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Lions Roar : May 2018
that our actions affect everyone else and to be mindful of that with every step we take.” Pardeep Kaleka and Arno Michaelis have written a book about their personal journeys and their work together. The Gift of Our Wounds will be released in April. ARNO MICHAELIS SAYS he now defines hate as “the willful denial of compassion,” and says white supremacy thrives on violent opposition. “People who romanticize the violent opposition to neo-Nazis are playing right into the neo-Nazis’ hand,” he says. “They’re only helping them grow, recruit, and galvanize members.” Michaelis says the only thing that reached him when he was so mired in hate was the demonstration of what was right. “Hate in the world will never be resolved by applying more hate,” he says. “The simplest and most powerful tool when you’re dealing with hateful ideology is to remember that hurt people hurt people. Violence stems from suffering, and people who perpetrate violence of any sort, whether it’s bullying in a classroom or a mean com- ment on Facebook or a world war, the people doing that are hurting. When we are mindful of that, we can respond with compassion, which interrupts the cycle of violence rather than fuels it.” Michaelis says this doesn’t mean accepting or approv- ing, or not trying to stop this harmful behavior: “But it does mean that we do it with compassion so we don’t exacerbate the problem by adding our own trauma and aggression in the mix.” Michaelis says he reminds himself of this daily. “If someone cuts me off in traffic and I get angry, I tell myself I don’t know why they’re driving like that. Maybe their kid’s in the ER or they’re late and they’ll lose their job. That helps me stop the cycle of anger, and to have domain over my emotions, my mind, and my actions.” He once lived a life steeped in extremism and vio- lence, but today Arno Michaelis works to overcome hate through understanding, love, and compassion. And although he’s a Buddhist, his real teachers may be people like the cashier at McDonald’s, the woman who could see the goodness hidden behind the swastika. ♦ (top) When Pardeep Kaleka’s father was killed by a neo-Nazi, he reached out to Michaelis for answers. The two bonded, and Kaleka invited him to help lead Serve 2 Unite. (middle) Serve 2 Unite connects former extremists and victims of extremism with young people to create projects to heal communities. (bottom) Michaelis greets Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, leader of the Shambhala Buddhist community. PHOTOBYARNOMICHAELISS LION’S ROAR | MAY 2018 41