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Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Book by Peace Actvist Priest

by @ 11:38 am. Filed under Nonviolence

A new book hit the market this week by a priest who went from frat boy to being arrested 75 times in the name of a nonviolent Jesus Christ.   The author was also a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008.  The book is called “Persistent Peace: One Man’s Struggle for a Nonviolent World” and chronicles a life a nonviolent civil disobedience in the name of Christ.   I have added this book to my wish list because it really sounds like a winner.    I have met few people who live the Sermon on the Mt. as written in the bible and it sounds as if this man is really doing it.  I will be excited to read this.

How does a “spoiled, wealthy frat boy” go from beer-chugging contests in a Duke University fraternity to peace activism and more than 75 arrests in the name of the nonviolent Jesus? John Dear, SJ, a 2008 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, tells his story in A Persistent Peace: One Man’s Struggle for a Nonviolent World. An E-book is also available.

Chicago, IL (Vocus/PRWEB ) March 27, 2009 — How does a “spoiled, wealthy frat boy” go from beer-chugging contests in a Duke University fraternity to peace activism and more than 75 arrests in the name of the nonviolent Jesus? John Dear, SJ, a 2008 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, tells his story in A Persistent Peace: One Man’s Struggle for a Nonviolent World. An E-book is also available.

Dear has organized hundreds of demonstrations against war and nuclear weapons. His work has taken him to war zones around the world, including Iraq, where he led a delegation of Nobel Peace Prize winners to witness the effects of sanctions on Iraqi children. It hasn’t been an easy life. His activism was generally not supported by his superiors, and he was considered “unmissionable” and “disobedient” by one Jesuit superior.

But for Dear, commitment to nonviolence is an all-or-nothing proposition. A Persistent Peace is the story of his consistent and tireless work for peace, including his arrests and imprisonments, death threats made against him for criticizing the military (including a threat from the father of one of his students at a Jesuit high school, who threatened to shoot him dead in front of his class), and many other amazing stories of social action for peace.

Dear experienced a profound transformation during college that began with the musical and spiritual mentorship of the late jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams, a Catholic Christian artist-in-residence at Duke. Dear was also rocked to the core by biographies of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., compelled by their compassion and commitment to nonviolence. His aspirations for success as a pop star, lawyer, or in the family trade of newspaper publishing gave way to the priesthood and a life dedicated to stopping war. Dear makes clear that the peace cause is an urgent one that concerns each person.

He shares what he has learned in the struggle: “Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Dr. King, the Berrigans, and Merton were right: nonviolence holds the key to personal, social, and global transformation,” says Dear. “Steadfast, organized nonviolence does work; it leads to new avenues of justice, peace and hope.”

A Persistent Peace: One Man’s Struggle for a Nonviolent World
by John Dear, SJ
Loyola Press $22.95 hardcover

Michelle Halm
PR & Communications Manager
773-281-1818 x204
mhalm (at) loyolapress.com


Friday, March 27, 2009

Quote of the Day: Greg Mortenson

by @ 4:21 pm. Filed under Nonviolence, Quote of the Day

I happen to come across this article on ABC News for their person of the week series and thought this man’s statement was really relevant to our world today and very congruent with how I think about terrorism and peace.

Mortenson is a peace activist and author who wrote the book, “Three Cups of Tea.” He came upon a village after climbing K2.  The villagers brought him back to health after his climb.  He promised the children of the village he would help them build a school.   ABC News is reporting on how he made that wish come true.  I was inspired to read this article and hope you will be too!  It will also air on the 6:30pm news broadcast, which I  must admit is only an hour from the time of me writing this.   Hopefully it will make it to YouTube as well.

Person of the week: Greg Mortenson

More Photos

Greg Mortenson has been promoting peace by building schools and purging ignorance in Pakistan and Afghanistan for more than a decade.

In 1996, Mortenson returned to Korphe to build the promised school. He came to understand how important education was in the fight against ills such as overpopulation, poverty and terrorism.


“If you fight terrorism, that’s based in fear. But if you promote peace, that’s based in hope,” Mortenson said. “And the real enemy I think is ignorance. It’s ignorance that breeds hatred.”

 Continue Reading this story at ABC News

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Video: Dominic Barter on Restorative Circles

by @ 11:41 am. Filed under Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication, Restorative Justice

or watch at youtube

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tips to Addressing Workplace Conflict in 3 Steps

by @ 10:38 am. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

Each year businesses and organizations lose millions of dollars due to unresolved workplace conflict.  Mediate.com reports that over 50% of all departures are due to unresolved conflict.   On the other hand, those businesses who have positive action plans to handle conflict such as peer mediation or conflict coaches report much lower turnover, better productivity and less absenteeism. Below are some is a simple three step process to addressing workplace conflict.

Create a Bond with the Person While Separating Them From the Problem

One of the things I have learned about dealing with interpersonal and organizational conflict is that we have to be able to express to others what is it they are doing that is not making our lives wonderful.  Whether that is one person or a group of people, we need to be able to make clear observations about what it is someone is doing and communicate that to them without bringing out any defensive energy.    Saying to an employee, “You are always late, what are we going to do about this” and saying that in the nicest of ways is still likely to get a defensive reaction of “No I’m not always late.” Even if we used I statements in that and said, “I am concerned that you are always late.” If we truly want to address the behavior, we must be able able to make a clear observation free of moral judgment, evaluation or diagnosis.   We can do this by stating just the facts as we know them.  “This is the 3rd day you have come in past 9 o’clock”

This separates the person from the action. We need to do this so we can connect and bond with them in meaningful ways.   George Kohlrieser states in his book, Hostage at the Table that, “Hostage negotiators are able to negotiate with desperate people because they are able to bond with them, irrespective of the acts that such individuals may have committed.  Without a bond, there will not be a negotiation.  Every act of violence involves a break or disruption in the bonding process.”  What Kohlrieser is saying is nothing new.  We have all heard the saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” We can disagree with what a person is doing and still connect with that person in meaningful ways to create change.   It is what Gandhi, King and other peace figures in society have said for decades.  We must separate people from problems.   Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his 1958 book Stride Toward Freedom, “Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people.”  By separating the actions from the person and creating a bond, we are connecting with the person. We are able to open the doors for dialogue and communication.   We cannot solve a problem or conflict with others until we have created a safe space for negotiation and problem solving to happen.

By creating a clear observation of the behavior, we are now in a position to see the person as a person and the action as behavior.    We can begin the process of bonding with the person while addressing the problem or conflict separately by creating a place of trust not a place of defensiveness.

STEP ONE:  To take this first step, think of something, someone is doing right now that you would like to talk with them about and write down in a statement form the “observation” you would like to express to this person.   Try using this form:  “When I see you (or hear you say) ……..”   Be specific and free of diagnosis, evaluation, judgments, and comparisons to others.   Just state the facts about the behavior.

Understand the Role of Needs in Behavior and the Resulting Feelings Attached to Those Needs

French author Thomas D’Ansembourg in his book, Being Genuine: How to Stop Being Nice and Start Being Real  uses the metaphor of a car’s dashboard to explain the relationship between our feelings and our needs.   He explains that just as the lights and indicators on the dashboard tell the driver what the car is needing like oil or gas, our feelings are physical indicators of what needs of ours are not met or met.   If we are feeling hungry it is an indicator we need sustenance.   If we are feeling tired, it is an indicator we need rest. Once we have learned that our needs are the cause of our feelings, we can stop blaming other people for “making us feel” anything.  Also, by being able to understand a person’s feelings and the needs behind those feelings, we are better able to create the bond that is vital to resolving conflict.

Be sure you are expressing a feeling and not a thought.  When you use the words “I feel” avoid following that with “as if” or “like” and most importantly don’t follow it with a person’s name or pronouns like “you” or “he.” Feelings are physical emotions caused by chemicals in our brains.   Ask yourself if the word you are using is really a feeling or if you have chosen action words instead.  Action words are words we use as if they are feelings when they actually imply someone is doing something to us.   These are the words that invoke defenses and build walls.   Examples of these words would be “attacked” or “abused.”   These words fail to connect others with what is really going on inside us therefore acting as a block to the bond we are trying to create.

Maslow, Glasser, Rosenberg and even Kohlrieser all agree as psychologists that all human behavior is in the service of human needs.  Everything we do is an attempt to meet our needs.   As managers or supervisors, understanding what needs an individual person is trying to meet with their actions can more easily separate the person from the problem.   We can see that the strategies they choose may be in conflict with our values and open the opportunity for us to explore new strategies to meet their needs as well as our own.  With the right strategies and meaningful dialogue, everyone’s needs can be met.

STEP TWO:  Add to your statement from step one your feelings and needs.   It might read something like this…”When I see you..(insert observation from step one) …..I feel….(insert a real emotion)…..because I need or value (now insert a need not a strategy)……

Know the Difference Between Requests and Demands

Once we you have identified the behavior and turned it into a clear observation statement and you have expressed your feelings and needs in relation to this observation, it is time to form a request that either suggests actions to take that will meet needs or that creates connection and understanding about what we said.  For instance,  if we where talking about the late employee we might say, “John, I see this is the 3rd day in a row that you have come in past 9 O’clock.  I am feeling frustrated because I really need some acknowledgment of our agreement at the staff meeting to all be here at 9.  Just so I know I am being clear, would you be willing to tell me what you are hearing me say right now?” This gives the other person a chance to clarify what is going on with them.  The employee might reply by saying, “You think I don’t care about this job” and we can then see that we haven’t made the connection that we needed to manage the conflict.  We now have a chance to “reconnect” and”bond” with this person and find out what is going on for them by listening empathetically for their needs and feelings regardless what words they use.

When our request is an action request, we connect best when we ask for specific actions, in the moment and using positive action language.  That means we are going to ask for what we want someone to do as opposed to asking for what we don’t want someone to do.   We don’t want to ask people to “stop” or “not” do something.  We instead want to tell them what we “DO” want them to do.

Behind all of this care and attention we take on choosing the right words, we truly make connections and bond when we are focused on the intentions behind our words.  It is less likely others will hear our request as a demand if we keep our intention to be connection to what is really going on for them.   Curiosity is the key to connection and bonding with other people.  We need to remain curious what is happening for other people and what needs they are trying to meet.   Marshall Rosenberg writes in his book Speak Peace that we should ask ourselves two questions:

  1. What is it that we want someone to do?
  2. What do we want there reasons to be for doing it?

When our requests are heard as demands, people have only have the choices of giving in to what we want out of fear of punishment or the promise of reward or not giving in out of spite.  None of those choices are connecting to the energy of doing things because we see the value in doing them.   In employment terms, we are talking about the difference between those who do their jobs for the love of their jobs and those who do it because they believe they “have to” in order to survive.  We always want to try and make our requests negotiable so that people have the ability to say “no” and that we are open to the idea that there exists other strategies to meet our needs.   When someone says “no” to our request, they are really saying they would like to explore other strategies that would meet “both” our needs.   By being willing to connect with this person and stay bonded to them during the conflict at hand, we can explore ideas of getting everyone’s needs met regardless what has happen.   If everyone is getting their needs met, then the conflict isn’t much of a conflict anymore.

STEP THREE:   Add to your statement from step one and step two a clear request.   It might read something like this…”When I see you..(insert observation from step one) …..I feel….(insert a real emotion)…..because I need or value (insert a need not a strategy)……Lastly,  request (not demand) that which would meet needs being prepared for a “no” and prepared to explore other strategies that meet everyone’s needs.

This article is based on NVC, the work of Marshall Rosenberg and the Center for Nonviolent Communication and also George Kohlrieser and the book, Hostage at the Table. You can learn more about NVC  by visiting www.cnvc.org.  You can learn more about Joe Brummer by visiting www.speakcompassion.com

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Taking it to the Streets: Teny Gross Teaches Kids Nonviolence

by @ 1:48 pm. Filed under Nonviolence

This is a great article from Harvard Magazine about the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence, RI.  I have had the pleasure of studying Nonviolence there and being trained as a trainer in one of the programs.   I have met Teny and can tell you I am inspired by the things he is doing.   I offer this article to you so you can be inspired by his work and the power of nonviolence as well.

Taking It to the StreetsPage_73_01
Teny Gross teaches kids nonviolence.

by Nell Porter Brown

David C. grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. With no father around and a drug-addicted mother, he  moved through foster homes, gathering a fragile sense of worth from a gang of friends. “All I aspired to was being important on the street,” he says. “There was nothing about a future.” He spent five years in juvenile detention and a few in prison, and still has a reputation among local cops for living up to his nickname, “Devious,” for once escaping through the police-station roof.

At 37, he is still hanging out with the kids—in the schools, at their homes, the hospital, or the mall. But as a street worker with the city’s Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, he now prevents the very violence he once provoked.

Like David, most of the street workers are ex-gang members or former local criminals, says Teny Oded Gross, M.T.S. ’01, the institute’s founding executive director. Their backgrounds make them uniquely suited for what it takes to thwart a single act of violence: hours of face-to-face counseling of kids during their most heated, impulsive moments—when they might otherwise pull out a gun and do irreversible damage. “My job is not pretty—it’s not sending kids to Harvard, or anything fancy,” Gross explains. “It’s about keeping kids in this city alive between the ages of 14 and 23.”

The kids are even willing to die for their housing projects. “These beefs are territorial, not ethnic or racial,” David explains on a drive through the darkened streets to visit kids at the Chad Brown Housing Development. A group of teenagers eyes the passing car. “They look at every occupant, every car,” he says. “If you see one slow down with people inside wearing hoods, then you worry. That makes your hair stand on end.”

Continue Reading…

Book Review: Hostage at the Table by George Kohlrieser

by @ 1:37 pm. Filed under Book Reviews, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Nonviolence

The chances of any of us being taken hostage by an armed madman are thankfully pretty low.  On the other hand, our chances of being held psychological hostage to our own fears or the control of others is pretty high.  In fact, I would bet to say many of us are psychological hostages to the unresolved conflicts in our lives.   George Kohlrieser has been a professional hostage negotiator for decades and brings his years of conflict resolution skills in compact form in the book, Hostage at the Table.

From the get-go this book is captivating with stories of hostage situations taken from Kohlriser’s own experiences as a hostage negotiator.  By explaining the  nature of conflict and the biology of the “fight or flight” nature of our minds,  he gives us a clear picture of why so many of us are being held psychological hostages.   He takes us through the skills hostage negotiators use to resolve conflicts and shows how those same skills can be used by business leaders, parents and educators to prevent us from being psychological hostages to the everyday conflict that comes up in our lives.  Noting that hostage negotiators have a success rate of over 90 percent, this book offers skills to make life more wonderful by learning to deal with conflict.

I found that most of this book and its offerings fit really well with the foundations of Nonviolent Communication.  Kohlriser talks about the importance of “bonding and attachment” and learning to bond even with an ‘enemy’ and becoming a “secure-base” are the keys to never thinking like a hostage.  He talks extensively about how the bonding process is one of the key skills all hostage negotiators use to create a safe space where dialogue and negotiation can occur.   He stresses the importance of connection, which is the goal and purpose of Nonviolence Communication.   For this reason, I would recommend all NVC practitioners read this book.  I would also urge all business leaders, community activists and politicians to also read this book.

Kohlrieser uses an interesting metaphor in his book that he calls, “putting the fish on the table” where he compares conflict resolution to cleaning and gutting fish.   It is a rather gross and bloody metaphor and it works beautifully by noting that when we leave the fish under the table, they fester become toxic and rot under the table and when we put the fish on the table and do the work of gutting and scaling, we are working toward a beautiful dinner that we can enjoy.    His point being that to live a beautiful life, we need to put our fish on the table and deal with the mess before we can move on to the beauty of life.

Kohlrieser points out that all hostage takers have suffered great loss.  For almost every event of shootings, hijackings, or people barricading themselves into their homes, we find the individuals have suffered great losses.  Whether it was a job, the death of a loved one or the loss of one’s home.

Some of Kohlrieser’s  guidelines for solving conflict:


An important thing I would like to note about this book is how Kohlrieser explains that the research shows that a person is incapable of killing another person.  First, they must dehumanize them to where they are seen as an object.  By creating a  bond with their captors, many people have managed to stay alive.  In the opening story, Kohlrieser tells of a grandmother who bonds with a man who broke into her house in the middle of the night by offering to cook him dinner and give him a place to sleep.  Later, in the morning they discover the man was a psychopathic murderer who had murdered the family who were the nearest neighbors.  This lesson about bonding and dehumanizing is a valuable lesson to understanding hate crimes and the part that “hate speech” plays in these crimes.   By dehumanizing gays and lesbians, blacks, immigrants, and others into objects rather than people, it is easier for everyday people to justify violence against them.   This is why it is so important that we bond and create dialogue with those who create such speech so they understand the outcomes of their words.

You can read the first chapter of the book, including the story of the grandmother here. (PDF files and requires AcrobatReader)

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