If you liked Sally Kohn's The Opposite of Hate you'll love this Canadian book
Readers and reviewers loved American author Sally Kohn's The Opposite of Hate for its frank look at how to cultivate empathy and compassion in our modern world.
The Next Chapter columnist Victor Dwyer has scoured Canadian bookshelves to find its match, and has come up with the late Victoria, B.C.-based bank robber-turned-author Stephen Reid's A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden.
Opposite of Hate by Sally Kohn
"Sally Kohn is an interesting woman. She's a liberal but was welcomed into conservative cable news outlets, at least in the days when they still welcomed liberals on those shows. The title of the book intrigued me: What is the opposite of hate?
"I actually get quite anxious about what's going on in America and where it might be going. Other countries are gone right off the rails and I don't think anyone can pat themselves on the back and say we won't be an exception. It's a very charged time and there are a lot of horrible experiments going on there — pushing things further and further towards animosity.
"Kohn really was taken aback by the fact that she found herself slipping into this anger — as she put it: 'swimming in hate' — whether it was on Twitter where lots of people troll her or in her day-to-day life as a citizen. It startled her and so she really want to kind of understand how hatred gets ramped up in our society, in other countries and in America."
A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden by Stephen Reid
"I've been wanting to read some of Stephen Reid's work for a while. He died in 2018 after spending much of his life in prison. The title A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden refers to a very specific rusted-out crowbar he finds in this meditation garden at a prison he was in outside Victoria. He mulls over the notion of the force and the violence of a crowbar versus meditating your way back to a calmness.
"In this collection of essays, he tells his own story and that of other damaged men within prison. He tries to make some sense of the hatred that has often defined his life and came close to ruining his life. To him, prison is really a place ruled by hatred — it's awash with stories of hurt and tribes of victims who have kind of inflicted their victimhood on other people.
"Like Kohn, Reid looks at, in a much more directly personal way, how to move beyond hate, no matter what has come your way."
Victor Dwyer's comments have been edited for length and clarity.