Yelling Without “Yelling”

April 12, 2013

Globe was watching “Survivor” the other day on the computer, and I had mentioned that I still had never seen single episode of that show. So when we got back to the house later that night, we put it on the TV. At one point two of the contestants were having a heated debate (of course they were, It’s a reality show). One of them said to the other, “please don’t yell at me,” to which the other replied back aggressively, “I’m not yelling at you!”

And technically that contestent was right, he wasn’t “yelling.”

The dictionary defines “yelling” as to “utter a loud cry.” And this character wasn’t being loud. His volume wasn’t high. But his tone was aggressive, his language was sharp, and the tension in the conversation had clearly escalated.

Conflict can escalate even if the volume doesn’t

You can “yell” without “yelling.” You can “yell” without raising your voice. And yes, I’m saying the dictionary is wrong.

“Stop yelling.” I’m sure we’ve probably all had that said to us. And I’m sure there are plenty of times that we didn’t feel like we were yelling, so we responded with a sharp (and quiet), “I’m not yelling!” I know I have.

And as I think about it, in many of those cases I was technically right. I rarely “yell.” I have a loud voice naturally as people who know me know, but I don’t “utter a loud cry” very often.

But conflict can escalate even if the volume doesn’t. Even if you’re talking in a whisper, depending on the tone of the conversation it can feel like you’re being yelled at. And it can be annoying to be accused of being yelled at when you technically aren’t. When I feel like I’m being falsely accused of yelling, I often times end up escalating the conflict even more by responding back, “I’m not yelling!”

And I usually whisper it really loudly.

Often times when people accuse each other of yelling, they’re not actually talking about the volume, they’re not talking about the dictionary definition of “yelling.” They’re not accusing you of raising your volume, they’re accusing you of raising the level of conflict from a normal level to a pervasive level. They’re not asking you to lower your volume, they’re asking you to lower the level of conflict.

It could be tone. It could be language. It could be body motion or posture. It could be about interrupting each other and not listening. It could be about one person standing up, or stepping closer to the other. It could be about facial expressions. There are many ways for conflict to escalate, and volume is just one of them. There are many ways to be aggressive, and any of them can cause fear and/or harm. Any one of them can make someone feel like they’re being yelled at.

So next time I feel like I’m being falsely accused of yelling, I’m going to try to take a deep breath and reflect on Survivor. Maybe I am “yelling,” even if I’m whispering.

Thank you UC Irvine!

February 7, 2013

L to R, Globe, Doc, Kazu and UCI student leader Angelina Dayfallah

At the end of January, PPWN was able to join our chair Dr. Bernard Lafayette at the University of CA Irvine, as he received the prestigious Citizen Peacebuilding Award, an honor that has previously gone to the Dalai Lama, President Jimmy Carter, and Mikhail Gorbachev.  During the trip, we were able to help with two workshops, one for students and another for faculty, and Doc was able to present to two classes in addition to the evening event where he received the award.

UCI seems very interested in exploring what it might mean for them to institutionalize Kingian Nonviolence on their campus.  We are grateful to all the students and faculty that made this all possible, especially student leader and Kingian Nonviolence trainer Angelina Dayfallah, who took the lead in organizing all of the events.  We look forward to working with UCI in the future to continue to expand our Beloved Community!

Check out videos of Doc’s presentations below.

Highlights of Doc’s speech before receiving the award

Full speech and presentation of the award

Doc speaking to a class on community based research

Doc speaking to a class on mediation and negotation

More People! More Power!! More Progress!!!




Waging Nonviolence: MLK’s Final Marching Orders

January 21, 2013

1965 anti-civil rights billboard in Selma, Ala., showing Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Highlander School. (Flickr/Penn State Special Collections)

“Now, Bernard, the next movement we’re going to have is to institutionalize and internationalize nonviolence.”

It was a comment made almost in passing. Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Jr., then the national coordinator for the Poor People’s Campaign, was walking out of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s motel room in Memphis, Tenn.

Dr. Lafayette figured this was a conversation that they would finish later, and he walked out of the room and headed to Washington, D.C., to attend a press conference. But the two would never go on to finish that discussion; five hours later, Dr. King was assassinated.

Dr. Lafayette was determined to not let Dr. King’s vision die with him. He took those last words, “institutionalize and internationalize nonviolence,” as what he has since called his “final marching orders” and has been working ever since to accomplish just that.

In the late 1980s, Dr. Lafayette joined forces with David Jehnsen, another activist who was involved in the civil rights movement and was responsible for drafting the first proposal for the U.S. Institute of Peace. Together, they created the Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation training curriculum.  READ THE REST OF THIS STORY AT WAGINGNONVIOLENCE.ORG

Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King!!!

January 15, 2013

Today, January 15th, would have marked Dr. Martin Luther King’s 84th birthday.  I find myself wondering how things might be different if he were still with us today.  But while his heart may have stopped beating in 1968, his legacy continues to live with us today.  His dream is far from being realized, and it’s up to all of us to ensure that one day, we will reach the Beloved Community he spoke so passionately about.

As the nation moves into a week filled with activities, ceremonies and events organized in his honor, let’s remind ourselves of what Dr. King really stood for.  If we are going to continue to use his name and image as a moral compass for this nation, we owe it to him to never forget what his real legacy is.

While it is great that many communities will come together over this weekend to celebrate, to participate in neighborhood clean up projects and other activities as part of the “Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service,” I can’t help but think what he would have thought of people cleaning up trash from the streets in his memory as homeless people sleep on those same sidewalks.  What would he have thought of us celebrating the work he did in the 60s as young people are being murdered in the streets today?  What would he have said about big banks and corporations spending lavishly to build him statues while kicking people out of their homes, or of McDonalds celebrating Black History while poisoning the community?

Not all of those things are “bad” things.  People should be beautifying our neighborhoods, corporations should be honoring the legacy of great leaders of the past.  But if that’s all we do when we think of King, we are doing him, and the nation a disservice.

Today, tomorrow, and every day from this point on, let us remind ourselves what King really stood for, and let’s commit ourselves to being a part of his living legacy.

King was not simply a “nice” person who wanted all people to get along.  He was a fierce organizer who was not afraid of confrontation.  He was not only a man who had some wonderful dream one night, but a man who had the courage and the audacity to take to the streets and demand justice.   He was a man who called his government the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world” and wanted to see a movement that was “nonviolent, but militant, and as dramatic, as dislocative, as disruptive, as attention-getting as the riots.”

If we are to ever get anywhere close to seeing his dream come to reality, we must never water down his message.  We must always have the courage to stand up and speak out against all forms of injustice, no matter where it is coming from.  That is how we will honor his legacy.  And that is how we should celebrate his birthday.

We need to shift how his Holiday is framed and celebrated.  It is not enough to have a “day of service.”  No, we need to demand a “day of justice.”  And in our struggle for justice, let us also keep in mind that King reminded all of us that Agape, unconditional love for humanity, is the most powerful weapon at our disposal.  As radical and as militant as his politics and tactics were at times, it was always grounded in the power of love.

I want to leave folks with this, a video of Dr. King’s favorite singer, Mahalia Jackson, singing Precious Lord, Take My Hand.  After he was shot in Memphis, his last words were to musician Ben Branch, who was at King’s side.  He said, “Ben, make sure you play ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.”



My 30-day fast to promote Dr. King’s revolutionary nonviolent message

January 2, 2013

This statement was authored by Carol Bragg and is being reposted here with permission.

An Appeal to the President, U.S. Congress, Governors, and State Legislatures to Embrace Dr. King’s Revolution in Values and Commitment to Nonviolence

On January 1, I shall begin a 30-day fast to appeal to the president of the United States, the U.S. Congress, and the governors and legislatures of the 50 states to embrace the revolution in values and commitment to nonviolence that are part of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  January 1 is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.  January 30 is the Memorial Day for both Mahatma Gandhi and Coretta Scott King.

The year 2013 is an historic year, marking the 50th anniversary of events that forever changed America: the assassination of our beloved President John F. Kennedy, the March on Washington where Dr. King delivered his inspiring I Have a Dream speech, and the Birmingham, Alabama campaign in which black schoolchildren were met with high-pressure fire hoses and police dogs, perhaps the best example in our nation’s history of the power of unarmed love to defeat the forces of violence and evil. In addition, Dr. King published his collection of sermons, Strength to Love. In the wake of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, 2013 is a year that cries out for national action. Read the rest of this entry »

I Agree with Mike Huckabee

December 23, 2012

I sorta agree with Mike Huckabee.  There, I said it.

If you haven’t already heard, former Presidential candidate and current Fox News personality Mike Huckabee caused a minor uproar for some comments he made last week in response to the shooting in Newtown, CT.

Appearing on Fox News, Huckabee said that part of the reason for the violence in our school systems is that we have “systematically removed God from our schools.”

Mike-Huckabee copy

And, understandably, many people came out and criticized him for making such comments.

But I sort of agree with Huckabee.  Sort of.

I’ve been struggling with this for a few days and I recently saw a post from a Facebook friend expressing similar thoughts, so I thought I’d put mine down on paper (also known as a laptop) to see if I can make more sense of it.  So hear me out.

Huckabee went on to say that our school systems have become “a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability.”

“People are going to want to pass new laws,” he continued.  “This is a heart issue… laws don’t change this kind of thing.”

Speaking as a non-Christian Read the rest of this entry »

PPWN Statement on CT Shooting

December 16, 2012

A vigil for the CT shooting

As so many others have already expressed, there are no words that can properly convey the overwhelming sense of sadness we all feel as we find out more information about the tragedy that took place in Newton, CT.

As we took the weekend to mourn those that have passed, we remind ourselves that this tragedy must be viewed as a cry for help from a sick society.  If we are able to allow this incident to catalyze us to look deeply at the soul of our society and commit to healing from the pain that causes mass shooting after mass shooting, then we can ensure that the 20 children and 7 adults who died did not die in vain.

This tragedy wasn’t just about Adam Lanza, the 20-year old gunman who was once himself a 5-year old child.  This tragedy is about the society that raised Adam, the same one that raised Jacob Roberts, Andrew Engeldinger, James Eagan Holmes, Wade Michael Page and any other number of men who have recently gone on shooting sprees.

In the fall of 1963, Dr. King addressed a crowd at the funeral of three of the four young girls who were killed in a church bombing in Birmingham, AL.  He reminded us that, “we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderes.”

So how do we begin to look beyond the “lone shooter,” and address the root causes of violence?

Who is the “victim?”
Before we begin to point fingers and assign blame, we must realize that all of us as a society are impacted by these types of tragedies.  What impacts one directly affects all of us indirectly.

And yet, our hearts go out particularly to those who were directly impacted: the children, their parents, and the community around Sandy Brook Elementary School.  The first thing many of us did when we heard about the tragedy was to think of the children in our own lives, and there is little we can say that will bring comfort to those who lost loved ones.

But there is perhaps another victim that we need to consider, and that is Adam Lanza himself.  In a phone call with Dr. Bernard LaFayette Jr. this morning, he said that “the last person [Adam] killed was himself, but the first person to die was himself.” Read the rest of this entry »

PPWN Featured in Street Spirit!

December 7, 2012


The December edition of Street Spirit is hot off the press!

The December edition of Street Spirit is hot off the press!

Street Spirit is a monthly news magazine published by the American Friends Service Committee, and given out to homeless men and women throughout the Bay Area for free so that they can sell it on the streets as a source of income.

Two months ago, Street Spirit covered Dr. Bernard Lafayette’s visit to the Bay Area with a long interview and an article about his visit.

This month, they were kind enough to profile the work of PPWN and post an interview with Operations Director and Bay Area Coordinator Kazu Haga.

Check out both articles online below, and if you live in the Bay Area, make sure to pick up a copy if you see it being sold in the streets!  Help to spread the word about our work, support a person struggling with homelessness, and support a great magazine all at the same time!

Bringing Dr. King’s Message to a New Generation
This is how a legacy is passed on to a new generation: Martin Luther King gave his life to spreading the message of nonviolence. After he was assassinated, Bernard Lafayette picked up the fallen torch, and passed it on to Kazu Haga. Now Kazu shares this vision with the next CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

Building the Positive Peace Warrior Network: The Interview with Kazu Haga
Kazu Haga is dedicated to spreading Martin Luther King’s vision of the Beloved Community to the next generation. Rev. King believed that his philosophy of nonviolent resistance could be effective not just in the struggle against segregation, but also in the struggle against militarism, and in the struggle against economic CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

David Hartsough’s Statement on Protesting Drone Attacks

November 9, 2012

David Hartsough

David Hartsough is a lifelong nonviolent activist, having participated in the lunch-counter sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement, and is STILL a committed activist, participating in demonstrations and risking arrest in the name of peace and justice.  He has also been a major supporter of our work at PPWN.

PPWN honors all of our elders, but gives special appreciation to elders like David, who not only celebrates the work he did decades ago, but is still engaged in the struggle today.  We have much to learn from the commitment of people like him.

On October 30th of this year, David was arrested again (he has over 125 arrests on his rap sheet!), this time protesting the use of Drones by the US Military at Beale Air Force Base.  He is now facing federal charges.

Please see below the statement from David about why he decided to take this particular action.  Find out more about his work by visiting, and look out for his book of stories on nonviolent struggles in the coming months!

David Hartsough’s Statement:
We are one human family. All people in the world are our brothers and sisters. If someone attacks our blood brother or sister, e would do everything in our power to stop them.

This is the way we feel about innocent civilians being killed by drones in Afghanistan
and Pakistan.

Drones are totally immoral Read the rest of this entry »

An Open Letter to Anarchists from a Nonviolence Practitioner

October 18, 2012


Chances are you’ve never heard of me, but if you have heard of me at all, you probably know me as the nonviolence guy that wants to pacify the movement, is funded by the CIA, and wrote this piece.

While my stance on nonviolence and property destruction hasn’t changed since writing that, one thing that has changed is my understanding of what many of you were trying to do.  When I wrote that piece, I admittedly didn’t know much about anarchist theory, and the intent and strategies behind your actions.

A lot of conflicts in our society begin when we assume we know what the other side is about.  And since that time, I’ve gotten to better know some of the thinking behind some of the actions.

I’ve gotten to know some of you personally, and all jokes and differences aside, I admire the loyalty that many of you show to your people and the courage you show in putting your body on the line for a cause that you believe in.  I believe that more people need to show that type of courage, as I believe that we are in a time in history where radical change is necessary. And to get there, we will need soldiers who are willing to risk their safety.  Just like the Panthers did in the past, just like Che did, just like King did, just like Gandhi did. Read the rest of this entry »