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'My Life After Hate': A Testament to the Transformative Power of Peace

Ann-Elise Henzl

A few weeks ago, Lake Effect spoke with contributor Arno Michaelis and Pardeep Singh Kaleka about their book The Gift of Our Wounds, and their unlikely friendship that blossomed after the Sikh Temple shooting in Oak Creek. But Michaelis, a former white supremacist, is also author of the new memoir, My Life After Hate, which looks back at his former racist, skinhead past and its roots.

READ: A Sikh & a Former White Supremacist Share Transformation, Healing in 'The Gift of Our Wounds'

"I think I could not have done this without some other kind of spiritual practice. Whether I'm praying or meditating, I needed that device and that tool to cultivate and practice my own inner peace, otherwise there was no way I could do any of this work."

Michaelis had a central role in the White Power movement of the ‘80s and ‘90s, which is an about face from his work today, which he terms “waging peace.” He says his practice of Buddhism and meditation played a key role in that transformation.

Writing his story came from heartbreak: Michaelis believed because of his past he could never find happiness. And he didn't feel deserved it either. So he realized he had to deal with his past if he wanted a better future.

"I had to go there and face it with openness and honesty," says Michaelis.  "In the process of doing that, if I can help other people learn from my mistakes and hopefully not make them in the first place, then in this process of catharsis I can also make the world a better place."

Listen to more of the conversation between author Arno Michaelis and Lake Effect's Audrey Nowakowski.

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Audrey is a producer, host and reporter for Lake Effect. She is involved with every aspect of the show — from conducting interviews, editing audio, posting web stories and mixing the show together.