Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: The Anatomy of Peace

        I read...a lot.  Yes I have a busy life – but much of my leisure time is spent reading books because I love them.  I try not to recommend books very often.  When I recommend a book, I want it to be something special, something worthwhile.  I want people to trust me and think my recommendation is worth something.

        I whole-heartedly recommend The Anatomy of Peace.  It is the best book I have read this year.

        The Arbinger Institute has now written two books.  The first was quite good.  When I started this book I was afraid it was just going to be a re-hashing of that book: “Leadership and Self-Deception.”  What I found fascinating is that IT IS the same material; they cover the same topics and teach the same lessons.  But they do it so well, and teach it with such REAL LIFE examples, that I couldn’t stop reading the book.  I was only supposed to read 65 pages before our book club meeting – I read all 224.  It really is that good, that helpful.

        The book starts with a bunch of parents all arriving at a “reformation camp” for wayward kids.  This is for those parents who have already tried everything else because their kid is on drugs, in jail, failing school, violent, belligerent, etc…
        The parents are asked not only to bring their children to the camp, but stay themselves for a few days.  The parents have to spend two days being taught by the two men who run the camp: Yusuf al-Falah, an Arab; and Avi Rozen, a Jew.  The book covers the two days with the parents, hearing their stories, and being taught by two men who should be the most bitter of enemies, but have found a way to make peace.
I know it might sound cheesy, and yes the story is kind of a lecture – but trust me, it’s worth it.

Here are a few Reviews of the book by people more well known.

Here are my favorite quotations from the book:

Lumping everyone of a particular race or culture or faith into a single stereotype is a way of failing to see them as people. – p. 29

When we start seeing others as objects we begin provoking them to make our lives difficult.  We actually  start inviting others to make us miserable. – p. 43

We provoke in others the very comments and behaviors we are accusing them of. – p. 49

Another characteristic of conflicts…is the propensity to demonize others.  One way we do this is by lumping others into lifeless categories – bigoted whites, lazy blacks, crass Americans, arrogant Europeans, violent Arabs, manipulative Jews, and so on.  When we do this we make masses of unknown people into objects and many of them into our enemies. – p. 54

The deepest way in which we are right or wrong is in our way of being toward others. – p. 57

If we can’t put an end to the violence within us, there is no hope of putting an end to the violence without. – p. 64

Sometimes we might be forced to defend ourselves…but that is different than saying that we are forced to despise, to rage, to denigrate, to belittle. – p. 80

Self Betrayal. It is a betrayal of my own sense of the right way to act in a given moment in time – not someone else’s sense or standard, but what I myself feel is right in the moment. – p. 90

A choice to betray myself is a choice to go to war. – p. 91

I needed to be justified for violating the truth I knew in that moment. – p. 94

What need would I have to be justified if I wasn’t somehow crooked? – p. 95

If I am worried that others are getting a pass, am I also worried about whether I am giving myself one? – p. 95

Whenever we need to be justified, anything that will give us justification will immediately take on exaggerated importance in our life. – p. 106

I can notice people’s relative strengths and weaknesses when I’m seeing them as people.  What’s different when I’m in the box however, is that I feel superior to or better than others because of these strengths or weaknesses…I’m doing more than simply noticing differences; I’m making judgments about peoples’ worth based on those differences. – p. 108

If I need to be seen as smart...I will get anxious whenever I think my intelligence might be at issue. – p. 132

Think of the privileges we may retain for ourselves while we apply other standards to those who work for is – privileges regarding vacation time, for example, the choice parking spot, the special perks, the public spotlight, the differences between what we have to do to get something to happen and what everyone else in our organization has to do.  Which of these are necessary or unavoidable, and which of them do we retain because we think we are better than others, more vital, and deserve special treatment? – p. 158

What’s more important to you now – flaunting your well-earned important status or building a team and organization that will outlive you, surpass you, grow beyond you, and ultimately thank and revere you? – p. 160

Try thinking about the people who have had the greatest influence for good in your life and why? – p. 175
 Simply the memory of those people can take you to a different vantage point. – p. 175
 Or maybe there is a particular book or book passage that has a powerful effect on you. – p. 175
You need only to identify the relationships, places, memories, activities, book passages, and so on, that have that kind of power for you, and then remember to search them out when you feel war rising within you. – p. 177

Most people who are trying to put an end to injustice only think of the injustices they themselves have suffered.  Which means they are not really concerned with injustice but with themselves.  They hide their focus on themselves behind the righteousness of their outward cause. – p. 186
·What are this person’s or people’s challenges, trials, burdens, and pains?
·How am I, or some group of which I am a part, adding to these challenges, trials, burdens, and pains?
·In what other ways have I or my group neglected or mistreated this person or group?
·In what are my better-than, I-deserve, worse-than, and must-be-seen-as boxes obscuring the truth about others and myself and interfering with potential solutions?
·What am I feeling I should do for this person or group?  What could I do to help?
We need to honor the senses we have rather than betray them. – p. 196

It is no good trying to teach if I myself am not listening and learning. – p. 205

We want to spend most of our time actively helping things go right. – p. 214

When our teaching is going poorly, we often try to rescue it by talking more and insisting more…If I am correcting and correcting but problems remain, that is a clue that the solution to the problem I am facing will not be found in further correction. – p. 215


Sharon Eakes said...

There is a wonderful 4 week teleclass available on incorporating the ideas in The Anatomy of Peace into your life. If you're interested, contact for information.

Nancy Smyth said...


Thank you for highlighting the Anatomy of Peace course by phone.

The book is great and we recognize the truthful logic it speaks; the course is a means to assimilate and integrate its language into our lives. The eight sessions were created to generate more insight and foster change.

I can guarantee the weekly dialogues and in-between work will increase self-awareness and give ample confidence in applying this knowledge to personal relationships. By taking a deeper look at the characters in the book, an understanding of self-created challenges unfolds and a choice for a heart at peace increases.

Know that you are welcome,
Nancy Smyth, facilitator

Kristen Wilkinson said...

This is a great sampling from a book I loved. Thanks for taking the time to write the quotes and pages!