In recent years, ethno-nationalist movements have had an apparent resurgence. We can see it at the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and in the rise of far-right politicians in America and abroad. What can we do to counter the hateful ideologies that have led to so much harm?
Arno Michaelis, an ex-neo-Nazi, and Pardeep Singh Kaleka, whose father was murdered by a white supremacist, came together after the 2012 Sikh temple shooting in a Milwaukee suburb that left Kaleka fatherless. The gunman, Wade Michael Page, who killed Pardeep’s dad and five others, was a member of the white power group that Arno had founded years earlier. (Arno had since left the organization and later became a Buddhist.) Now the pair travel around the country speaking to communities with their organization Serve2Unite, which leads students in arts-driven learning exercises and helps to facilitate socially engaged projects for young people on a variety of issues.
How Arno and Pardeep met and began working together to spread their anti-hate message is the subject of their new book, The Gift of Our Wounds. Tackling the issue of hate from both inside and out, they say that a combination of lovingkindness (Pali, metta) and relentless optimism (Punjabi, chardi kala) is the only path forward.
Here, Arno and Pardeep talk to Tricycle web editor Matthew Abrahams about their lives and their mission.
Tricycle Talks is a podcast series featuring leading voices in the contemporary Buddhist world.