The MWS Podcast 74: Arno Michaelis on his Life after Hate

Joining us today is Arno Michaelis. Arno is now a peace activist, but spent the late 1980s and early 1990s deeply involved with racist skinhead organizations, and was lead singer of the hate-metal band Centurion, which sold 20,000 CDs by the mid-nineties and is still popular with racists today. Single parenthood, love for his daughter, and the forgiveness shown by people he once hated all helped to turn his life around, bringing him to embrace diversity and practise gratitude for all life. Today he’s a speaker, author of the book My Life After Hate, and very fortunate to be able to share an ongoing process of character development working with Serve 2 Unite. Leveraging an online magazine, S2U engages students creatively with a global network of peacemakers and mentors in partnership with Against Violent Extremism, The Forgiveness Project, and Over My Shoulder Foundation. He’s here to talk to us about his life, overcoming hatred, his peace work and how all this might relate to the Middle Way

MWS Podcast 74: Arno Michaelis as audio only:

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About Barry Daniel

I live in the Lake District in the UK where I run a guesthouse with my partner Kate and my cat Manuel. I enjoy painting, hillwalking, reading, visiting and entertaining friends, T’ai Chi and playing the guitar. I’m engaged to a certain degree in the local community, as a volunteer with Samaritans and I’m a fairly active member of the local Green party. I’ve had a relatively intuitive sense of the Middle Way most of my adult life but it found a greater articulation and a practical direction through joining the society. It’s also been interesting and great fun engaging with other people with a similar outlook. My main contribution to the society is conducting the podcast interviews, something that gives me a lot of satisfaction and that I’ve learnt a lot from.

5 thoughts on “The MWS Podcast 74: Arno Michaelis on his Life after Hate

  1. A moving and inspiring story. I especially related to Arno’s account of how maintaining a deeply deluded view of the world drains energy, because of all the energy you have to put into maintaining it in spite of the counter-evidence. Hatred also drains energy because you have to keep repressing your sympathy. That’s an important insight about the relationship between integration of desire and integration of belief.

    Like Barry, I was also very moved by the story of the woman in Macdonald’s, and also by how much Arno’s memory of it weighed with him even though he didn’t face up to it at the time. This is a great illustration of how even when we are communicating helpfully to someone who brick-walls us or reacts negatively, we may still be sowing seeds of future integrative development.

    However, I did find the first half of this podcast a lot more engaging than the second half. I felt the second half could have done with a bit more editing.

  2. I too found Arno’s story very inspiring and felt it was important in the second half of the interview to explore his peace activism in counter-balance to his process of overcoming hatred which took up most of the first half. I personally felt intrigued and interested in all that Arno said and did indeed cut very little. However, I also recognize that editing is something I need to work on and that for many people an hour interview is too long and that my questions at times may lack relevancy. I suppose I’m slightly averse to adhering to the prescribed formula of keeping podcast’s to 20 minutes as I feel there’s a balance to be found between depth and brevity. But another thing in play with me is a reluctance to cut stuff that the interviewee might have felt was really important but obviously this is necessary at times with regard to keeping a talk coherent and lively. I think I would feel easier if I mentioned this briefly to the interviewee more, so I’ll try and do that from now on too. In terms of my own participation in the talks and the interactions and questions I ask and how valid they are, it would be really helpful if before I start editing someone could look at the interview and give me some feedback in this regard, so If any members out there fancy doing that, that would be much appreciated!

    1. The writer’s phrase comes to mind – ‘murder your darlings’. What I take that to mean is that sometimes one needs to sacrifice something that one actually feels is good on its own account, because it doesn’t fit so well into the whole you’re trying to fit it into. Getting rid of it feels like an awful waste, so it really is a kind of sacrifice for the greater whole. As the writer of some long books, I know how difficult that can be to put into practice! Perhaps a compromise option would be to produce two versions of a podcast – an edited highlights version (for people who wouldn’t view it otherwise) and a longer version for the afficionados.

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