Alternatives to Conflict


A book by Takashi Yogi

Go back to Home Page

Copyright 1986 by Takashi Yogi. All rights reserved. Revised second edition 1998

This text may be freely distributed in electronic and paper versions with the following provisions:

1. Copies must be distributed free of charge.
2. Right to charge for copies is reserved for the author.
3. Rights to poetry and songs quoted remain with the original author.
4. The text must not be changed and this copyright notice must be included.

This text was published in a paperback version. (Currently out of print.)

ISBN: 0-9617221-0-X

Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 86-90220

Alternating Currents Press
Box 525
Capitola, CA 95010




[The printed version of this book is arranged backwards.]

Yes, this book is arranged backward. You may think it is wrong. Unconventional, yes, but not wrong (or right). There are many alternative arrangements; this one would be normal for Japanese or Hebrew.

This book is about changing our way of looking at human behavior, about getting out of ruts that lead to perennial conflicts. It deals with attitudes that affect all relations, from interpersonal to international.

I invite you to try something unusual. Look at life backwards, upside-down. Temporarily suspend your judgment that this is all wrong. We have spent much time trying all the right answers to the question of conflict. Perhaps we have overlooked some alternatives.


    Part 1 Foundations

  1. What's Wrong with Being Right?
  2. Good Guys vs. Bad Guys
  3. Believing is Seeing
  4. An Integrated World
  5. Acceptance
  6. Accepting Ourselves

    Part 2 Person to Person

  7. Enlightened Self-interest
  8. The Illusion of Selfishness/ Unselfishness
  9. Anger
  10. Tools for Living
  11. Marriage
  12. Children
  13. The Transition to Acceptance

    Part 3 Society

  14. Discontent
  15. The Limits of Political Power
  16. Labels and Discrimination
  17. Crime, Punishment, and Justice for All
  18. Abortion
  19. Labor and Management

    Part 4 The World

  20. Revolutions
  21. War
  22. What about Hitler?
  23. One World


Chapter 1

What's Wrong with Being Right?

	Truth is an illusion.  The basic concept of truth is misleading 
because it tantalizes us with an object that we can never quite 
reach.  Truth is like a rainbow.  We all agree that rainbows exist, 
we can photograph them and explain their existence 
scientifically, but we can never touch one.  Similarly, truth as an 
absolute, unchanging thing is always out of reach.   
	Sometimes truth seems to be firmly in our grasp. The 
scientific truth of the indestructibility of matter was established 
for more than a hundred years and was confirmed by countless 
experiments.  But the nuclear age changed this truth.  The 
problem with truth is that it does not come in neat packages that 
one can find and keep forever.  Many people want that kind of 
certainty and seek politicians and religious leaders who will 
supply it.  But truth in matters of religion, morals, and politics 
is more vulnerable to change and interpretation than scientific 
	At this point someone is likely to mention counterexamples 
such as, "This fruit is an apple," or "Two plus two equals four." 
These are merely truths by definition, which are different from 
debatable statements such as, "An apple a day keeps the doctor 
away."  Mathematics consists of elaborate games in which we 
can make any rules we want.  For example, 11:00 plus two 
hours equals 1:00; eleven plus two equals one.          
	This is not merely a philosophical argument.  Truth is useful 
illusion when we need to count apples, but it can be a dangerous 
illusion when it is used as a weapon.  We use it to convince 
ourselves that we are right and that others are wrong.  
Sometimes the issue is trivial, as in arguments over the right 
way to mount a roll of toilet paper.  At other times the 
disagreement leads to international war.  In both cases the 
problems arise when both sides assume that they alone are right.  
These conflicts are perpetuated by the notion that there is an 
objective truth and that the erroneous side needs to change or be 
forced to change.  
	The purpose of this book is to suggest alternatives to a 
right/wrong view of the world.  The book starts with the 
individual and proceeds to interpersonal, familial, societal, and 
international relations.  The basis for international peace is the 
relation between individuals.  If two individuals cannot resolve 
their conflicts, how can they promote international peace, which 
is a much more complex problem? 
	This book does not advocate or condemn any political, 
economic, philosophical, or religious system.  One reason for 
writing this book is to reduce polarization between opposing 
groups, which blocks communication and wastes resources in 
perpetual conflicts between people.  The consequences of 
conflicts are more serious now than in the past because modern 
technology enables us to fight each other with devastating 
efficiency.  Yet we try to resolve these conflicts with primitive 
methods.  There must be a better way.  
	This is not a book of theory.  The challenge is to find 
practical ways of interacting that work for real people with all 
their imperfections rather than dreaming about a utopia 
composed of perfect people.  The final test is, "Does it work?"  I 
have tried the ideas in my own life and can answer:  Yes. 

Chapter 2

Good Guys vs. Bad Guys

	The concept of good and bad is pervasive in our culture, 
along with the often equivalent concept of right and wrong.  
These words are taught to us from infancy and reinforced with 
punishment and reward.  Children hear fairy tales of the 
destruction of evil stepmothers, witches, and wolves.  The 
dichotomy of good/bad is so familiar that we often don't realize 
that the distinction is artificial and arbitrary.  
	Movies and television are major contributors to our notions 
of good and bad.  The almost universal plot is:  bad guy does 
some evil deed; good guy destroys or punishes bad guy.  This 
plot is the core of countless westerns, war movies, and crime 
movies.  The hackneyed formula works by exciting our sense of 
outrage at the crime and then resolving the problem through 
justice and punishment.  We don't realize that our feelings are 
being manipulated because it is so easy to hate the villains.  
	The use of good/bad labels is common in our language.  We 
refer to rain as bad weather, although the same rain brings joy to 
farmers.  We have a good night's rest, have a bad day because 
the car runs badly, have a good supper, and watch a bad movie.  
An example of how our language reinforces our values is the way 
that words associated with light are positive, but words 
associated with darkness are negative:  enlighten, bright vs.  
denigrate, gloomy.  The good guy always rides a white horse.  A 
useful alternative concept can be borrowed from Buddhist 
cultures, which see equal benefit in apparent opposites: 
light/dark, rain/sunshine, life/death.  
	The popular concept of good/bad is useful to society; it 
promotes behavior that conforms to the norm.  But this concept 
is simplistic; life is too complex to fit into such neat categories.  
Every good thing has a bad aspect.  For example, automobiles 
provide transportation but pollute the air.  Real people don't fit 
the television stereotypes of completely good or completely bad 
people.  Another problem arises when we try to distinguish good 
from bad.  A person's definition of "good" depends on culture, 
family influences, religious background, education, and social 
class.  Universal agreement on what is good is impossible.  
	Morality based on religion formerly had much influence on 
social behavior.  Social upheavals during the 1960s significantly 
reduced the influence of religious morality and produced a revolt 
against authority, especially among young people.  The result 
has been a moral vacuum:  the old morality is rejected, but there 
is nothing to take its place.  Many people are advocating a return 
to morality based on religion, but this system offers no incentive 
to a non-religious person.  Why be honest if you can steal and 
not get caught?  The usual answer is that it is wrong to steal, and 
you will be punished severely if you are caught (or you will 
eventually be punished by God).  This answer is ineffective for a 
person who doesn't believe in God or the possibility of being 
	Although this book is written from a non-religious viewpoint, 
it is basically compatible with religious belief.  I have no quarrel 
with religion and hope that religion will fulfill its tremendous 
potential for enrichment of life.  Religion can provide 
meaningful answers to moral questions, but these are 
exceptional.  The usual answers are based on authority or belief, 
which are irrelevant to non-believers.  
	Regardless of the shortcomings of religious morality, it did 
serve a useful function.  Life would be chaotic without some 
system of values.  But agreement on religious morality is 
improbable, even among religious people.  So we are faced with 
the problem:  what is a suitable replacement for morality based 
on religion?   
	The approach of this book is to explore attitudes rather than 
hunt for better sets of rules.  Any set of rules is too rigid to cope 
with the diversity of the human species.  So we abandon the 
search for rules and accept diversity instead of trying to suppress 
it.  The problem changes from (1) How can we make people 
conform?  to (2) How can we make it possible for non-
conforming people to live peacefully together?  With the latter 
approach, we regard diversity as an asset, as fuel for creative art 
and science.  A diverse society is also more interesting than one 
composed of clones.  
	One could argue that allowing diversity inevitably leads to 
conflict, and that rules and force are needed to preserve order.  
But who will make the rules?  History is full of bloody conflicts 
over this question.  All the combatants believe that they are right, 
and the most powerful eventually impose their version of right 
on the others-- at least temporarily.  Trying to suppress diversity 
by force seems to require conflict.  
	Solving the problem of conflict requires more than a 
refinement of our sense of right and wrong.  Simply seeking 
truth will not suffice.  What is needed is a complete change in 
our perception of the world from a fragmented collection of 
conflicting elements to an integrated whole.  This new 
perception sees people as unique individuals, but recognizes that 
what benefits one benefits all others because there is no 
separation of welfare.  
	An integrated world view is far from obvious.  The world is 
full of people fighting each other, and some groups seem to be 
exploiting other groups.  Survival seems to require competitive 
strength and protection of one's own interests.  To make some 
sense out of this jungle requires a fresh look at the process of 
seeing.  The next chapter carefully examines our perceptions: 
how we learn to perceive, the relation of perceptions to reality, 
and how perceptions affect our actions.  

Chapter 3


		 How wondrous this, how mysterious!
		 I carry wood, I draw water.
		 Ho Koji

Believing is Seeing

	The efficiency of human visual perception was not fully 
apparent until scientists tried to duplicate its functions with 
computers.  They quickly found that computers had trouble 
distinguishing simple objects and were easily confused by 
irrelevant features.  The superiority of human vision over 
computers is due to perception:  visual information is filtered 
and modified to make sense in the context of experience.  
	Perception applies to all our physical senses.  It is also used 
to process abstractions, such as words and ideas.  Perception is 
extremely useful to us because it enables us to process complex 
information.  The same information would be hopelessly 
confusing to a computer, which may have good vision, but poor 
	Although perception is useful to us, it often causes us to 
reject valuable information.  For example, our sensitivity to the 
smell of leaking gas decreases with prolonged exposure.  We 
also reject information and ideas that seem irrelevant or "bad."  
We need to remind ourselves constantly that the world we see is 
created by our perceptions and that the real world may be quite 
different from the world inside our heads.  Believing often 
precedes seeing.  
	Sometimes perceptions do more than create reality inside our 
heads; they change the external reality.  The story of Don 
Quixote in Man of La Mancha illustrates this phenomenon.  
Don Quixote's romantic perception, combined with poor vision, 
caused him to see windmills as enemy giants.  He looked at a 
ragged prostitute and perceived a pure, noble lady. 
But strangely, the perception transformed the woman, who 
realized what she could be.  The same process often works in 
real life when people unconsciously conform to other people's 
perceptions of them.  Children are especially obliging in 
matching the perceptions of parents and teachers. 
	Perceptions are important because they are the framework of 
meaning that connects all the experiences of one's life.  
Otherwise life would be a confusing jumble of unrelated events.  
One can choose one of many possible perceptions of the world 
and make the world fit that perception.  For example, if one 
perceives the world as a dangerous place full of evil people, one 
can find ample support for that view in any newspaper.  Every 
reported crime and atrocity supports the perception, and 
anything contrary to the perception is rejected as exceptional.  
	Our perceptions strongly influence our behavior, and habitual 
behavior in turn reinforces these perceptions.  For example, the 
perception that spiders are repulsive may lead one to kill them.  
This distasteful task reinforces the perception.  We can easily 
become slaves to perceptions that work against us.  It is difficult 
to change habitual behavior, such as smoking, drinking, or 
overeating, when the perception that controls the behavior 
remains unchanged.  
	One hopeful aspect of perception is that it can change 
instantly, even after many years of entrenchment.  Examples of 
such change are found in religious conversion and in response to 
crisis.  When a boy partially paralyzed by polio first went to 
high school in a wheelchair, he hated the stares he received.  One 
day his perception changed: "I suddenly realized I had a choice.  
I could feel ugly, crippled, and helpless when the kids stared at 
me, or I could feel like a star.  I wanted to be the star!"

Chapter 4


		    Tasting awe, I am
		    kin to all that is.  Take.  Eat
		    in grateful wonder.
		    Marybeth Webster

An Integrated World

	Much of education deals with making distinctions.  We start 
with colors, numbers, and letters and later learn finer 
distinctions, such as differences between reptiles and mammals, 
between paintings by Raphael and Leonardo.  All this emphasis 
on dissecting the world and placing the parts into the proper 
pigeonholes obscures the whole and the interrelations between 
the parts.  
	Integration puts all the pieces of the world back together.  It 
is a difficult task, which requires a view of the whole without 
blurring any of the details.  It is like looking at the earth from 
space and seeing every tree in every forest.  Integration is a 
worthy challenge to the human mind, which can see atoms 
within galaxies.  
	An integrated view of the world requires a temporary 
suspension of our habit of focusing on differences.  The 
differences are all too apparent.  So we will require a bold leap 
of imagination to choose a perception of an integrated world.  
This perception does not separate the interests of one person 
from those of another, but it maintains the differences between 
individuals; each remains unique.  Using this perception, we 
seek ways of allowing these individuals to live freely together 
without conflict.  
	The integrated view is contrary to the prevalent world view 
that separates people into conflicting groups.  The first step in 
the solution of these conflicts is to quit making artificial 
distinctions that segregate people:  capitalists/socialists, 
liberals/conservatives, cops/robbers, right/wrong. 
These simplistic distinctions ignore both the uniqueness of each 
person placed in a group and the common humanity that defies 
grouping.  The result is like blurred tunnel vision.  The process 
of making group distinctions is the problem rather than merely 
making the "right" distinction or choosing the "right" side in a 
	The integrated world view is based on the interdependence of 
all human beings.  This would be more obvious for a "world" 
comprising two people stranded on an island.  Assuming that 
there are adequate resources for both, we can easily see that their 
interests are in common.  When we expand this interdependence 
to a world of over four billion people, the connections are not so 
	One aspect of interdependence that is not obvious is the 
interaction between a person and the object of the person's 
action.  In physics, Newton's second law states that every action 
has an equal and opposite reaction.  Imagine that you are in a 
small boat and try to push another boat away with your hand.  
Your boat will move backward in the process.  Similarly, there 
are really no unilateral actions by people on other people or even 
objects.  We are not fixed in place physically or emotionally.  
Because we are sensitive human beings rather than robots, we 
are affected by each of our actions, even if no one else is aware 
of the action.  For example, a person who embezzles money 
without being caught must live with constant fear, guilt, and self-
deception.  All our actions become part of us.  
	At this point the integrated world view is still idealistic and 
needs to be translated into practical solutions to real problems.  
How do we deal with criminals or people like Hitler?  What 
about inequity and greed?  These questions will be dealt with in 
later chapters.  But first we need to go from integration to 

Chapter 5

			       Done Too Soon
	Jesus Christ, Fanny Brice, Wolf A. Mozart,
	Humphrey Bogart, Ghenghis Khan, and on to H. G. 
	Ho Chi Minh, Gungha Din, Henry Lewis, and 
	John Wilkes Booth,
	Alexanders:  King and Graham Bell.
	Ramakrishna, Mama Whistler, Patrice Lumumba, and
	Russ Colombo,
	Karl and Chico Marx, Albert Camus.
	E. A. Poe, Henri Rousseau, Sholem Aleichem,
	Caryl Chessman, Alan Freed, and Buster Keaton too.
	And each one there has one thing to share.
	They have sweated beneath the same sun,
	looked up in wonder at the same moon,
	and wept when it was all done
	for being done too soon.
	For being done . . .
	Song by Neil Diamond


	An integrated view of the world leads us to accept ourselves 
and all others as members of the family of humanity.  This 
approach differs from the usual practice of judging people as 
good or bad and accepting or rejecting them.  The difference is 
that acceptance deals with people as they are rather than as they 
should be in comparison with some standard.  
	Acceptance is similar to the engineering concept of fault-
tolerance.  A fault-tolerant system is designed to cope with 
imperfection in itself and in its environment; it does not depend 
on perfection.  A leaf is an example of fault-tolerance.  If an 
insect destroys the central vein, the leaf continues to function by 
using secondary veins to bypass the problem.  If the leaf receives 
inadequate sunlight, it will grow toward the light.  The human 
body, with its marvelous capacity to compensate for adversity 
and abuse, is an excellent example of a fault-tolerant system.  
The automobile has evolved into a fairly fault-tolerant machine; 
it can withstand some problems such as dirt in the gasoline or 
brake failure.  Fault-tolerant engineering is a more reliable 
approach than attempts to build perfect machines and restrict 
them to ideal environments.  Similarly, acceptance does not 
require perfection in ourselves or others.  
	Acceptance is not blindness or blurring of one's vision, but 
rather a widening of perspective, which sees a person from many 
views.  It studies background and motivation, which lie beneath 
the surface behavior.  In contrast, rejection is usually based on a 
narrow view that focuses on some undesirable quality.  Rejection 
is often a reflex rather than a conscious choice. 
We tend to shun automatically people who have an irritating 
trait, such as body odor or talking too loudly.  But we need not 
judge and reject the whole person simply because of our 
inability to deal with some part of the person.  Acceptance 
allows us to see the whole person instead of being distracted by 
minor parts.  
	Acceptance does not exclude careful evaluation of people, 
such as political candidates, potential mates, and employees.  
The evaluation may lead one to conclude that the person is 
unsuitable, but the person is not rejected as "bad."   Acceptance 
is not naive optimism but a realistic approach that deals with all 
people, even those who don't match our expectations.  For 
example, a responsible parent may have to decide whether it is 
safe to let a teen-ager drive.  If the answer is no, the parent could 
discuss the reasons and suggest remedies, rather than reject the 
teen-ager as a "bad" driver.  
	Acceptance emphasizes the uniqueness of every person.  
Instead of dealing with stereotypes of people, we need to observe 
individual characteristics and adapt our relation to custom-fit the 
individual.  We can use our ingenuity to find ways of interacting 
that compensate for "negative" qualities, or even utilize them.  
For example, stubbornness is the same as perseverance from 
another perspective.  The adaptive aspect of acceptance is not the 
same as analyzing people in order to manipulate them.  
Manipulation seeks to exploit people solely for one's own 
benefit; acceptance seeks to benefit both parties.  
	Acceptance implies active efforts to improve situations rather 
than passive toleration and resignation.  Acceptance concentrates 
on control over one's own life rather than control over one's 
environment and other people.  For example, if you are visiting 
someone and the room is too cold, you can put on a jacket rather 
than turning up the thermostat or blaming your host.  Changing 
our environment may be appropriate at times, but it is only one 
of our options. When we blame circumstances for our problems, 
we are often stuck because we are powerless to change them, but 
we insist on getting our way because we are right.  Acceptance 
gets us out of this rut by allowing us to make choices rather than 
merely reacting to our environment, past and present.  The focus 
shifts from blaming to: "What can I do to solve the problem?"
	Assertiveness can be compatible with acceptance, but 
acceptance goes further by recognizing the needs of the other 
person.  An example of assertiveness with acceptance is, "I 
understand that this store's policy prohibits refunds, but I don't 
want to be stuck with this defective merchandise.  Is there 
anything you can do to help me?" This approach can be more 
effective than a rigid insistence on being right, and allows the 
other person to respond without feeling quashed.  
	People respond to acceptance because it satisfies two 
complementary human needs:  (1) to be part of the whole and  
(2) to be uniquely different from the whole.  Acceptance says, "I 
like you for what you are:  a unique person."  Rejection does the 
opposite:  it ostracizes people for being different from some 
norm.  The complementary needs satisfied by acceptance can be 
expressed as society/individual or as security/ freedom.  These 
complements are often placed in opposition, but satisfying both 
needs at the same time is usually possible.  For example, an 
individual can be recognized by society for unique contributions, 
while the individual acknowledges the support of the society.  
Freedom without security is useless, and security in a police 
state is a sad trade for freedom.  Acceptance gives a person both 
the security of society and the freedom of individuality.  
	Acceptance must be unconditional to be effective.  Otherwise 
it is merely an impersonal transaction in which "good" behavior 
is rewarded by approval and "bad" behavior by rejection.  A 
person subjected to this treatment quickly realizes that the 
behavior is valued rather than the person.  In contrast, a person 
treated with unconditional acceptance learns trust when "bad" 
behavior does not result in automatic rejection.  Unconditional 
acceptance provides continuity and strengthens relationships.  
	The hardest part of the concept of acceptance is that it applies
to all people:  your neighbor that tried to sue you, the thief that 
stole your stereo, rapists, child molesters, Hitler.  Unless you are 
willing to see these people as valid members of the human race, 
you have not yet accepted the concept.  Acceptance is a 
revolutionary change in attitude toward the world.  When you 
hate and reject anyone, your world is still a fragmented 
collection of good and bad people, and you cannot see people 
clearly.  When we focus on "bad" people as the problem, we are 
distracted from the root causes that produce the problem.  
Acceptance allows us to deal effectively with all people, even 
those who hate us, those who seek to exploit us, and those 
whose actions we despise.  
	An open attitude to all aspects of life is an additional benefit 
of acceptance.  When we accept other people, we naturally 
become open to new ideas, insights, sensations, and experiences.  
Then our perception of the world will change from a hostile 
environment to a harmonious one.  We will no longer feel 
alienated from people simply because they are different from us.  
Ordinary people will suddenly look beautiful, and even the 
meanest grouch will become interesting.  Then we will realize 
how much joy we have missed through rejection.

Chapter 6

			    Greyhound Bus 7515
			    No cold.
			    No stifling heat.
			    Wrapped in a steel shell
			    we move through life
			    feeling nothing.

			    Takashi Yogi              

Accepting Ourselves

	Accepting ourselves should really precede trying to accept 
others, but it is much harder.  Harder because our perceptions of 
ourselves seem so real.  Who else knows as much about me as 
myself?  But these perceptions of ourselves are as fallible as our 
perceptions of the world.  We accumulate these perceptions in 
response or reaction to parents, teachers, spouses, and associates 
until we are unable to see ourselves clearly.  
	The major benefit of accepting others is acceptance of 
ourselves.  We tend to view ourselves as critically as we view 
others, or more critically, since we can't easily hide "faults" 
from ourselves.  Habitual criticism of ourselves destroys our 
sense of self-worth.  Insecurity of self prompts constant 
comparisons of ourselves with others in attempts to prove our 
worth.  Acceptance of ourselves relieves us of this burden; we do 
not have to be perfect or better than others.  
	As with acceptance of others, acceptance of ourselves does 
not mean passivity, resignation, or illusions about our 
capabilities.  Accepting ourselves means dealing with our 
limitations without labeling them "bad."  We can devise ways to 
bypass these limitations without trying to be perfect.  For 
example, we can deal with impatience by changing situations 
that provoke impatience rather than simply trying to be patient.  
	Accepting ourselves acknowledges responsibility for our lives 
and keeps us from the trap of blaming circumstances and other 
people for our problems.  It also gives us more options since our 
happiness does not depend on changes in circumstances and in 
other people.  Notice the difference in the following statements: 
Resignation:  "I'm miserable but I can't do anything about it 
since he is to blame." Acceptance:  "I don't like this situation 
and will do what I can to improve things for all who are 
	Accepting oneself is a prerequisite for coping with 
the external world.  It gives one a sense of personal center, which 
is unperturbed by external turmoil.  This stability comes not 
from rigidity or insulation from adversity, but from flexibility: 
the ability to adapt to one's environment without losing 
equilibrium.  Flexibility comes from a sense of our uniqueness 
and self-worth that is not based on perfection, but on being 
human.  The resulting inner peace cannot be destroyed by insults 
or stolen from us.  We can create this peace for ourselves, within 
ourselves, whenever we choose, regardless of external 
circumstances.  We can use this inner peace to transform the 

Chapter 7

Enlightened Self-interest

	The basic concepts of integration and acceptance have been 
covered in the preceding section.  Now comes the hard task of 
finding practical replacements for the traditional methods of 
making decisions.  If we reject rigid rules of conduct, we need to 
use our new freedom responsibly.  
	How does one decide moral issues without a fixed set of rules 
that define "right and wrong"? The answer is a pragmatic one: 
does it work?  Will your decision give you what you want?  The 
crucial question is: what do you really want?  Do you want the 
million dollars or do you really want the happiness and security 
that it promises? 
	Enlightened self-interest is needed to make decisions that 
truly benefit ourselves.  This goes far beyond mere selfishness, 
which is usually self-destructive.  Enlightenment means 
awareness of the unity of all people and objects.  It shows that 
harming others to benefit oneself is an illusion.  Enlightenment 
is an expansion of our view to encompass ourselves, others, 
society, the world, the present, and the future.  
	Enlightenment does not come easily.  It requires education, 
experience, and a willingness to study all the effects of a 
decision.  We are not born with enlightenment; an infant's vision 
includes only self and the present.  A child may want to eat only 
sweets for lack of awareness of the effects on nutrition and 
dental health.  Experience is often a poor teacher because the 
effects of a decision may be irreversible when the lesson is 
finally learned.   We can use education to learn from the 
experience of others and to avoid dead-end paths. 
	Many of our actions that are intended to exploit other people 
actually harm us most.  For example, lying is dangerous for the 
liar because the liar may start believing the lies.  The 
rationalization needed to accommodate the lies distorts 
perception; the ability to separate illusion from reality suffers.  
For example, a person hiding an extramarital affair may fool 
herself into thinking that no one is hurt by the deception.  She 
may thereby continue a compromised life instead of taking 
action to improve the situation.  Notice that lying is not labeled 
"wrong."  Sometimes lying may be the best decision, for 
example, to save another person's life.  
	It may seem that we are back where we started.  Lying is 
prohibited by the Ten Commandments, one of the "rigid rules."  
The crucial difference is that with enlightenment the incentive 
for behavior comes from the individual, not authority, belief, or 
fear of punishment.  In the Bible, this is the difference between 
living under the law and living in grace.  The behavior may be 
the same for both external rules and internal choice, but the 
attitudes are completely different.  
	Enlightenment allows us to bypass a problem: the lack of 
agreement on truth.  Disagreements need not produce conflict if 
at least one of the people that disagree realizes that there may be 
more that one version of truth and that they can coexist.  In the 
Japanese language, "You're wrong" translates into "It differs".  
Conflict arises from our perception that disagreement must 
produce winners and losers, or sometimes, compromises where 
both parties are partial losers.  An alternative to conflict is to 
allow diversity in individual versions of truth, but to remind 
ourselves constantly that using our freedom to hurt others also 
hurts ourselves.

Chapter 8

				 Richard Cory
		     Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
		     We people on the pavement looked at him:
		     He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
		     Clean favored, and imperially slim.
		     And he was always quietly arrayed,
		     And he was always human when he talked;
		     But still he fluttered pulses when he said,                                         
		     "Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.              
		     And he was rich-- yes, richer than a king--
		     And admirably schooled in every grace:
		     In fine, we thought that he was everything
		     To make us wish that we were in his place.
		     So on we worked, and waited for the light,
		     And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
		     And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
		     Went home and put a bullet through his head.
		     Edwin A. Robinson

The Illusion of Selfishness / Unselfishness

	Selfishness really does not exist.  It is only an abstraction, 
given apparent substance by the magic of language.  Attempts to 
produce selfish acts are doomed to eventual failure because the 
world is one entity, and attempts to subdivide this unity are 
futile.  There are many who seem to have succeeded in being 
selfish by amassing great wealth and power.  One such person 
was the first emperor of China, Ch'in Shih Huang Ti, who could 
afford to engage 700,000 workers for 36 years to build his tomb.  
He was so insecure that he changed sleeping quarters every night 
for fear of assassination.  There are many other examples of 
frustrated attempts at selfishness, from King David to Howard 
Hughes.  Wealth and power failed to provide happiness and 
	Attempts at selfishness are not reserved for the rich and 
powerful.  Wealth is relative.  What is more important than the 
level of wealth is one's attitude toward other people.  
Unfortunately the acquisition of extraordinary wealth or power 
tends to produce an attitude that justifies the disparity between 
groups.  A person at the top tends to forget that the support of 
many people make that position possible.  It is easy to inflate 
one's own value based on social class and lose sight of the basic 
interdependence of people.  
	Unselfishness is as much an illusion as selfishness.  It 
supports the notion that one can sacrifice one's own interests 
solely for the benefit of others.  What is overlooked is the 
intangible reward that a person receives for an act that benefits 
others.  Personal satisfaction is worth the price of pain and 
poverty.  Even the ultimate gift of one's own life is not given 
grudgingly; it must have its own special motivation.  
	Many gifts packaged as unselfish acts are attempts to keep 
people separated.  Philanthropy and charity are often used to 
appease exploited people.  The intent is to keep them dependent 
on the donors and therefore powerless.  But their discontent 
usually leads to eventual revolt.  No one benefits from attempts 
to hoard resources.  
	There are many people who think they are being unselfish 
when they allow others to mistreat them.  The advice columns 
are full of martyrs complaining about their miserable treatment 
from relatives and friends.  They have valid cases, but they trap 
themselves into thinking that they are helpless victims.  Perhaps 
they continue being martyrs for fear of being rejected if they 
were to be firm with their oppressors.  
	How does one determine the limits of generosity and 
accommodation?  One's own needs have to be filled before one 
is able to give to others.  For example if a person neglects her 
health, she will eventually be helpless rather than helpful.  If one 
neglects one's own needs, the help given to others is likely to be 
tainted with resentment.  If one cannot give freely and joyfully, 
one probably is not able to give.  
	Both selfishness and unselfishness are attempts to ignore the 
interdependence of people.  People cannot be isolated by mental 
or physical walls.  We can neither steal from others without 
hurting ourselves nor give to others without benefiting ourselves.

Chapter 9

		      Driven by the winds of life past
		      I chose not where I sailed
		      Often cast on rocky shores
			   or becalmed in mid-ocean
		      Cursing those who set my course.
		      But now I will steer my own destiny
		      Tacking against the wind
			   or running before it
		      Secure in raging tempest or calm
		      I dance with wind and waves.
		      Takashi Yogi          


	Expressing anger was quite popular as a therapeutic method a 
few years ago.  People were pounding pillows, beating each 
other with soft bats, and screaming to ventilate hostility.  Free 
verbalization of anger was encouraged, and repression was 
regarded as unhealthy, like a capped teakettle on the verge of 
explosion.  The sanction of anger by some therapists increased 
the social acceptability of expressing anger, especially anger 
prompted by injustice.  
	We are constantly subjected to actions that provoke anger; 
life is full of thorns-- careless drivers, shoddy merchandise, late 
trains.  There is no shortage of ignorance and arrogance.  But do 
we want to respond to every provocation with anger?  Anger may 
be fully justified, but it can be an option rather than an 
automatic reflex.  By constantly exercising our freedom to get 
angry, we ironically become slaves of our environment.  
	Anger appears in several forms.  A common one is "righteous 
indignation."  We feel that we are right and the other person is 
wrong.  Another form of anger comes from a feeling of 
powerlessness, a perception that we have no control over an 
uncomfortable situation.  Anger often results from a 
misconnection between stimulus and reaction:  "She makes me 
angry," rather than, "I allow myself to get angry over what she 
	Prevention is an alternative to anger.  Choosing not to get 
angry is quite different from ignoring or suppressing anger once 
it arises.  Understanding the other person is an effective 
preventive measure:  Why do people do what they do?  What are 
their backgrounds?  Are they aware of what they are doing?  I 
have found that many people stumble through life like a rock 
crashing down a hill; it is more useful to get out of their way 
than to curse them.  
	Another preventive measure is to focus on solutions rather 
than on blame.  For example, when we encounter a careless 
driver who cuts in, we can often change lanes rather than honk 
and curse.  Powerlessness is replaced by personal action:  What 
can I do to compensate or to solve the problem?  Even when we 
can do nothing, we can keep the annoyance from ruining our 
	Another way to prevent anger is to develop a sense of our 
uniqueness and our relation to the world.  We tend to focus so 
closely on our own lives that we lose our perspective of the 
whole.  A wider perspective in both time and space would 
prevent distraction by adversity.  A secure feeling of our own 
self-worth as members of the human family would make us less 
vulnerable to insults.  A sense of humor can help one cope with 
many minor injustices.  Life is too short to spend much time 
getting angry because someone left the cap off the toothpaste.  
	Anger is often prolonged by a desire for revenge, which 
persists long after the injury and quietly poisons one's life.  Acts 
of revenge don't dissipate the anger; they usually result in 
escalation by the other party or in feelings of hollow victory.  
	Many people see forgiveness as an antidote to the problem of 
anger and revenge.  Forgiveness often works, but it is a poor 
alternative to acceptance.  When forgiveness requires apology or 
restitution and the other person refuses, we are stymied.  
Forgiveness maintains the concepts of right and wrong; it is 
basically an act of condescension rather than of understanding.  
Forgiveness is difficult because we are asked to erase what we 
consider wrong.  How can we forgive an atrocity?  Acceptance 
bypasses anger, revenge, and forgiveness and allows us to focus 
on recovering from the injury rather than on the misdeeds of the 
other person.  When we discard the concept of "wrong," there is 
no need for forgiveness.  
	There is nothing "wrong" with anger; it is a natural human 
emotion.  Anger can be useful as a signal that calls our attention 
to problems and can be a catalyst for need changes.  The danger 
is that we allow anger to control our lives and steal our 
emotional and physical energy.  Life is too precious to squander 
on anger.

Chapter 10

Tools for Living

	It is possible to turn a screw with a knife and to cut wood 
with a screwdriver, but it is much more efficient to use the 
proper tool.  Neither tool is "bad," nor is the misapplication 
"wrong." There may be times when the best tool for a job is not 
available, and a substitute has to be used.  
	We can choose our tools for living.  All behavior has some 
utility.  Getting angry, excessive drinking, overeating, lying, 
withdrawing, being depressed, and being stubborn all satisfy 
some need.  But many times the need can be satisfied by using 
some other behavior that has fewer undesirable side effects.  For 
example, a person may lie to shield a fragile ego from 
embarrassment.  A sounder approach might be to use acceptance 
to improve one's self-image so that one is less vulnerable.  
	Understanding the motivation behind behavior is useful in 
personal relations.  Demands for change of "bad" behavior are 
usually ineffective since the behavior obviously satisfies some 
need.  A demand usually produces a defensive reaction which 
makes change unlikely.  Trying to force change in another 
person is usually a waste of effort.  Even when force seems to 
work, it produces resentment and sometimes sabotage.  
Unconditional acceptance is more effective than force because it 
is non-threatening and is the best environment for growth and 
change.  If the other person does not change, an attitude of 
acceptance will often suggest ways to bypass the problem 
without condemning the other person.  
	Many people live in reaction to their environment instead of 
choosing the direction of their lives.  They are happy only when 
conditions are comfortable, angry when they are mistreated, and 
depressed by the emptiness of their lives.  These people should 
not be faulted; they learn to accept these conditions through 
years of attempted control by parents, teachers, employers, and 
perhaps a spouse or two.  Others are trapped by poverty, 
exploitation, poor education, or addictions.  Constant reaction 
against external forces absorbs all the attention; independence 
never develops.  We are all in this predicament to some extent; 
our choices are never completely free.  Those that are blessed 
with the resources to make choices are responsible for improving 
the lives of those who have few choices.  The most important 
choice is whether to blame ourselves, others, and our past for our 
problems, or to accept responsibility for the quality of our lives 
and the lives of other people. 

Chapter 11
			    What can I do
			    What can I do
			    Much of what you say is true
			    I know you see through me
			    But there's no tenderness
			    Beneath your honesty
			    Right and wrong
			    Right and wrong
			    Never helped us get along
			    You say you care for me
			    But there's no tenderness
			    Beneath your honesty
			    You and me were such good friends
			    What's your hurry?
			    You and me could make amends
			    I'm not worried
			    I'm not worried
			    It's such a waste of energy
			    No you don't have to lie to me
			    Just give me some tenderness
			    Beneath your honesty
			    You don't have to lie to me
			    Just give me some tenderness
			    Song by Paul Simon              


	Much of the problem with marriage is due to excessive 
idealism.  Couples strive toward an ideal that is almost 
impossible to attain.  This romantic ideal is based on several 
myths.  One is compatibility:  the ideal mate is similar to 
oneself.  The reality is that opposite personalities are quite 
attractive, and compatibility is not essential.  Many marriages of 
vastly dissimilar people succeed, and marriages fail between 
people who read the same books, share the same hobbies, and 
agree on politics and religion.  People use computers to find 
their ideal mate and are puzzled by the divorce a year later.  
	Another myth is that a successful marriage requires doing the 
right things, such as being neat, considerate, helpful, cheerful 
and dependable.  A rare marriage may consist of such a pair of 
angels, but earthly marriages are much more likely to succeed 
when both people acknowledge that they are not perfect and are 
willing to make allowances.  
	"Happily ever after" describes another myth.  It offers the 
false hope that marriage will make us complete and provide 
continuous happiness without disagreement.  Marriage usually 
magnifies individual problems, and intimacy provides abundant 
opportunities for disagreement.  
	Total unconditional acceptance is the first step in a marriage.  
This precludes any demands for changes and recognizes the 
unique value of a person.  Acceptance means accepting the real 
person, not some idealization.  Acceptance is unconditional and 
continuous; it does not depend on the behavior of the other 
person, nor is it suspended in times of conflict.  This acceptance 
is the string of continuity that holds a relation together through 
rough times.  It is also the perfect environment for growth.  
People are perverse-- they resist change when it is demanded 
but often change voluntarily when there is no coercion.  
	Unconditional acceptance is not the same as unconditional 
surrender, the sacrifice of oneself for the sake of harmony.  
Acceptance recognizes the needs of both persons in a 
relationship.  The separation or opposition of interests is 
artificial; mutually satisfactory solutions can usually be found.  
For example, when creative chaos conflicts with compulsive 
neatness, a private room may be a solution.  
	Dissatisfaction with a marriage is often felt by only one 
person.  The other may be preoccupied with work and may not 
notice the problem until confronted with an affair or a demand 
for a divorce.  Dealing with these cases is difficult because of the 
resistance of the spouse, who feels threatened by the changes.  
The resistance is only increased by demands such as "You are 
wrong and need to change," or  "Get counseling or I will leave 
you."  Even if counseling is accepted, the resisting person is 
likely to remain defensive.  A more effective message might be, 
"I think you are wonderful, and I would like to stay with you.  
We can work out our problems together to make life better for 
both of us."
	Acceptance can work in a relation even when only one person 
practices it.  This distinguishes it from other methods of conflict 
resolution, such as compromise, which require the cooperation 
of both parties.  Many marriages are stalemated by the stubborn 
refusal of one person to negotiate and the equally stubborn 
demand of the other that negotiation is necessary.  When 
acceptance is used by even one person in a relation, it breaks the 
cycle of action-reaction fighting.  This cycle feeds on blame, 
punishment, and revenge; acceptance shifts attention from these 
to ways of satisfying the needs of both parties.  One person can 
initiate change by finding ways to satisfy one's own needs 
without blaming or threatening the other.  For example, a woman 
oppressed by housework can hire help rather than insisting that 
her spouse share the burden.    
	Acceptance will not save some marriages.  Divorce may be 
the best answer for both, and acceptance can ease the difficult 
transition.  Forgoing blame and recognizing each other's welfare 
can benefit both parties.  Bickering over possessions is costly; 
the person who wins pays the heavy price of continued bitterness 
from the other.  Fights over custody of children usually harm 
them more than any inequities of custody.  Punishment and 
revenge hurt both parties.  Acceptance and integration of 
interests promotes healing of the wounds.  
	I see some problems with present marital counseling.  Much 
of the emphasis is on changing behavior rather than attitudes.  
Techniques such as fighting fairly, expressing anger, and 
communicating needs are useful, but they don't satisfy the basic 
need for acceptance.  They deal with the mechanics of a relation, 
but leave the old concepts of right and wrong unchanged.  
Couples learn that there is a right way and a wrong way to fight.  
Fighting fairly is comparable to the Geneva Convention for the 
humane conduct of war.  Both are preferable to barbarity, but 
abolishing the conflict would be much better.  
	Communication is important but can be misused to convey 
only negative information.  The messages are received as bad 
news:  more problems that demand attention.  The recent 
emphasis on free expression of our needs overlooks the 
reception of the message.  Unless the expressions are 
accompanied by assurances of acceptance and non-coercion, 
they will probably be resisted or ignored.  Another problem with 
our communications is the lack of affection and appreciation 
when the situation is normal; all messages are alarms.  Mis-
communication can destroy a marriage as surely as non-
	Many marital conflicts are symptoms of deeper problems.  
Lack of empathy, recognition, autonomy, or affection can 
become manifest as perennial fights over money, chores, or 
trivia.  An attitude of acceptance can help us to focus on the 
needs of the person instead of the surface complaints.  For 
example, the complaint, "You spent too much for groceries" may 
be a symptom of insecurity about one's job.  An attitude of 
acceptance allows one to respond to the real needs instead of 
defending or blaming oneself.  
	The resolution of conflicts is impeded by the concept of 
winners and losers.  This view keeps the combatants from 
working together toward solutions that benefit both.  There are 
usually more than two solutions to a problem, but the mutually 
beneficial solutions are obscured by a stubborn insistence on 
being right.  Being right is a lonely place.  We isolate ourselves 
by using truth to build walls around ourselves, and we use truth 
as a weapon to attack vulnerable spots.  The typical marital fight 
is an escalating exchange of insults that possess enough truth to 
be devastating.  Both sides are losers in the war.  
	An alternative to marital conflict is to merge the welfare of 
both parties and to realize that what benefits one also benefits 
the other.  This does not mean joint checking accounts or 
merging of personalities.  Autonomy and uniqueness are to be 
cultivated.  Both individuality and cooperation can flourish in an 
environment of acceptance.

Chapter 12


	Children are born self-centered; they are aware of only their 
needs.  Infancy should provide security and total acceptance.  
This forms a solid basis for later social development.  As 
children mature, they will become aware that their needs interact 
with the needs of other people.  Sometimes these needs will 
seem to conflict, as when two children want the same toy.  They 
need to learn that there is no separation between their welfare 
and that of others.  
	Relations between adults and children are often hampered by 
the assumed authority of adults over children.  When a conflict 
arises, the adult asserts authority, often overriding even a valid 
case presented by the child.  There are certainly many cases 
where this resort to authority is necessary, but there is also the 
danger of misusing authority when more effective methods are 
available.  Unfortunately many parents are so certain of being 
right that they persist in using methods that obviously don't 
work, and they blame the failure on the child.  Unlike other 
oppressed groups, children usually lack control over their 
treatment.  They resort to fighting back in subtle ways to 
sabotage the lives of their parents.  Sometimes they wait until 
adolescence to revolt.  Sometimes their resentment toward 
parents is transferred to society and persists throughout adult 
	Children need acceptance as much as food in order to mature.  
The family should always be a refuge where a child has a sense 
of belonging.  Rejection of children for misbehavior destroys 
this security and is a poor motivation for changing behavior.  
Acceptance does not imply permissiveness.  Children need to be 
taught that their actions affect others and that manipulative 
tactics such as tantrums will not get them what they want.  
	Maturation is the process of moving from external control to 
internal.  If rules are always imposed on children by force, they 
will be poorly equipped to make the transition to independence.  
Children will be more likely to obey the rules if they participate 
in making the rules and understand the reasons for the rules.  
When rules are disobeyed, children should learn how they harm 
themselves by their actions.  Children need to learn to accept 
responsibility for their lives and to choose their actions to 
benefit themselves and others.

Chapter 13

			 Just once more
			 Just one more nickel
			 Pull the crank
			    and listen for
			    the sweet clatter of coins.
			    only the faint echo of the good times
			    when life overflowed.
			 Why complain?
			    I still get enough to keep playing.
			    Someday I'll get it.
			 Do I really believe that?  No.
			    I should quit this stupid game.
			 One more nickel and I'll leave.
			 Takashi Yogi

The Transition to Acceptance

	Making the transition from judgment to acceptance is 
difficult because it requires a total change in one's attitude 
rather than minor changes in behavior.  The whole framework of 
one's life needs to be rebuilt rather than merely patched.  A lot 
of our training, education, and experience must be discarded in 
the process.  
	On the other hand, the transition can be easy because the 
change in attitude affects all of our behavior.  One does not have 
to try to change; change occurs naturally once one perceives the 
benefit of the change.  The following are suggestions for easing 
the transition: 

1.  Notice instances when you judge yourself, other people, or 
things.  Don't label yourself "bad" for judging or try to stop 
doing it.  Become sensitive to the following words: good, bad, 
right, and wrong.  Notice how often these words are used in 
ordinary conversation.  

2.  Practice observing other people who don't affect your life 
directly, such as strangers on the bus or people in supermarkets.  
Take special note if these people are angry or if they seem 
repulsive to you.  Try to explain a person's behavior by 
fantasizing the person's history, such as an abused childhood, 
poor education, illness, or a recent divorce.  

3.  Study other cultures to expand your awareness of the 
diversity of "normal" behavior.  

4.  Learn unconditional acceptance from a pet animal.

Chapter 14


	I sense widespread discontent in the United States, which 
encompasses all groups:  rich and poor, conservative and liberal, 
minorities and majorities.  The banker worries that Brazil will 
default on its huge debt, while the Detroit autoworker wonders 
how she will feed her family when the unemployment checks 
stop coming.  Pessimism prevails; the popular sense is that 
social conditions are getting worse.  Some discontent and 
dissent is healthy, but there is a danger that dissatisfied people 
will react by blaming scapegoats and following any leader who 
promises relief.  
	Social discontent spawns many proposals for remedies and 
usually produces polarization of opposing groups.  Each group 
claims that their views are right, and defeating the opposition 
becomes the goal.  Even when the fighting is not physical, there 
is much use of heavy verbal artillery in political speeches, the 
press, and the courts.  
	Perhaps these conflicts indicate a vigorous democracy, but I 
wonder how much of it is necessary.  We spend a great deal of 
energy fighting perpetual battles.  These ideological battles often 
become violent, as in union/management and pro-life/pro-choice 
confrontations.  Political warfare has some disturbing 
similarities to actual warfare:  the labeling and depersonalization 
of the "enemy," the concepts of right-side/wrong-side and of 
winners/losers, and the reduction of issues to slogans.  
	Conflicts keep us from using a valuable resource:  group 
action.  The power of people working together is one of the 
strongest forces in the world.  People have an inherent need to 
be part of a group and can contribute prodigious effort.  After a 
severe winter storm in Santa Cruz in 1982, there was an amazing 
amount of volunteer relief work.  One man who helped dig mud 
out of a house remarked that the work was too nasty and hard to 
do for pay.  The reward for such action must be social.  
	Unfortunately, politicians and dictators know the power of 
group action and exploit it for their own purposes.  I remember 
the awesome film records of Hitler being saluted by hundreds of 
thousands of ecstatic Germans, and I'm saddened by the waste of 
such tremendous energy.  If we could direct such energy away 
from war and political conflict, we would have ample resources 
for solving most of the world's problems.  
	This section of the book deals with some social problems in 
America as illustrations of an integrated view.  Attempts are 
made to view issues from many sides.  The aim is not answers, 
but meaningful questions:  Is this really what you want? My 
view of issues is certain to be limited and biased, and I'm likely 
to be criticized by all sides.  My goal is to widen the perspective 
and start dialogue between groups rather than search for the 
"right" answers.

Chapter 15

The Limits of Political Power

	I always feel uncomfortable with political rallies and 
speeches, especially when I agree with the views expressed.  
Most politicians love such occasions_ the receptive audience, 
the frequent bursts of applause.  But I usually leave with a sense 
of loneliness rather than unity.  What bothers me is the use of 
political power to win, the division of people into the forces of 
good and the forces of evil.  
	Political action is an important part of a democracy, but I feel 
that it is seen by many people as a weapon.  Political differences 
become power struggles in which the majority imposes its views 
on the minority.  Democracy, government by the people, often 
degenerates into government by the majority, and the wishes of 
half the people might be ignored.  The majority's best interests 
are served by being sensitive to the needs of the minority and 
trying to accommodate them.  More use of consensus instead of 
majority rule can provide more equal representation for all 
people.  Otherwise, ignoring minority protests often leads to 
power struggles in which the balance of power oscillates.  An 
example of perpetual power struggle is the abortion issue.  
Abortion in America was largely unregulated until legislation in 
the 1870s banned it.  Then the Supreme Court legalized abortion 
in 1973.  Now there is considerable effort to reverse the law.  
	Another problem with power politics is the tendency to focus 
on scapegoats.  People such as Ronald Reagan or Jane Fonda are 
used as political dartboards, targets for our anger.  Scapegoats 
divert our attention from the underlying causes of conflict.  
Assassination, political or physical, does not produce significant 
change, since the people behind the leader remain unchanged or 
become more determined to fight back.  Blaming problems on 
other people is not very effective and obscures our responsibility 
as citizens.  
	Political divisions are perpetuated by emphasizing 
differences between groups.  People are separated into opposing 
groups, and any common interests are ignored.  The other side is 
considered ignorant, misguided, or evil because they disagree 
with us.  Racial conflicts are especially serious because it is so 
easy to focus on the trivial physical differences and ignore our 
common humanity.  
	The division of people into conservative and liberal groups is 
one of the most prominent divisions in American politics.  But 
the concept of monolithic groups is a myth.  One can compile 
lists of views held by most people who would call themselves 
conservatives or liberals.  But there are too many exceptions: 
people who support the ERA and nuclear disarmament but 
oppose abortion, people who favor prayer in schools but want to 
ban handguns.  Therefore the words " liberal"  and " 
conservative"  do not define clearly distinct groups, and these 
labels need not keep people from talking to each other.  
	Political change can be facilitated by an integrated approach.  
Political movements typically produce automatic reaction 
groups, but these people are less likely to fight if their interests 
are considered.  Instead of using brute political power to 
overwhelm the opposition, it would be more effective to find 
ways to satisfy all parties.  For example, legislation to end 
government subsidies for tobacco could include aid for farmers 
to facilitate a transition to other crops.  
	There will always be disagreement on what is best for society, 
but this need not keep people from accepting each other and 
working on mutually beneficial solutions.  I would like to see 
more acceptance of political diversity as a normal condition and 
as one of the great  strengths of a democracy.  Lack of diversity 
can result in mass political power, which is easily abused.  An 
example is Mao Zedong's Great Cultural Revolution, which had 
millions of ecstatic followers waving his little red book.  Such 
unity has a tremendous potential for destructive action with no 
counterbalancing forces.  Unity is beneficial when it affirms the 
common humanity of a diverse group; it can be destructive when 
it is used to suppress diversity.  
	The use of political power is an extension of our attitude 
toward interpersonal conflict.  When we are disturbed by a 
neighbor's dog, we resort to calling the police instead of 
negotiating a solution.  We win, but we lose a neighbor.  
Similarly, we often use political power as a substitute for open 
communication and negotiation.  
	People seldom change their views in response to logical 
arguments.  The investment in personal beliefs is too great; 
attack provokes defense and counterattack.  Winning a debate 
does not imply change in an opponent.  An alternative is to avoid 
the defensive reaction by using acceptance.  When people are not 
threatened, when their views are respected and given a fair 
hearing, change becomes possible.  The process of changing 
beliefs is more emotional than logical.  Political power and 
compelling arguments cannot substitute for personal acceptance.  
	I don't intend to disparage the efforts of political activists 
who are dedicated to improving social conditions.  I hope to 
prompt them to examine attitudes that may be obscuring more 
effective methods of producing change.  The prevalent methods 
of fighting political battles produce few lasting victories; the 
vanquished minority usually returns to fight.  I would like to see 
political opponents accept each other as valuable counter-
balancing influences rather than as enemies.  You can't play 
tennis with an empty opposite court.  There is need for more 
non-debates in which issues are discussed without a need for 
winning arguments.  It is the need to win that keeps us all losers.

Chapter 16

Labels and Discrimination

	Labels are convenient and useful, but easily misused.  They 
are useful because a word or two can refer to a complex mental 
image of an object, idea, or person.  This process is so automatic 
that it can be a hindrance.  Labels can be misused to keep us 
from actually seeing an object or person.  For example we can 
stop seeing birds or flowers once we have learned to identify 
them by name.  We see a mental image of a rufous-sided towhee 
instead of the bird itself.  
	Labels are an important part of the process of perception.  
Perception takes raw sensory information and filters it to make 
sense in the context of experience.  Labels are used to catalog 
these perceptions, and can substitute for the perceptions.  For 
example, seeing the word "maggots" can produce instant 
revulsion for most people.  Even when one is actually looking at 
maggots, the label takes precedence and blocks the perception.  
	Labels become dangerous when we use them to avoid seeing 
and feeling.  Labels such as nigger, gook, queer, bitch, pig, and 
redneck are used to avoid dealing with people.  Even more 
civilized labels such as conservative, Communist, and feminist 
can be used in the same way.  When people are labeled, they 
become stereotyped objects.  
	Labels play an important part in racial discrimination.  
Physical racial characteristics are used as the sole basis for 
attaching a label with its stereotypes.  The label replaces the 
unique person, and it is much easier to mistreat interchangeable 
objects; if you've seen one, you've seen them all.  
Discrimination uses labels to avoid looking at any features that 
reveal a common humanity.  
	Labeling is often the first step to violence toward people.  
One horrible example is the Nazi extermination of Jews and 
other minority groups.  I find the Holocaust frightening because 
it shows how easy it is to kill people who have become objects.  
It is important to realize how a small shift in perception can 
result in atrocities.  The prologue to the Holocaust was centuries 
of persecution of Jews by Christians.  For example, St. John 
Chrysostom in the fourth century preached that "The synagogue 
is worse than a brothel... it is the den of scoundrels and the 
repair of wild beasts."*  Similar prejudice was promoted by 
countless Christian clerics.  As a result, people became 
accustomed to the labeling of Jews as subhuman and deserving 
of their treatment.  Once Jews became labeled as vermin, the 
plague of Europe, it was easy to exterminate them as one would 
kill rats-- an unpleasant but necessary task.  The Nazis were not 
monsters; they went home to wives and children.  If the 
experience of the Holocaust only teaches us that Germans can be 
especially cruel, then the lesson that cost six million lives is 
wasted:  that all of us have similar potential for inhuman action 
toward people whose humanity is hidden by labels.  

*Malcom Hay,  Europe and the Jews, Beacon Press

Chapter 17

Crime, Punishment, and Justice for All

	An all too familiar story:  A car driven by a drunk collides 
with another car.  A innocent woman is killed and her child is 
paralyzed for life.  Her husband survives, and the drunk has only 
minor injuries.  How does one deal with this tragedy and with 
the feelings of anger that result?  The victims are often dismayed 
when the guilty party gets less than the maximum punishment.  
How much punishment will satisfy the need for justice?  Life 
imprisonment?  Torture?  Death?  
	Our concept of justice is often a disguise for legalized 
revenge.  There is a prevalent feeling that those who cause 
suffering should be made to suffer some form of punishment.  In 
former times, torture and mutilation were often used.  We no 
longer approve of such barbarity, but the feeling remains.  
People often object to attempts to rehabilitate criminals through 
programs such as job training because such programs might 
benefit the subjects rather than increase their suffering.  Why 
should people who do wrong be treated well? 
	Revenge does not heal the wounds of tragedy; it merely 
exhausts the victim's use of the guilty party as an object of 
blame and anger.  What if a person is severely crippled by an 
earthquake while hiking in the mountains?  There is clearly no 
one to blame except perhaps God, the Devil, or oneself.  It is 
more useful to concentrate on recovery rather than anger and 
blame.  The same is true for injury caused by crime.  Even after a 
person's need for revenge is satisfied, there is still the need to 
cope with healing the wound itself.  So revenge is merely a 
distraction that slows the healing process.  
	Most of the need for revenge stems from the need of the 
victims for recognition that their anger is legitimate.  So the 
punishment is really symbolic since there is usually no 
possibility of full restitution or "eye for an eye" type of justice.  
Victims are often satisfied when the punishment is the maximum 
possible under the law.  Justice is a lofty ideal that is seldom 
achieved.  There are millions of innocent victims of crime, war, 
genocide, and persecution.  How does one find appropriate 
justice for the deaths of six million Jews?  Preventing a 
repetition of the crime by correcting its causes is more 
appropriate than seeking justice after the crime.  
	Our efforts to control crime seem to rely on punishment, 
which is supposed to correct antisocial behavior in the convict 
and deter others.  People are processed by the penal system like 
cars on an assembly line.  They "serve time" and are supposed to 
be made safe for society.  The great number of repeat offenders 
points out the failure of the system.  The public is justifiably 
outraged by these criminals and demands longer sentences and 
the death penalty to solve the problem.  Our prisons are 
overflowing, but the problem remains.  
	Another attempt to control crime is protection:  if we can't 
eliminate crime, at least we can protect ourselves.  People carry 
guns and Mace, install deadbolts and window bars, and buy 
insurance and elaborate alarm systems.  The streets are avoided 
at night, strangers are eyed with suspicion, and wealth is 
measured in number of keys.  At some point, these measures 
become a reverse prison; we lock ourselves up for security.  Are 
we willing to trade freedom for this kind of security? 
	The fear and anger of citizens is understandable.  Security 
has a high priority, and people will take extreme measures to get 
it.  People are often willing to ignore constitutional rights of 
others and sacrifice personal freedom in order to stop crime.  
Any attempts to change the way we deal with crime has to 
acknowledge the fear of most citizens.  For example, legislation 
to ban handguns is futile as long as people think that the police 
are incapable of protecting them against crime.  
	Our reliance on police and punishment obscures methods of 
crime prevention which may be more effective.  Tremendous time 
and money are spent in dealing with crime, but eliminating the 
causes of crime receives scant attention.  Part of the reason is 
belief in the concept of "bad" people who choose to commit 
crimes.  The only way to deal with them is to eliminate them or 
separate them from the "good" people.  A more effective 
approach is to recognize that all people have the capacity for 
social or anti-social behavior and that the environment largely 
determines which predominates.  
	Tracking down causes of crime requires searching through 
many layers.  A drug addict may be stealing in order to buy 
drugs.  Threats of punishment are obviously futile; this person 
has no choice.  It is probably more effective to deal with the 
problem of drug addiction before dealing with the stealing.  One 
could try to stop drug traffic, but it is better to go a step further 
and ask why people become addicted in the first place.  What is 
the environment in our homes and schools that promotes drug 
dependency?  How do these people feel about themselves and 
society?  Soon we are forced to look at our basic values and 
	Making fundamental changes in the law enforcement system 
is difficult because it requires a change in attitude and a 
complete re-structuring of society.  Present attempts to control 
crime, such as more police, more prisons, more guns, and more 
severe sentences, are short-term approaches that are extremely 
costly and inefficient.  
	Rape is an example of a crime that receives much attention 
while its causes are largely ignored.  Women are justifiably 
angry that their lives are haunted by fear.  Attempts to defend 
against rape, such as self-defense, increased police patrols, and 
more effective prosecution, are useful but do not address the 
basic problem.  Rapists are being produced at least as fast as 
they are being caught.  Women will remain vulnerable as long as 
we avoid examining the family and educational influences that 
are conducive to producing rapists.  As long as we view rapists 
as aberrations rather than the natural result of societal 
influences, we will be plagued by them.  
	Part of the problem of crime goes back to our basic concepts 
of laws and rules.  These concepts come mainly from childhood, 
where punishment is threatened for misbehavior.  But children 
soon find that clever action can escape punishment and win 
admiration from peers.  The message they get from television is 
not "Crime does not pay," but "Only the stupid ones get caught." 
Children are seldom taught that their actions can harm 
themselves.  When I was caught embezzling my milk money as a 
child, I was severely punished, but there was no mention of the 
harmful effects on my health from buying candy with the money.  
	Most people view law as an external force.  They avoid 
exceeding the speed limit because they fear a ticket, and they 
cheat whenever they think they will not get caught.  There is no 
awareness that the law is designed for their safety; there is no 
sense of internal law.  These same people can be found driving at 
65 in a fog because it is the presumed legal speed.  
	The basic alternative to crime is a healthy society in which 
every person is accepted as a part of society.  Crime is the result 
of an attitude that separates one's own needs from those of 
society.  Most of the violent crimes arise out of anger toward 
self, toward society, toward authority.  People who feel that they 
are nothing and are treated as if they are nothing will try to fill 
the void with drugs, alcohol, money, violence, or power.  
Nurturing a sense of self and one's inherent interdependence 
with society is the long-term solution to the problem of crime.

Chapter 18


	The battle over abortion seems to be an endless conflict.  The 
opposing sides are strongly polarized.  Both sides are convinced 
that they are right, and there is almost no communication 
between sides.  The only hope for resolution of the conflict is for 
both sides to accept each other as human beings.  There is no 
hope as long as pro-life advocates picture the opposition as 
unfeeling murderers, and pro-choice advocates stereotype the 
others as ignorant fanatics.  
	There will always be disagreement on abortion, but we can 
try to reduce the enmity between sides.  Each side can begin by 
listening to the feelings of opponents instead of arguing in 
defense.  We can accept other people even when we strongly 
disagree with their beliefs.  This acceptance recognizes that their 
beliefs are sincere and as valid for them as our beliefs are for us.  
	The abortion conflict has been intensified by improvements 
in medical technology.  The survival rate for premature babies is 
now about one-half at 28 weeks (1986), which is the usual time 
limit for abortion.  Some premature babies have survived birth at 
23 weeks.  So we have a situation where many abortions are 
technically equivalent to infanticide since the fetus may be 
capable of living outside the mother.  
	Much of the conflict over abortion could be resolved by 
shortening the period available for abortions.  The issue of 
abortion changes as the timing of the abortion changes.  At one 
end of the time continuum is abortion immediately after 
conception.  This would still be opposed by religious people 
who also oppose contraception, but many others would accept it 
because a fertilized ovum hardly looks like a human being.  At 
the other end of the continuum is abortion just before normal 
birth.  Most people, including pro-choice advocates, would 
oppose this case because it really amounts to infanticide.  So for 
many people, their view on abortion is a matter of timing.  Late 
abortions form a small percentage of all abortions, but cause the 
most problems.  These cases involve more medical risk, more 
emotional trauma to both the mother and medical personnel, and 
the possibility of survival of the fetus.  Eliminating late 
abortions may be one way to ease the conflict.  
	Abortion involves medical risk and is traumatic even if one 
accepts its necessity.  What pro-choice advocates really want is 
not necessarily abortion, but the right of women to control their 
own lives.  Abortion is reluctantly chosen only after rejection of 
all other possibilities.  One solution to the conflict might be 
provided by technology: a semipermanent contraceptive method 
that is completely effective without serious side effects.  Such a 
method would eliminate most of the need for abortion.  
Intrauterine devices came close to providing a solution, but 
unfortunately had serious side effects and were not completely 
effective.  Much more work needs to be done to find more 
effective contraceptives and to reduce the need for abortions.  
	It is clear that the controversy will not be resolved by 
ignoring those with opposing views.  The abortion issue is 
extremely complex.  It involves morals, emotions, civil rights, 
medical considerations, and our basic attitudes toward life.  It is 
in the best interest of all sides to discuss the issue rather than 

Chapter 19

Labor and Management

	The American worker is one of our most under-utilized 
resources. Traditional industrial organization makes a sharp 
dichotomy between labor and management that is detrimental to 
both. Labor and management have been traditional antagonists, 
and the two forces have roughly balanced each other in the 
recent past. However this arrangement is becoming outdated as 
new developments put stresses on both sides. It is time to 
restructure our industrial society to benefit both labor and 
	One basic problem with the traditional labor versus 
management system is that it separates the welfare of the workers 
from that of the employers, ensuring conflict between the two 
groups. These conflicts can harm both groups by reducing 
productivity and profits. Workers have traditionally used strikes 
to force employers to improve working conditions and wages. 
These strikes have often been long and costly to both sides. This 
tactic is becoming outdated as foreign labor, automation, and 
high unemployment shifts the balance of power in favor of 
employers, who can now afford to fire workers with impunity. 
	Workers need motivation to do their best. This motivation 
comes from a sense of acceptance:  being a uniquely valuable 
member of a group. Most American companies discourage 
acceptance by separating workers from management and by 
trying to suppress individuality. Conformity is enforced by 
threats, and valuable feedback from workers is ignored. Workers 
have scant influence on policies and are unlikely to feel any 
loyalty to the employer's interests. It is not surprising that many 
workers do the minimum work necessary under these conditions. 
Most workers are not inherently lazy and sloppy; the source of 
the problem is mismanagement. 
	Managers have their own problems such as increasing foreign 
and domestic competition, poor work quality, and recurrent 
recessions. One way to meet these challenges is to promote the 
welfare of workers. Fair wages, decent and safe working 
conditions, and a voice in policy are conducive to maximum 
worker effort. Arrangements for substantial sharing in the profits 
of the enterprise can improve morale and provide flexibility in 
hard times. The huge disparity between the wealth of owners 
versus workers has to be reduced before workers will identify 
with company interests over their own immediate needs. For 
example, workers would be unwilling to accept lower wages in a 
recession when the company president's multimillion-dollar 
income is untouched. 
	Automation, which has been called the second industrial 
revolution, is likely to produce major changes in society. We are 
faced with a situation in which owners can maintain production 
with very few workers. While this may seem to be a boon to 
owners, the resulting unemployment will become a problem for 
everyone. Unemployed workers are not an asset to anyone, and 
industrial output is worthless if people cannot afford to buy it. 
	One approach to automation is to oppose it in order to keep 
people employed. Another is to use it to free people from the 
drudgery of industrial production and allow them to engage in 
more meaningful activity. Drastic social changes will be needed 
in order to use automation to benefit all people. Working as a 
means of survival will have to be phased out as machines take 
the place of many workers. We will need to re-evaluate our basic 
concept of work for wages. Society will have to be modified to 
distribute the abundance produced by machines to all people as a 
natural right rather than as a reward for work. Society will have 
to face the difficult task of providing alternative activity for 
many people who no longer have to work, and education will 
have to play an important part in filling the void. 
	There is presently a great deal of attention in American 
business on power and profits. The interests of workers and the 
public are ignored in the rush to produce short-term gains 
through maneuvers such as corporate takeovers. Intense 
competition is producing cheap mediocrity instead of excellence. 
These conditions are detrimental to everyone. Money and 
resources have no intrinsic value; they have meaning only in the 
context of other people. The entire material assets of the U.S. 
would not be very useful to one person in isolation. Attempts to 
hoard resources and exploit people are doomed to eventual 
failure. There are presently enough resources in the world to 
provide everyone with abundance. The challenge is to use those 
resources to benefit all people.

Chapter 20


	It is popular in some circles to proclaim the evils of colonial 
powers and dictators and to side with revolutionary groups.  
People with this perspective tend to overlook abuses of power by 
revolutionaries.  Almost every successful revolution is marred by 
excesses.  Examples are the bloody aftermath of the French 
Revolution, the Stalinist sequel to the Bolshevik Revolution, 
and the anti-intellectual purges of China's Great Cultural 
Revolution.  These flaws cannot be excused by arguing that the 
revolutions produced beneficial changes that were needed.  
These problems are not coincidental; they can be expected 
because revolutions produce change by force.  When the 
opposition to the force is overcome, there are no balancing 
forces to prevent abuses of power.  
	Military victory is only part of a revolution.  What follows is 
the difficult task of building a new order from the ashes of the 
old.  There is physical and economic chaos, and the remnant 
opposition is a constant threat.  The victors will be tempted to 
continue using force to protect their hard-won victory.  
Therefore, we often see martial law, censorship, and political 
imprisonment in revolutionary regimes.  
	Some may argue that revolutions are necessary evils to 
produce changes; you can't make an omelet without bashing a 
few eggs.  But there are a few historical exceptions to violent 
revolutions.  One is M. Gandhi's successful non-violent 
campaign to end British colonialism in India.  Another is the 
movement led by M. L. King to end racial segregation.  Both of 
these efforts produced profound changes without resort to 
violence by the proponents.  
	Revolutions are no longer isolated conflicts; most of them are 
now fought on an international stage.  Arms and aid are often 
provided by major powers with hopes of benefiting from the 
outcome.  So what seems a simple solution to oppression usually 
turns into a protracted and costly struggle.  
	One advantage of non-violent change is that there is less 
threat to the ruling class than with revolutions.  Changes in 
behavior are demanded rather than the destruction of people in 
power.  The ruling class, including those sympathetic to change, 
is unlikely to consider compromise and negotiation when their 
lives are threatened.  Violent action usually produces 
entrenchment of policy; retreat is unlikely.  Backing an 
opponent into a corner and then demanding change is likely to 
produce defiance rather than cooperation.  Change can be made 
more palatable when proponents consider the interests of both 
sides in a conflict.

Chapter 21

			       The Unknown Soldier
			   You press the trigger
			       the man disappears.
			   One less enemy soldier_
			       so far away that you
			       never saw his face
			       never knew who he was.
			   Did he like chocolate ice cream?
			   Was he married?
			   Maybe he enjoyed playing the saxophone 
			       and was an expert restorer of old clocks.
			   What made him laugh?
			   Who were his friends?
			   Could you have been his friend?
			   Do you care that you have killed
			       someone you didn't know?
			   Takashi Yogi


	There are no winners in any war.  The mutual suicide of 
nuclear war is only the ultimate example of the futility of war; 
even conventional war has only losers.  One side may seem to be 
a winner because the other side surrenders.  One side may be 
declared the victor even when it suffers staggering losses, as in 
the victory of King Pyrrhus over the Romans or the Russian loss 
of 6 million lives in WW II.  The concept of winning a war 
assumes that the interests of both sides are separate, but this is 
artificial.  We live in a world where gains and losses are shared 
internationally.  A depression in one country affects the entire 
world.  Art, literature, science, inventions, natural resources, and 
people are international assets.  When we consider the 
contribution of one German, J. S. Bach, to the world of music, 
we can begin to imagine how much the world has lost in the 
millions of German dead.  We also have to list the material 
losses, the paintings, cathedrals, and manuscripts that were 
	The greatest loss to the "winning" side is the victory itself. 
It reinforces the use of war as an acceptable way of resolving 
disputes and thereby perpetuates war.  Victory justifies all the 
mis-perceptions that are necessary to fight a war:  that one side 
is right and the other wrong, that the enemy is inhuman, that 
there is no alternative to war.  
	War numbs our sensitivity to other people by separating us 
from others emotionally and physically.  This separation has 
increased with the development of weapons.  Armed with a 
sword, a man had to face his enemy in order to kill him.   The 
distance between combatants has increased with the invention of 
the bow, gun, airplane, and intercontinental missile.  It is now 
much easier to ignore the humanity of the enemy when millions 
of them are represented by mere dots on a computer display.  We 
kill another person, ignoring the person's humanity and 
uniqueness, and thereby devalue our own humanity and 
uniqueness.  It is remotely possible to reproduce a great painting 
or reconstruct a bombed cathedral, but a person appears only 
once and is gone forever.  
	Wars are perpetuated by a stubborn faith in the concepts of 
right and wrong.  This blinds us to the equally fervent beliefs of 
the opposing side.  Armies never march under the banner of evil 
or aggression; God, homeland, justice, and honor are usually 
invoked.  Once the first shot is fired, every soldier is convinced 
that the enemy is wrong.  The issue of right and wrong is 
meaningless in a war.  An example is the Israeli-Palestinian 
conflict, which has become a series of retaliations.  The list of 
atrocities is so long that it is meaningless to ask which side 
struck first or which side is more justified in its actions.  
Another example of perpetual conflict is the war between the 
British and the Irish Republican Army.  These conflicts and 
many others like them will never be resolved by arguments over 
which side is right.  The only hope is for both sides to realize 
that fighting benefits neither side.  
	There is a disturbing symmetry in both sides of the Cold War.  
Each side has ample weapons to obliterate the other side, and 
any increases are quickly matched.  Each side is distrustful of 
the other side and sees the other side as being the obstacle to 
peace.  Each side has a list of aggressions committed by the 
other side that prove that the other side is intent on domination 
and can't be trusted.  The result is a precarious stalemate.  
	War is a logical extension of our use of force to solve 
problems.  We use force to make children eat their vegetables, to 
keep students from smoking marijuana, to keep rapists off the 
streets, to keep other nations from infringing on our foreign 
resources.  Force is often used as a substitute for analysis, 
persuasion, negotiation, and incentives.  I am not condemning 
the use of force as "bad"; I am pointing out our exclusive 
reliance on force to make others do what they don't want to do.  
The use of force is so common and accepted that alternatives are 
usually overlooked.  
	Force is so tempting in its direct effectiveness that we ignore 
the consequences to both parties.  We get immediate compliance 
from a child by saying, "Go to bed or I will spank you." We also 
got immediate obedience from Stalin in 1946 when we said, 
"Stay out of Iran or we will use the A-bomb." The child may 
store resentment until retaliation is possible as a teen-ager.  
Stalin retaliated in 1949 by getting his own bomb.  
	War is seen as necessary when diplomacy fails.  In examining 
this assumption, we need to ask why we would consider war 
against some countries and not others.  War with Japan or 
Germany, our recent enemies, now seems extremely unlikely.  
Even serious disagreements in trade policy will not result in war 
with these countries.  Yet we continue a Cold War against the 
USSR, a former ally.  The difference lies in our mutual fear of 
domination and not in shortcomings of diplomacy.  This fear 
prompts a continuing arms race and conflicts in Third World 
countries such as Viet Nam and Afghanistan.  
	Some people may oppose wars of aggression but argue the 
necessity of defending against attack.  This distinction is mostly 
conceptual.  In practice, the requirements and actions are nearly 
the same.  Heavy militarization is needed for defense, and 
provocations can readily be found to justify defensive retaliation.  
In an age of "pre-emptive strikes" and "launch on warning" of 
missiles, it is pointless to ask whether the missiles were 
defensive or offensive and which side fired first.  
	Much attention has been directed toward the problem of 
nuclear war.  Nuclear weapons bring new urgency to the problem 
of war because of the threat of mutual annihilation.  The 
seriousness of this threat cannot be overstated, but the weapons 
are only the results of attitudes that would remain even if all 
nuclear weapons were destroyed.  The present wars over 
US/USSR  domination in Third World countries would 
continue.  The prospect of fighting a non-nuclear World War III 
is a dismal alternative to nuclear holocaust.  Focusing on the 
nuclear weapons is not sufficient, and disarmament is highly 
unlikely as long as mutual fear and reliance on force remain.  
	Wars are comparable to childish squabbles.  One child 
snatches a toy and is hit in retaliation.  Then the fighting 
escalates until an adult intervenes.  In international conflicts 
there are no interveners; we need to resolve our conflicts without 
resorting to fighting.  War is primitive behavior that has acquired 
respectability through centuries of use.  It seems ironic that we 
are using the most advanced technology to engage in 
Neanderthal behavior.  Unlike childish fist fights, our fights can 
be vastly destructive.  It's time to grow up.  

Additional Comments 1997: Drastic changes in the Soviet Union 
occurred after this chapter was written.  Many people in the US 
saw this as a victory of capitalism over communism.  So the war 
mentality continues.  We came very close to annihilating the 
world and wasted enormous resources on a conflict that had no 
substance.  The end of the Cold War has not produced peace.  
Our stockpile of nuclear weapons remains.  We will find new 
enemies such as China, Iraq, and Cuba.  We have made small 
progress toward peace; our basic attitudes toward conflict remain 

Chapter 22

What about Hitler?

	What can a country do if it is attacked?  Is war the only 
option?  Many will admit the senseless waste of war but argue 
that there is no choice but to fight back.  Part of the answer to 
this quandary is that there are many ways to prevent an attack.  
One is to avoid being a threat.  Military power and defenses are 
open invitations to attack.  Formidable defenses such as the 
French Maginot Line are tempting challenges.  
	Another way to prevent attack is to adopt a more integrated 
world view.  Attempts to exploit a country eventually fail and 
often lead to war.  The harsh terms of the Versailles Treaty 
planted the seeds of discontent that allowed Hitler to rise to 
power.  We need to promote more interdependence and 
cooperation among nations rather than competition.  A free flow 
of commerce, culture, visitors, and ideas can reduce the narrow 
nationalism that tends toward war.  
	A country without military defenses can still resist 
domination by an aggressor.  The concept of civilian-based 
defense has been developed by Gene Sharp.*  He cites several 
cases where unarmed citizens succeeded in using non-
cooperation to resist foreign domination.  This is not the same as 
guerrilla warfare or partisan activity, which are underground 
forms of war and usually produce increased repression and 
reprisals.  Non-violent resistance poses risks, but the mass
casualties and physical destruction of military defense can be 
largely avoided since there is no need to bomb an unarmed 
country.  This lack of military resistance does not mean victory 
for an aggressor.  The will of people is stronger than any 
physical force; people determined to be free will never be 
	The path of non-violent action is not easy.  Suffering and 
even sacrifice of our lives may be required.  The difference 
between this price and that of military solutions is that we need 
not compromise our principles or numb our sensitivity to people.  
We can fully believe in our cause because the nobility of our 
means matches that of our goals.  The power of non-violence is 
based on the humanity of people and not on the force of 
weapons.  It appeals to oppressors to join their subjects as 
members of the family of humanity.

*Gene Sharp, Social Power and Political Freedom, Porter                
Sargent Publisher

Chapter 23

				The Last Pelican
		      Gliding effortlessly
		      Majestic motion without movement
		      Wingtips almost touching the molten-jade sea
		      Climbing silently with slow, powerful strokes
		      Then the dive! Wings folded just before the splash.
		      It gazed at me with sage face.
		      Wisdom distilled from eons of survival.
			  "Remember well what you have just seen;
			      it will never be seen again.
			   For I am the last--
			      you have destroyed all the others.
			   Learn from our dying that all life is one--
			      we live or die together."
		      The pelican unfurled its wings and flew out
			   to merge with
			   the timeless sea.
		      Takashi Yogi          

One World

	There are no easy solutions to the problem of conflict.  Quick 
and simple solutions only aggravate the problem.  It is time to 
give up our use of force without understanding, time to find 
more effective and lasting methods.  Permanent solutions can be 
found only by changing our attitudes toward ourselves and 
others.  The problem is not "bad" people, groups, and 
governments, but our attitude, which sees them as the problem 
and seeks to suppress or eliminate them.  
	We do not have to wait for society and the world to change in 
order to achieve peace for ourselves.  We can find inner peace 
immediately by accepting ourselves and others as part of an 
integrated world.  This change in attitude will affect how we 
perceive the world's conflicts and how we deal with them.  This 
will be the beginning of the slow process of healing the wounds 
of conflict.  The healing will start with the individual and spread 
to family, friends, society, and nations.  
	Part of my optimism for the viability of this attitude of 
acceptance is based on a faith in the basic humanity of all 
people.  This humanity dies hard.  It glimmers faintly even in 
hardened criminals, mass murderers, and torturers, waiting for 
acceptance.  If my faith is unrealistic-- if people can become 
completely unfeeling robots-- then we would do best to resign 
ourselves to protecting ourselves from them with more locks, 
police, guns, bombs, and missiles.  But we have already 
exhausted history trying this approach and have only increased 
our insecurity.  It's time to try something else.


     Where did I get all this?  I'm not really sure.  I gave up trying 
to separate my thoughts from those of others; they are hopelessly 
intertwined.  The notion of an original thought is a fiction.  We 
harvest on ancient soil cultivated by our countless predecessors.  
I owe perpetual debts to numerous authors, such as Dosteyevsky, 
Thoreau, Hugo, Steinbeck, Saroyan, and LeGuin; playwrights, 
such as Shakespeare and MacLeish; movies such as Kurosawa's 
Red Beard and Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy; and 
songwriters, such as Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and Leonard 
     I will admit that I did not research the field to see if these 
thoughts have been published; I will know eventually.  I stole the 
core of my thesis, unconditional acceptance, from Christianity.  
It is a gem buried under a vast overgrowth of dogma, and most 
Christians would not recognize it.  I welcome them to reclaim it.  
Other concepts, such as oneness and non-discrimination, came 
from Zen Buddhism.
     But what about love?  Some may have noticed the absence of 
this word.  I avoided using the word because it has a wide range 
of meanings for various readers.  Many times I feel a sense of 
warm connection to other people that I'm inclined to label as 
love.  But this feeling is personal and difficult to transmit 
through language.  I think I have described what love is without 
using the word itself.  Unconditional acceptance transcends mere 
attraction and pleasant feelings.  It allows us to feel a connection 
with people who are outwardly repulsive and hateful.  It allows 
us to overcome all the barriers that keep us apart.
     What I have described is a design for relations in an imperfect 
world.  The principles of the design apply equally to individuals 
or nations.  Acceptance provides continuity to carry us through 
lapses of enlightened behavior in ourselves or others.  The 
design is flexible enough to accommodate differences in values.  
I have tested the design in my own life and have found that it 
works.  It not only resolves conflict, but also prevents many 
conflicts.  It worked where other approaches failed.  I remain 
imperfect, but my life is no longer preoccupied with conflict.   
     My hope is that others will continue the refinement and 
application of these ideas.  I welcome your criticism and 
comments.  The basic ideas are simple, but the implications are 
manifold, and there is much work to be done in translating the 
ideas into practical action.  There are no quick and simple 
answers to the problem of conflict, but we can begin to lay the 
foundation for peace between individuals and nations.         

     I wish to thank Marybeth Webster, Herbert Moore, Harriet 
Jacoff, Lea Wood, and my wife Carol for their valuable criticism 
and support.      

Takashi Yogi  
Box 525  
Capitola, California 95010     


About the author:   
     I was born in Okinawa in 1942 and narrowly survived the 
horrendous final battle of World War II that cost the lives of 
over 190,000 people.  After the war my family emigrated to 
Hawaii.  I studied physics and worked as an electronics engineer 
in California. When life in Los Angeles became oppressive, I 
went to live for a year in a small cabin without electricity and 
plumbing. Another year was spent studying music while living 
on about $15 a month. 
     I had been struggling for over seven years to save a marriage 
that seemed hopeless.  During a marital fight, I was hit by some 
tangerines, which shocked me into realizing that I could choose 
not to retaliate and that I could return love instead of hate.   That 
was the start of this book, which is the product of six more  
years of search for a workable solution to conflict.  Marital 
counseling helped somewhat, but I kept failing in spite of trying 
very hard to do the right things.  During my search, I noticed that 
international disputes were similar to my personal turmoil, and I 
widened the scope of my quest.  The result in not truth;  all I can 
claim is that it works for me.   I hope it is useful to you as you 
find your own path.

Go to Table of contents

Go to Home Page