Monthly Archives: April 2017


“People will listen to you to the extent that they feel you have listened to them.” Its called the LISTENING CONTRACT and explains why SOME people can’t get their message through, no matter how many times they speak. Everyone has a right to speak, but no one has a right to be heard. Attention must be paid.

Marco Polo to his crew before they embark to China ( An Imaginary Dialog)

My Fellow Voyagers
Be Curious, Not Critical!

If you can’t help Yourself
Being Critical
Be Curious about what is Making You
So Critical.

If you can’t be Curious
About what is making you so Critical
Then be Critical about what is making you
So Critical
And stopping you from being Curious.

If you can’t be Critical OR Curious
about what is making you so Critical

Then clearly you are not ready to journey.




Hello all our family and friends it is with great pride we announce that Bernard Costello, my dad has been been awarded the Legion of Honour by the French Government for his part in the liberation of France in 1944/45. Bernard served as a Flight Lieutenant navigator in 115 squadron RAF 3 Group Bomber Command. He completed his 30 mission tour, and than was appointed squadron navigation officer. He continued to fly, and he and his squadron led Operation Manna dropping supplies to starving civilians in the Netherlands in 1945 in a half truce with the Germans. After the surrender he flew on repatriation missions for prisoners of war. Yet he waited to marry his beautiful Muriel until peace in the Pacific, as he was to again to fly with Tiger Force against Japan. He is very humbled. We looked forward to the investiture.

Principles of Communicative Competency.

“I never said half the things I said.” Yogi Berra

“Its not what you said that matters
and its not even what you think you said
(which is sometimes totally different)
Its not even what your audience heard
its what they think they heard you saying.”


Unless you speak inside the story that shapes the Listeners Listening
you will trigger them back into their own preferred stories anyway
reducing you to the script they expected. Nothing changes.
Its not the story you tell that matters,
despite all our workshops and training
its the story you trigger
the story people listen to you through.
Story is the shape of our listening. Now that reminds of of something I read or maybe even wrote way back


A normal reaction to a normal occurrence
is normal.
An abnormal reaction to an abnormal occurrence
is normal.
An abnornal reaction to a normal occurrence
is abnormal.
A normal reaction to an abnormal occurrence
is abnormal.

When I watch the 22nd Benghazi Hearing, knowing that 9-11 only merited 21, and wondering is this an abnormal reaction to the normal risks of diplomacy after an revolution. Or a normal reaction to an abnormal occurrence, the death of a diplomat???

And watching Palestine and Israel flare up again and wondering why the media present it as an abnormal reaction to a normal situation, as if Occupation and Check Points or Separation Walls and conscripting 18 year olds is in any way normal. I wonder about that.

A story- to work as a story-has to be the break in the pattern of the normal to show the abnormal, to have the surprise erupt through the complacent surface of the expected, but it all is measured by the normal.

Knife attacks in the streets of Jerusalem !!!! could that become as normal as the stops at checkpoints- or right wing attacking left wing? Or settlers yelling death to Palestinians- as normal as Palestinians screaming death to Israelis.

The drama of any story somehow depends on the territory of what is normal, but when we tolerate greater and greater levels of inhumanity, when cruelty becomes normal, torture a part of our foreign policy, then our stories shift- we define normalcy down, to quote Tip O’Neill. And all our stories become horror stories that no longer even scare us.

Remember In a colony of nudists, the man in the suit and tie is the rebel.

paralyze or Mobilize?

Jermarkus Booker from AmeriCorps 2014-15 visited the new Project Change team today and quoted what he had learned from our story method of training- This is how he put it-

You can tell stories that paralyze OR you can tell stories that mobilize.

If you want positive social change, you have to learn how to tell the second kind of story and stop telling the first kind of story.

If that is what I said, it ain’t half bad. thanks jermarkus


I am becoming more and more patient with my impatience,
and more and more tolerant of my intolerance,
more and more forgiving of my unforgiving ways….

not sure what that means.
is this self compassion finally breaking through?
Am I finally gaining wisdom?
Or is it I am just too tired to care anymore.

Maybe its me, maybe I am getting older, but when you have lots of time, being patient comes easy. But getting older means you know your time is limited and less and less are you willing to sit around to endure endless meetings or hollow events or pursue concerns that seem frivolous or irrelevant to the main concern. We realize at some point that we have to make the main thing the main thing.

What does that board meeting matter in the final wrap up of eternity. Will the eternal auditor in the sky be asking you- what was that $113.46 cents spent on in September? Do you have a receipt and was it in the budget? Why didn’t you use the generic brand?

At some later point, we come to understand that its not lack of money or lack of friends or lack of opportunity that casts the greatest shadows over our lives, its the lack of time- the one thing we know infallibly that we will run out of and the one thing we seem to so be so profligate in wasting- on so many concerns that don’t matter and will never matter.

Then perhaps a fiercer force arises from deep within us, not out of impatience or boredom but out of the singular defense of time, my time, your time, everyone’s time. No one has a right to waste anyone else’s time. To show up late, to come unprepared, to indulge in distracting side conversations, perhaps at one point in our lives are unavoidable irritations but at some point, they becomes crimes against humanity, because what they take away can never be won back. When you die, OK, we have eternity, God’s time and he took 14 billions years to make life on earth. He can relax, but us poor humans, all we get if we are lucky is 50 or 70 or 90 years. No time to shake a galaxy loose or have a big bang- No, yet enough time to know what time is for and to live so that we are not merely marking time, but making sure it counts.


“it is easier to act into a new way of thinking
than it is to think into a new way of acting.”

Once we act, it’s as if the brain has to come up with an alibi to make it seem explicable. We know this clearly from when the people have acted from some hypnotic auto-suggestion. They change their shoes, because that is what the hypnotist told them, and they tell you it was because their feet were sore.

I reflect on this in peace work that so often assumes you can think your way into a new way of thinking and this new way of thinking gets you to a new way of acting. The paths to peace are supposedly built in dialog and mutual understanding and the catch cry of more education about differences. I am not so sure anymore.

Conflict is about enforced action that shapes the thinking. Action comes first, thinking comes late to the action, to justify it or re-enforce it. Think about the conditoning of war. Under threat, you shoot first, aim second, and explain or excuse later, if you even have to. Most times in war, thinking is a luxury.

Young men and women are conscripted into armies to defend the homeland, not their choice at all, but after 2-3 years serving, you have to create a story that fits the action, and not the other way round. You are forced to act into a new way of thinking. If the other is viewed down the barrel of an M16, that action creates the threat and not the other way around. Action creates thought.

Or you are forced to leave your home, face perils and blockades every day, and you have no choice but to act into the story of the refugee, even if your identity story is one of a proud home owner. Your story no longer supports the action as meaningful. Yet you cling to your label of refugee even 60 years later because home is who you are but the chance of return are slim to none. You live a story broken by the actions of others, and you cannot act into a new story, or reclaim the old one.

When one seeks to create a new story, I realize now that action demands a story whereas a story never demands an action per se.

The NSL program this coming year is subscribing to the theory of change that believes first of all- to get back into your story, you have to get into the ACT. not get into dialog or lets talk about the conflict or lets learn to listen more. No, lets act about the conflict. Lets act into a new way of thinking because that is how we got into this kind of thinking in the first place. It came from acting and being acted upon. Can we act differently?

And Second, in that acting, ensure that you are acting in your own story and not acting in someone else’s. What tyrants all know is that If I can get you to act in my story, I can get you to think as I think. We must resist that, not with slogans or PR campaigns or boycotts but acting into a new way of thinking.

The arena of change is action. The territory of starting a new story is to act anew, which gives rise to thinking anew, and changing the world of possibility.


An Israeli women was hacked to death last week, by a young Palestinian teen. A rabbi wrote in his column that an angry reader of his had reacted by saying the response should be to kill 100 Arabs. It might make the victims feel better that they are not alone, but the cycle of violence becomes an endless cycle of revenge,because justice is out of reach.

And then you read of the Doctor from Gaza, who lost his precious daughters and how did he react? By calling for an end to all the killing. NSL is proud to be part of broadcasting his story to the world, for those who have not heard it and for those who have, at this time of renewed tensions. .

Mention Gaza and you think of Hamas and rockets. You think war and destruction and terror. You might even conjure up the familiar image of the International School pictured above after the 2009 war.