Dear Friends,

My longtime sister Michelle Goldhaber is a peacebuilder and organizer who has lived and worked in Ukraine for more than 15 years.

Highlights from this sister talk on how to practice revolutionary love in wartime:

  • How to use the revolutionary love compass as a practical tool to metabolize grief and still take action
  • How to navigate the racial bias in our collective response to Ukrainian refugees vs refugees of color
  • How to reconcile the necessity of military defense in Ukraine with our commitment to nonviolence
  • How to find breath, rest, and joy in our bodies even as we are awake to war and suffering on such a scale
  • The conversation closes with a beautiful meditation rooted in the Sikh tradition

We’ve also created a compass guide for a moment such as this, when the flames of war are burning all around.

Scroll down for “How to practice revolutionary love in wartime,” our new compass guide.

Remember that helplessness is a fiction. We have the power to co-create culture and shape our future. May the compass help put breath in your body and find your role.


P.S. Boston friends! I will be speaking on revolutionary love at Tufts University this Monday, March 28th, at 4:30pm. Michelle Goldhaber will be in attendance. It will be a powerful healing night in community. Please join us! Register here: Go.Tufts.Edu/NoStranger

How to practice revolutionary love in wartime

“Helplessness is a fiction.
We have the power to co-create culture and shape our future.”
–Valarie Kaur

Download as PDF

Love for Others: See No Stranger

WONDER: You are a part of me I do not yet know

  • When you see the faces of refugees in the media, as they flee the violence in Ukraine or other war-torn regions, can you think to yourself “sister,” “brother,” “sibling,” “child”? Retrain your eye to see these refugees as kin. Who we see as “one of us” shapes what we do.
  • Read the stories of people impacted by war and violence.
  • To go deeper, go to the WONDER portal.

GRIEVE: How are you brave with your grief?

  • How can you help those most impacted by the war hold their grief and trauma? Is there a vigil you can attend? A phone call you can make to someone you know who has been directly impacted, just to listen?
  • There is no fixing grief, only bearing it. No right words, only witness. 
  • To go deeper, go to the GRIEVE portal.

FIGHT: What is your sword and shield?

  • What is one thing you can do this week?
  • Can you make a donation? When donating, look for smaller local organizations to contribute to. You can find a vetted list of organizations supporting Ukraine during the war here.
  • Can you volunteer your time? What skills can you offer? Caritas is one organization seeking volunteers. Learn more here. If you are considering going to Ukraine or a border country, be sure to have a plan, so as not to create more work for people there.
  • Contact your representatives and urge them to provide more military support to Ukraine in their efforts to defend themselves.
  • To support all refugees at the Southern border in the U.S., contact your representatives and urge them to end the Title 42 ban on asylum seekers.
  • Be mindful of disinformation. Follow news sources with journalistic integrity.
  • To go deeper, go to the FIGHT portal.
Taken together, wondering, grieving, and fighting with and for others creates deep solidarity. Deep solidarity is rooted in love, binding us long after the news cameras have gone home.

Love for Opponents: Tend the Wound

RAGE: What information does my rage carry?

  • There is a role for rage, for feeling the trauma and loss, for touching the capacity for hate inside of us. The task is not to suppress rage or let it explode, but to process our rage in safe containers. We can prevent rage from solidifying into hate when we feel it and let it move through us.
  • If you are far from the danger of war, can you be the safe container for the rage of those experiencing the trauma and violence of war? Believe the stories of victims, don’t contest their rage and try not to judge it.
  • To go deeper, go to the RAGE portal.

LISTEN: How do I listen to an opponent?

  • If you are not a direct target of violence, it can be your role to listen to those seen as opponents and seek to understand them. If you know Russians who support the war, what is seductive about the story they are telling themselves? What makes them cling to that story? 
  • If you wonder about them, they may wonder about you in turn, and you can offer them stories and insights they have not let in yet. 
  • Encourage those who are protesting and risking their lives to speak out against the actions of their government.
  • To go deeper, go to the LISTEN portal.

REIMAGINE: What is the beloved community to me?

  • Resistance is necessary for survival. 
  • For those of us not directly impacted by the violence of war, we can hold space to reimagine the world on the other side of this war. Can we reimagine a world in which authoritarians, in small town arenas and on the world stage, cannot come to power in the first place? What culture can we create around us, block to block, heart to heart? Look to positive examples from history where perpetrators took responsibility and made amends, like with Germany after World War II (remembering that nobody is perfect).
  • Spread stories of people rushing to help. One story inspires another.
  • Explain the war to a child who is ready. We can raise a generation of peace-builders. You can find suggestions for how to have these conversations here.
  • To go deeper, go to the REIMAGINE portal.
When we can see the humanity in even our opponents, we preserve our own. Our opponents lose their power over us; we become freed. This strategic act gives us information that allows us to respond in ways that address the cultures and norms that allow their behavior.

Love for Ourselves: Breathe and Push

BREATHE: How are you breathing each day?

  • Rest, breathe, pray. Imagine a shield of love over the people of Ukraine.
  • Give yourself permission to take breaks without guilt, turn off the news, walk away temporarily, focus on something else for a period of time.
  • Who or what are you breathing with? Is it the ocean, the mountains, music, poetry, art, dance? Is it a friend, a loved one, a trusted advisor? How are you sleeping?
  • Do you have a safe container, a loved one you can share your grief with? Someone you can cry to or with whom you can share concern?
  • To go deeper, go to the BREATHE portal.

PUSH: What awaits us on the other side?

  • Once you’ve given yourself time to breathe, what do you feel ready to do to facilitate healing?
  • What is the internal work you are ready to do around your rage, grief, trauma, loss? Or is there support you could lend to hold space for others?
  • If you could imagine peace and reconciliation as it pertains to the war, what does that look like? What does that feel like in your body and in the world? Write it down. Share it with a trusted friend. Is there something you could do right now that would contribute to this bigger picture?
  • To go deeper, go to the PUSH portal.

TRANSITION: How do we stay in the fire of transition?

  • Make a plan. The forces that led to war in Ukraine are not alien here. Mark the midterms on your calendar. Decide how you want to volunteer to transition the U.S. into a healthy multiracial democracy.
  • What are your particular areas of growth? Do you need to educate yourself on current immigration laws, learn some basic Ukrainian history, or participate in a training such as bystander training or diversity, equity, and inclusion? Examine your own implicit biases.
  • Who are the midwives, the loved ones in your life that can be by your side to help you when it gets hard? Who are the ancestors you can call upon?
  • To go deeper, go to the TRANSITION portal.
When we labor with all of the practices of revolutionary love, that labor becomes porous enough to let joy in.

JOY: Joy is the gift of love

  • Can you locate where you feel joy in your body?
  • Can you find even just a moment for music, for laughter?
  • To go deeper, go to the JOY portal.