I have a family member who is extremely militaristic, and right-wing conservative Christian. He sees my views as 'the enemy' because he believes Non-violence is passive and that I am just trying to ignore or gloss over the world's problems. Ideally, we would have a heart-to-heart about this, but there is no desire on his part to hear anything I have to say on the matter. To him, I am wrong, I am the enemy, and I need to be put in my place.

So, what can be done? I'm working (slowly) through my hurt and anger around the issue, and I am trying to make peace with the part of myself that is just like him in order to make peace with him. Still, it is hard. I want to be seen for who I am, and not as a naive windbag with her head in the clouds.

Any advice on things I can say, do or think about will be very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

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Oh, and I should mention, he is family by marriage, so I barely know the man. It makes it harder because there's not any real family love there to begin with. He married my husband's sister, so he's kind of an in-law-in-law. The difference in ideology is deep enough that at family gatherings, he avoids me almost completely and will scarcely say a word to me or my husband for an entire week, even when we are staying in the same house. It's awful, and everyone feels it.

Oh, please help.
Hi Sarah.
I am sorry to see that you have this discord in your family. Your strength always lies in your beliefs and convictions, however unpopular they may be. You are completely powerless to change his beliefs as you may well know, so that answer lies in your role modeling and not in suggesting that he be more like you. In time he may modify his beliefs, but until then it may be necessary to either stay under the radar with him, or find some common ground or interests you can talk about. All I can say other than that is to pray for him, and throw little pink pillows of peace at him in your mind. He won't know what hit him.

I can't help but laugh at the image of throwing little pink pillows of peace at throwing rainbows at Rambo...made me giggle. Thanks. I'll try that.
Dear Sarah,

You can't please everyone. If you are doing what you feel is right in your heart, then there will always be some people who disagree. Whether it's about war or religion, or anything. At least now, on the planet the way it is. The fact that he's avoiding you might make things awkward, but it also might be better than the alternative - getting into discussions and arguments about peace and war and religion all the time.

Sometimes the best we can do is to set an example. If you do get into discussions with him, point out that Jesus was a pacifist. Point out that Jesus said "blessed are the peacemakers." Point out that the very first commandment is "Thou Shalt Not Kill." Remind him about the "swords to plowshares." There are many examples in Christianity that should make him ponder.

But this is something you may never get far with, and in many cases avoiding certain subjects is the best thing to do.
It sounds like you are uncomfortable with avoiding each other altogether, and you'd rather get to a place where you can chat about light subjects (sports, weather, movies...). Maybe you could just get things out in the open and propose to not talk about politics or religion with him. Then you wouldn't have to avoid each other and at least you could chat about other things respectfully.

I can tell you it works, if both sides agree... I have a couple relatives. We just don't talk about politics or religion. They sort of know how I feel and I sort of know how they feel, and it's all very different. But it's OK. I don't exactly look forward to spending time with them but when we are together we talk about sports and movies.

If it is pulling you down and dragging on your energy, try turn it into something positive. Don't let his energy affect you. For every drop of anger and agression you see in him, return it back 10 times with peace and love - without saying a word, on a subconsious level. Have compassion for him. Send love and light to his soul. Visualize white light melting his anger, his guns, and his misunderstandings. Pray for everyone in the world to become more peaceful. It can't hurt :)

Thank you for being who you are.
i see jesus more as an activist . . . pacifist in some ways, but mostly an activist. after all, he said, "i came to bring fire" -- fire is never pacifying, unless one is gazing into a lovely flame in a controlled fire, in which case, i would say, perhaps you are right after all -- the discipline and care one has to live in to have fire be pacifying is quite evolved!!!

i loved the article in Yes! magazine ... ... on this subject.
Dear Sarah, I too have in-laws who, although they are Christians, hate my work for peace and have attacked my husband and my self for the things that we do to work for peace. I have a commitment to avoid conversations about topics involving politics and war when around them. I have specifically asked my brother in law to stop sending me right wing hate email and have actually blocked him from my email. I believe in my heart that the unity and love of the family rises above politics and even above my desire for peace. I tell myself that when all is said and done, I might be wrong, or we both might be wrong. Anyway, the screaming fight that results from any discussion on these topics doesn't add to peace in the family and civil discussion doesn't seem to be possible. This holiday, I focused on communicating to my father in law how much I care for vets and how much I think that returning vets should be well treated. He seemed a little confused by the fact that we stood on common ground on this aspect of the war and didn't start any difficult discussions. When he does start difficult topics, I have dragged my husband out based on our prior agreement not to go there. I try to be an agent for peace even if it means abandoning the obvious advocacy for awhile and just working on peace in the immediate situation. Don't know if my experience helps, hope it does.
sarah . . . i come from that in my immediate family, so i feel you. i strongly agree the advice of others: walk your talk. i do not agree with "avoidance" as that is not the true road to peace. if you are a seeker of peace, you are active in your quest to create it in all the relationships and situations the universe has given you to grow your peace within.

some of the tools i use to walk my talk in that situation is to receive all that he says with love, compassion and detachment, so you can respond in "his language" . . . use the words of his convictions to show him the ways you and he are in agreement. the christian language is full of powerful peaceful truths, messages and actions. if you don't know the lingo, listen to his words carefully, especially if he likes to recite scriptures. if you know the christian scriptures, ask him what he thinks about those that are important to you . . . not to 'corner' him, but to listen to how he perceives the scriptures you value. understanding his perception is important to bring a peaceful relationship that is healthy and expanding for both of you. when around him, especially if he is not in direct dialog with you, listen for things he says that you agree with . . . don't listen to for what you don't agree with, but that which you do.

if you hear something he says you agree with, repeat what he said to you that you agree with, and say, "i really agree with what you said _____________." pointing out the places of agreement are more powerful than any discourse you may have on your disagreements.

the truth is . . . there are no disagreements, only different perceptions of the same truth. creating a place of mutual agreement creates a space for dialog about your different perceptions.

everything else, especially if its emotional or heated, be mindful that you are responsible for your own words and actions and go forth accordingly.

peace & harmony,
'freedom must be exercised to stay in shape!'


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