis it if he didn’t post it repeatedly.  Oddly, his tactic worked because I actually read his article.

Matt’s article was in opposition to atheists, nonbelievers, and Planned Parenthood.  He wrote the article in response to a previous article by a woman named, Valerie Tarico, where she writes her opinions about the signs she sees leading her to believe that “fundamentalism is going down”.  Matt’s article makes some interesting claims that have nudged at my intellectual neurons just enough to make me feel like writing, something I haven’t been up on doing for the last several years.

First, before I jump to thoughts on the article, I want to put out there that one of the reasons I stopped writing about gay rights, religion, and nonviolence was the challenges that come from living compassionately and nonviolently while still respectfully being able to challenge ideas.  I sometimes find this blog itself has been a journey of that.  If you go back to my original posts from 2006 and compare them to the stuff I wrote in the past few years, the is a huge differences to be seen in my response to things I believe are harmful and things and people with which I disagree.  It has been part of my reason for not writing, I need to keep growing in my own understanding of nonviolence, respect, and compassion first.  Now, onto Matt’s article.

I think what has struck me most about this article is the strong tone of black and white thinking that seems to permeate our current culture.  We have been living in this “all this-all that” mindset for just far longer than I like.  I amazed how many people ask if I am for or against guns or even gun control as if those are simple yes or no answers.  The same is true of socialism, communism, marxism, abortion, god, nationalism.  You are either for these things or against them rather than a spectrum of ideas.  We Americans seem to feel more at ease if we take complex and colorful concepts and simplify them into black and white issues.  My experience of the world is that life just isn’t that simple and neither are these issues.

Matt’s article is heavy in the language of sides.  You are either a north American progressive or a god fearing conservative.  You are on god’s side or satan’s side.  You are either for god or against god and by that, he is only referring to his god and none others.  Again, I don’t think the world is this simplistic.

Matt writes:

For those of us so very blessed to have raised our personal white flag in mankind’s inherently fruitless struggle against the Creator, there can be no joy in watching God-deniers continue to labor under the grandest of all deceptions. Regardless of how nasty they may be as individuals, there can be only sadness, genuine pity and prayer.

First off, I want to say I totally get what Matt is saying. I can empathize with this pain because I share the exact same sentiments just from the other view.  It is painful for me to watch religious folks to labor under what I would call the greatest of deceptions.  Over the years, I have found no joy or pleasure in watching people engage in things in which I don’t believe. This includes god, psuedo-science, homeopathic medicines, chiropractors, and acupuncture.  Where Matt and I differ is that I am working in my life to find compassion for those who believe different stuff than me.  I really want to have empathy and understanding as opposed to pity.

I also am not really sure what a “god-denier” actually is.  How do you deny what you do not believe exists.  I personally don’t believe in a god.  There is no more denial in that than there is the fact I also don’t believe in ghosts?  Does that make me a ghost-denier? I don’t believe in homeopathic medicine.  Does that make me a homeopathic medicine denier? Makes me wonder why Matt would make such a choice for a label?  Does he not really understand how belief works?  Does he simply think everyone who doesn’t believe really does believe and they are faking it with denial?  Not sure I could make any logical sense of that and then again, is there any logical sense to be made of it?

Belief is an interesting concept Matt seems to only grasp in terms of choice.  Reality is we don’t actually choose what we believe.  We take in the evidence (and I use that term lightly) and come to our own conclusions.  Even if we wanted to believe in something, we cannot make ourselves believe.  I certainly can’t wake up tomorrow and say, “Yup, I am deciding I believe in unicorns” and then actually do it. Doesn’t work out that way.  I could say I believe in god and the fact is, I don’t.  It would be  lie if I said I did. I also know I can’t make myself believe in god anymore than I could make myself believe in ghosts, psychics, or the Loch Ness Monster.

The flip side of this, and a fact that has built much compassion in me for those who do believe, Matt won’t be waking up tomorrow and making a choice not to believe.  He has read and heard the evidence and it has led him to believe there is a god and that it is the god of the Christian bible.  He couldn’t stop believing that by choice anymore than I could start believing it by choice.

I find his comment about nonbelievers being “nasty” as just his anger that people like me don’t see what he sees the way he sees it.  Guess what, Matt?  I don’t see what you see and it doesn’t make me nasty, sad, unhappy, or anything of the sort.  I will say that I miss my belief in god and Jesus.  I was raised a Catholic.  I went to mass most weeks.  I was an alter-boy in 6th and 7th grades.  I also went to Catholic Schools for all of my schooling.  I studied scripture in high school and for a short time in my early teens, I sincerely wanted to join the priesthood.  I had very strong beliefs then that god existed and that he and I were actually talking to each other when I prayed.  Something I did often.

Over time, those beliefs changed and faded.  There was no one reason for this but many.  I do have to admit, the kicker for me was the realization that religion was more geographical then factual.  Most people are the religion they are because they were born into it by location.  If I had been born in the East, I might be a Hindu or a Muslim.  Since I was born in the USA, I happen to be Christian.

I do miss my “beliefs” in god.  I sometimes think it would be lovely to wake up tomorrow and believe there is a god.  On the other hand, I am also happy I that won’t happen.  There was a lot of comfort to be found in it.  There was also a great sense of community going to church each Sunday and being involved with church activities.  That is why, while not a Catholic church, I do still attend a church.  The pastor of the church knows I am an atheist.  She also knows I joined this church because of the social justice work they are doing around hunger, Haiti, and the homeless.  I get a little freaked out by the whole communion thing because I see it differently than I when I was a kid.  It now seems a bit odd that people are eating flesh and blood regardless of whom they think it belongs.  Either way, I still enjoy going, especially for the sermon  which generally meets with my values.

Matt also writes a few paragraphs about there being no freedom unless you are a believer.  Of course, I would ask Matt, what is your definition of freedom?  I don’t think I felt anymore freedom when I was a believer than I feel now except now that I don’t believe, I no longer struggle with odd and outdated rules about morality that makes little sense to me.  In fact, I might say I feel an increased sense of freedom in my life because I am no longer held down by dogma.

Matt writes:

When God-deniers like Ms. Tarico dig in their heels, a pitiable paradox occurs. While they think they’ve achieved intellectual enlightenment and freedom, they have, instead, been played for the fool. They have become slaves to the flesh, and playthings to the enemy.

I have never met anyone who thinks they have more intellectual enlightenment and freedom through the strategy of “god-denial” whatever that means.  I don’t think I ever met anyone who thinks intellectual enlightenment is an achievement that is achievable.  I would go as far as to say, what does that even mean.  Next, I just laughed at the slaves to the flesh comment.  I can assure you Matt think about and writes about sexuality way more than any nonbeliever I know.

Ultimately, I see Matt’s entire article as a way of drumming up fear and hate for people who don’t believe in Matt’s god.  My question would be, what purpose does that serve?  Does Matt think he will insult them into believing?  What is Matt’s end game? To turn other believers against those who don’t believe?  Is it to rally the troops of believer into having some reaction?  What is Matt’s intention behind his article?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Queer Talk, Caring Talk: Nonviolent Communication for the LGBTQ Community

by @ 12:15 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants


 Queer Talk, Caring Talk: Nonviolent Communication for the LGBTQ Community (April 25th-28th)

Learn powerful skills of compassionate communication to transform your relationships with yourself and others, in a warm, diverse, and welcoming LGBTQ environment.

Say what you mean, without blaming. Tell others your feelings and needs, simply and clearly. Find your voice. Listen without judging. In this powerful and transformative retreat for those who identify in the LGBTQ spectrum (lesbian, gay, bi, trans, or queer/questioning) we’ll develop skills of Nonviolent Communication, an acclaimed practice pioneered by Marshall Rosenberg. We’ll explore our differences as well as our connections in queer community, share our experiences from varied backgrounds, and discover ways to live fully in the world at a time when gay culture is becoming more visible and accepted in the mainstream, yet heterosexism and homophobia still persist. Join us as we play, laugh, sing, learn, and grow together.

Certified NVC Trainers Dian Killian, Jerry Koch-Gonzalez, and Kristin Masters will be assisted by Phoenix Soleil and Joe Brummer, making the facilitation team diverse across gender, class, race, and ethnicity.
You’ll discover tools of Nonviolent Communication to:This program is designed both for those new to Nonviolent Communication and those with some or extensive prior NVC training; different tracks will be offered for different levels of experience.

* identify your deepest vision and values, and to hear others
* deepen trust, authenticity, and intimacy in your relationships
* handle your internal critics
* relate to and fully accept your sexuality
* deepen connections with others, gay and straight
* move hearts as well as minds across political divides, especially on issues of queer equality
* deepen empathy for yourself and compassion for others in your life

Dian Killian, PhD, is founder and Director of the Center for Collaborative Communication in New York City, a Certified Trainer with the international Center for Nonviolent Communication, and co-author of Connecting across Differences and Urban Empathy: True Life Adventures of Compassion on the Streets of New York. Dian has served as union organizer, in the peace movement, and with Pride at Work. In 2003, she was recognized by NY City Council with a hero award for her efforts around LGBTQ inclusion in New York City. In 2011 she co-lead, with Marshall Rosenberg, an International Intensive Training [IIT] Nonviolent Communication training.

Jerry Koch-Gonzalez is a Certified Trainer in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and in Sociocracy/Dynamic Governance, founder of New England NVC, and an activist with a passion to share the skills and consciousness that support egalitarian relationships of all kinds. Growing up in Cuba and New York City and identifying as bisexual since college in 1973, he lives with his two children in the Pioneer Valley Cohousing Community in Amherst, MA.

Kristin Masters is a Certified CNVC trainer. She shares from the principles of compassionate communication. As a longtime diversity trainer interested in liberation and awareness of power, she speaks many dialects of street giraffe. And in her love of Joanna Macy’s Work That Reconnects, Kristin offers an empowering and invigorating approach to social change work. Kristin hails from Santa Cruz, CA, where she is grateful to live and sing in community.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Reduce Bullying by Supporting Peer Mediation

by @ 12:14 pm. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Joe's Rants, Nonviolent Communication

Community Mediation, my day job, is very excited to announce the launch of our IndieGoGo campaign, “Help Kids Making a Difference in Their Communities.” The purpose of this campaign is to raise funds so we can order hoodies for the peer mediators we’ve trained in New Haven area schools; these will help our peer mediators advertise the program, stand out from other students, and be part of something larger than themselves: reduced suspensions, incidents of violence and fighting, and creating a peaceful climate.

The campaign will be up for 55 days, and we are aiming for $8500 dollars; this will ensure that we order enough hoodies to cover the kids we have trained, as well as more for the students we will train in the future. The campaign is based off of similar initiatives in other states which have been successful.

Peer mediation is a proven way to reduce conflicts and other problems in our schools, and our peer mediators learning these skills will keep using them throughout their lives. Peer mediation has a proven success rate of anywhere from 58-93% in reducing conflicts in schools, resulting in reduced suspensions and an overall decrease in disciplinary measures needed. Most students, when asked, state that they use the skills they learn both in and out of school, with their friends, family and others.

If you are able, please follow the link below to donate, and even if you aren’t, please share it with anyone you know who is.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Does Homophobia Destroy Heterosexual Marriages and the Men in Them?

by @ 8:05 pm. Filed under Anti-Gay Bullying, Book Reviews, Joe's Rants

I am Gifts of Imperfection Covercurrently taking an online class based on the book, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, PhD.  Brown, who is a professor at the University of Texas, describes herself as a vulnerability researcher who studies authenticity, shame and courage. I was drawn to this class on Brown’s work because of her focus on empathy, connection and authenticity which are all running themes in my life because of my interest in Nonviolent Communication.

In her work, Brown defines shame as the “…intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging” and describes it as the “warm wash that comes over us that makes us feel small, flawed and never good enough.” It was hard to read that as a 41 year old gay man and not think about my childhood of being bullied, my teen years of trying to play straight and certainly my early 20s when I struggled to come to terms with my sexuality.  I am realizing from this book, this class and my own life that growing up gay is a crystallized example of being “in shame” as Dr. Brown describes it in her work.

I can remember after I was gay bashed in 1990. Just a few days after it happen I was looking in the mirror at a face I did not recognize because it was so swollen and black and blue. I was pulling my bottom lip down so I could count the stitches where my teeth caused a hole when I was kicked in the face .  I would try to use a hand mirror to look at the black and blue marks on my back.  I truly believe at that time that I deserved what had happen to me because I was gay. What happen was ultimately my fault because I was defective.  I was not worthy of love and belonging and I didn’t feel I had a place in my life where I belonged.   I know now and can name what that was.  It was shame.   It was the warm wash that came over me that I am convinced to this day is what caused me to physically heal in record time.  My doctors were amazed at how fast my black and blue marks, swelling and cuts and bruises healed.  I think I wished myself better to make the shame go away.

What was that shame really about? We live in a society where being gay is still viewed as weak, passive, the opposite of masculine.  While the last 25 years have brought great change to those views, it hasn’t changed enough to stop gays and lesbians from growing up feeling defective and unworthy of love for who they are.  The record suicide rates of youth bullied for their perceived sexual orientation is an example of just how damaging these views can be.

You can watch her Tedx Huston talk:

I am going to throw a premise out there I have been thinking about over the past few weeks about shame and homophobia.  We shame young men into being tough, into hiding their feelings, into hiding themselves and we do it with homophobia. I believe this damages heterosexual marriages and the men and women in this marriages.  Let me attempt to explain what I have been thinking.

Our picture for what a real man should be is really just “not a faggot” as the perception of the stereotype is this weak, emotional, effeminate, show tune loving guy who looks good in pink.  We raise our young men and boys by painting them a picture of what a man is supposed to be and then paint the opposite of that as a faggot. Thus making men want to avoid anyone thinking their are gay even if they are because it somehow makes them less worthy of love and belonging, (shame.)

Researcher Jackson Katz, an author, educator and film maker explored these ideas in his 1999 film “Tough Guise” where he breaks down the stereotypes we use to tell men what being a man is.  Before continuing to read the premise I am presenting, watch this short clip from the film and pay particular attention to what the young men say when asked the qualities of being a man.

One of the themes I have heard in this class from other men about living authentically is just how hard it is to be yourself in a world where you are programmed to live up to a certain framework of what a man is supposed to be.  I was thinking about this idea of the picture of what a man is “suppose to be.”  Men don’t show emotions. Men don’t show vulnerability. Men don’t show compassion.  Men dress tough, drive trucks, play football, burp, and fart.  The drink beer not wine.  They have steak and certainly they don’t eat quiche. Men also spend lots of time NOT doing anything that might lead people to think they are gay.  Some even going as far as killing other men to prove they are not gay, deemed the so called, Gay Panic defense.  They kill men who hit on them as opposed to just saying “thank you but I am straight but flattered.”

Despite the damage this is doing to gay men and boys, one has to wonder, what does all this do to heterosexual men and boys especially in light of all the new research out there in the past 10 years around mirror neurons, empathy, connection and motivation.  I have been reading a ton of books about shame, empathy and human connection and one of the things I find is that all these researchers agree, as men we are emotional, we are creative and those are not signs of being gay, but being human. In fact, many of the characteristics that get attributed to gay men are hold and hidden in straight men.

Homophobia and our refusal to accept and affirm gay men and relationships gives many bullies their power.  Just looking at the numbers of who gets bullied and what things bullies say to young men is a clue to just how powerful shame can be as a tool to make men feel small.  You want to make a man feel small, flawed and unworthy of love and belonging, call him a faggot.  Why is that so shaming, so powerful?  Because we allow it to be.  It reinforces to men that they have to appear macho not effeminate.  What would happen if we changed that stereotype?

I would like you think about what this shame and programming would do to a young, emotional and creative young boy who then grows up and marries a woman.   He has been programmed to not communicate his feelings because that is for fags.  So he is unable to express to this woman the things she really needs to hear from her partner to make things work.   He isn’t going to be told what to do by a woman because men who aren’t their own boss are again perceived as passive which is also another quality of the stereotype of gay men.  This leaves a man who faces conflict about chores and won’t be negotiating with his wife, he will want to be the boss.  God knows that last thing we teach young men is to be vulnerable, so it is unlikely he will be sharing honestly when he is in pain.

Two of the top reasons heterosexual marriages end are communication breakdowns and abuse.  I can’t help but wonder if these communication breakdowns are based in how we shame men into being “not gay” and would these change if we starting accepting gays and supporting them to be healthy, whole and authentic about their stories. If we accepted gay men, straight men would no longer care about being perceived as gay as it would no longer be a bad thing.  What if we taught men to have the courage to be who they really are rather than “not gay.”  That would mean calling a straight man sensitive wouldn’t send him into the warm wash of shame where he then wants to prove his “not gayness” to the world with destructive behaviors.

I would presume:

I really do think that homophobia hurts straight men just as much as it hurts gay men.   I believe it hurts heterosexual marriages for the same reasons.  Women with unrealistic and inaccurate views of what being a man is and men trying to live up to unrealistic and inaccurate views of the same.  Not sure I see that turning around anytime soon.  I do believe that affirming gay relationships, affirming boys desires to explore who they are will serious change so many of the negatives that comes from men trying to prove they “aren’t gay.”

When we can get society to the point where being gay is just no big deal.  It is no longer seen as negative.  We will also be removing the shame we place on men, gay or straight, when they do things out of authenticity like show emotions, cry, cook, dance, or ignore the Superbowl.

Brene Brown has started a bit of a movement of men and women committed to living authentic lives. To living”wholeheartedly” and willing to have the courage to tell and be okay with their own stories.  I truly believe that way to change some of the damage we do to men and boys is to get them to embrace who they are.  If you are a straight boy who likes ballet…good.  If you are a gay boy who likes pink, good.  It is all good, just be yourself.  Go dance barefoot in the kitchen to disney songs and it will make you no more and no less or a man.

I leave you with another of Brene Brown’s talks.  I find the information in her research her just transformative!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Everyone Has A HeartBreaking Story, No One Gets A Free Ride

by @ 2:14 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

The title of this post comes from Brene Brown, a shame and empathy researcher who gathered thousands of stories from thousands of people.  She makes it clearer for us, after hearing and studying all these stories that no one rides for free. Everyone you meet has a heartbreaking, sad, gut wrenching story to tell.   No matter if you are the little rich kid from San Diego, CA or the poor kid in New Haven, CT.  There is no free ride.  We all have a story to tell that would break your heart.

I have to say, since moving to CT, I have learned this.  This is one of the richer states in the union and yet it has some of the most blatant systemic racism, eye opening poverty and some of the saddest stories I have ever heard from both the rich and the poor.  We all have our stories and at the heart of those stories is our own basic human needs that we are all trying to meet.  The psychologist Glasser in his theory named them as FUN, LOVE, WORTH and FREEDOM.

One of the things that surprises me is just how often we see other people as perfect or even see them as having little or no problems when in reality, that isn’t the case.  We are all walking around with our own baggage.  The weight and size of the baggage varies from person to person as one would expect.  It doesn’t change the fact, everyone’s got something they carry with them.  We all have our stories.

Another surprise I find are those who claim to have no story, no baggage and are quick to tell other what they think is other people’s baggage.  I once experienced a women who could easily paint you a picture of her life being perfect and explain to you all the things wrong with your life.   Funny enough, that isn’t what I saw when I saw her.  I mostly saw a lonely person, scared and fighting to own anyone’s story but her own.

I have learned from a few years of doing NVC, conflict management, and mediation work that not all of us own up to our stories.  Brene Brown has certainly given me words to describe something I have seen for many years listening to people’s “Sides” of the stories.  I notice they want to own the story they believe will pull you to their side rather than the story that is really their’s.  This of course doesn’t happen all the time and still, it does happen often enough for me to think to myself, “Stop telling me what you think I want to hear, and tell me the story that is really your’s”

I have been thinking, like everyone does at this time of year, about my new year, 2011 and what I want for me as a person.   I guess every year for the past decade I have picked things about who I am and who I want to be and tried to work on them.  I think in this coming year, I want to work on really owning my story and as Brene Brown says, “living life wholeheartedly” and authentically as I can.  I think this mean not saying yes to things I don’t really want to do.  It means not worrying about being perfect, looking perfect, saying perfect things or worrying if I am good enough. This also means caring less about what people “think” of me, especially those who don’t really know me, which I add is many people.

I plan to make the next year another one of those years where I continue to grow.  I have spent the past few years working on being compassionate to others, even if I don’t like them. I worked on being patient, being empathetic, being mindful.   This year I would like to start advocating that same compassion in how i treat myself.   I plan on owning my story and being content with it.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

SPLC Updates List of Hate Groups Now includes Peter LaBarbera

by @ 12:20 pm. Filed under Americans For Truth, hate speech, Joe's Rants

About 3 years ago, I sent an email to the SPLC asking why Peter LaBarbera was not on their list of anti-gay hate groups.   I don’t remember the exact reason they gave me.  It amounted to something saying they really didn’t know too much about him or something like that.  I have since lost the email, so I can’t say I really remember the answer.

I now see, Mr. Labarbera is listed as a hate group along with a few other groups I also believe belong on the list.  LaBarbera like many of those on the list make the claim that gay groups and liberals are trying to silence them, end the debate, etc.  A claim I not only would refute, I find it amusing.  A long list of bloggers, pro-equality groups and others have been debating LaBarbera for years.  The issue is when we nail him on his facts, his faulty research or lack of decency toward folks like Jeremy Hooper at GoodAsYou whose wedding picture Labarbera has hijacked and defaced, Peter seems to run, hide or scream utter nonsense.

I would offer to Mr. LaBarbera and others who claim GLBT groups are trying to silence them, we have been debating for years and debates are useless and dialogue is impossible with someone whose relies on biased criteria as a starting point.   As this point, I believe the debate is over.  Even the idea someone would debate our lives and loves like it is just a political issue is pretty offense to me.    Peter’s presentation of our lives leaves me feeling pretty irritated because I value honesty, integrity and most of all respect.  A few of the values not met for me when I look at his blog.

Anyway, I mostly am trying saying that I am happy the SPLC has added Americans for Truth to their list.  I appreciate it because it discredits many of the outright lies and attacks he inflicts on gays and lesbians.  It also makes it more difficult for him to raise money and make a living at the expense of others.

I would also offer to Mr. LaBarbera and others like him that since leaving the world of daily blogging I have step into a world where I regularly see young lives taken by street violence.  I see folks struggling to get jobs, feed families and find healthcare.  I see incredible amounts of systemic racism against Black, Hispanic and other nonwhite groups.   I see lots of areas where Mr. LaBarbera could place his energy and be a lot more inline with the message of the Jesus I learned about in the bible.

At a recent conflict workshop series I did here in New Haven, CT, a young minority woman said to me, “If you kill a Yale Student, it is National news, when you kill one of us, it is another day in the ‘hood.” I have to admit hearing these words from a young person hurt because I value life.  I heard another state how it is easier to get  gun than a job.  I would love to see the LaBarbera’s of the world, the Bryan Fischer’s of the world and other anti-gay groups start putting the money and energy where your mouth is.   You say you are really about god, Jesus and the bible then prove it by taking the thousands of dollars you are making at the expense of others lives and starting putting the money to the well being and enriching of others lives.

[powered by WordPress.]

"Be the change you wish to see in the world"
Mahatma Gandhi

internal links:


search blog:


April 2018
« Sep    


Gay and Lesbian Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory Technorati Profile----- Join the best atheist themed blogroll!

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.

42 queries. 0.361 seconds