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Confession of a Would-Be Peacenik

(the idea is great,

but how do you actually do it?)


by Lee Brown

Ghandi got my attention.  Jesus Christ was compelling, too, but His earthly visit was so long ago and all kinds of cultural differences and translation concerns stand between us.  Ghandi did his work in my lifetime.  I have seen the newsreels.  I have read his scripts.  I am in awe of the results he got when he took actions that were congruent with his beliefs.  I realize that many died in the process.  In the end, Ghandi gave his life, as well.  I also know that Ghandi's beliefs and methods are not to be measured only by the results in the international playing field.  Parallel efforts can take different courses, not always immediately "successful" and that does not negate their value or their long term effectiveness.  Jesus certainly didn't have an earthly kingdom, nor have many other spiritual leaders whose influence is worldwide.

Still, Ghandi is the first one that brought non-violence to my attention as a viable method of solving conflict.  I am a believer, yet, I have always had a difficult time saying I am a pacifist.  I felt I was a hypocrite.  How could I claim a stake in non-violence when my own heart is often angry.  Life has swept me along and though I have remained interested and supportive of peace efforts, even working in mediation and facilitation, I have felt a clear need for more hands-on mentorship.  How can I bring integrity between my beliefs and my actions, especially when fear, anger, and survival are involved?

I've read every book out there about telling the truth, being authentic, getting real.  I got it.  I know I want to be real.  And my question is, how do I make that work and still get along with other people?   I'm probably a little slow; it's taken me 55 years to find the answer that works for me. 

Recently, someone shared a book they had been reading titled, "Don't Be Nice, Be Real."  I read it through.  Then, I read it again.  It was like water for my thirsty soul.  This guy (the author, Kelly Bryson) was honest about his own feelings, even when I would have considered it embarrassing or too risky to be that vulnerable.  I went to some trainings with Kelly.  I watched him in action.  I saw his own anger come up and how he dealt with it by doing good self-care and understanding what need motivates the feeling of anger, and then how he goes about expressing his needs to others.  I watched him connect very powerfully with antagonists.  I heard his stories about visiting war camps and helping people on both sides of a conflict empathize both with themselves and with people on the other side (often this means people who have killed family members, etc). 

The hands-on teaching style of Kelly Bryson meets my need for participation and personal mastery.  I am finally willing to admit to the world that I believe in non-violence.  I now know how to take actions in harmony with my beliefs.  The tangible skills that I have learned from Kelly (www.language of as well as Marshall Rosenberg ( are making a difference in my life every day. 

I am very excited to be bringing Kelly to Idaho for a training workshop in non-violent communication on Sept 30 - Oct 1, 2005.  Friday, Sept 30, 7-9pm "Don't Be Nice, Be Real"  ($25).  Saturday, Oct 1, 10am-6pm, "When Communication Counts" ($125 includes Fri & Sat).  For more info, call Healing Resources.  208-336-2033.