Real life stories

This thread describes real relationships and communities that follow the way of the healer. There is failure, and messy ambiguity, and hope.

We encourage you to submit a post telling us about a marriage, a family, a congregation, an organization, a community or an international situation you are aware of where the way of the healer is being attempted.

About the way of the healer

The root task of government is to meet our fears--to give us security, to keep social order, to deal with our enemies. We are testing a different way to meet those same needs, one not based
As a healer you gamble that even a terrible person has a trustworthy side, and you engage, betting that you can invoke that side. From Description: the healer at war.

We say a relationship or community is healthy when the people involved want a relationship even if they deeply disagree; they listen to each other, are respectful, voice their point of view, ask for what they want, gamble that the other is trustworthy, negotiate, don't avoid conflict, don't walk out, and don't use coercion. From Description: the healthy community.

A healer speaks to an enemy as if that enemy represented the very best that humanity can aspire to. From Description: the healer at war.

We negotiate. We live by asking. We ask, ask, and ask again. From Description: the healthy community.
on coercion (law) or violence (arms) or territory (state). We're provisionally calling it "relationship healing" or just healing.

A good mother wants a relationship with her grown children even if they have turned out very differently than she hoped. A healer wants and knows how to have a healthy relationship with people who are very different, even opponents.

The healer's strategy is to turn an enemy into a trustworthy opponent within a healthy relationship. They may remain adamantly divided, but they have a respectful relationship where their difference can be productive. This site reflects on ideas and experience in the tactics of healing.

Healing and coercion both carry risks. Arguably healing is riskier in the short term, while coercion is riskier in the long term--that's one of
Regardless of the way you follow—Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, whatever—-if you want to join with those from other ways who believe we can profit from our differences to improve all our ways of healing the world, then we need your story and your texts, we need you to help us learn to live together even when we remain very different.
the things we want to test. Arguably both healing and coercion are called for, in different situations--that's one of the things we'd like to clarify.

This site is for those living in a conflict situation, great or small, who have lost faith in coercion and control, and are willing to take some risks gambling that their enemies potentially have a good side.


The Description of the way of the healer is written in terms of how humans should relate to each other, as a working document among different religious and secular traditions.


We encourage you to submit a post describing

a marriage, family, congregation, organization, community, movement or government where the way of the healer is being attempted,

the texts and stories of your particular tradition--secular or religious--to teach, expand or critique the way of the healer,

an application of the way of the healer to some current social problem.

John Fairfield founded, with much encouragement and critique by Larry Alderfer Fisher. Posts explaining where they are coming from are here.


A list of organizations that advocate and use the way of the healer.

Submit a post

Please help elaborate and critique the way of the healer by commenting on existing posts, or by submitting a post of your own.


Email us at

Gruff backtranslating chat

Want to talk to someone on the other side of the world who doesn't speak any language you can? Gruff lets you text chat with them. It uses machine translation, which is often really bad, even downright misleading. BUT BEFORE you hit the send button, it lets you see how well your stuff is being translated. So if it's being poorly translated, you can try rephrasing things until you find a phrase that translates well. Then you hit send.

An example: Suppose you speak English, and your friend speaks Arabic, and he doesn't know any English and you don't know any Arabic. Here's how it works.

1) You launch Gruff in a lightweight window, or just navigate to

2) Chat room: You type the name of a "chat room"--like "Debby and Sam" or "xy55G9" or whatever. Make sure your friend on the other side of the world knows that chat room name, exactly (it's case sensitive, "debby and sam" is a different room). Anybody around the world who uses that same chat room name will be able to communicate with you--or just read what you and your friend type. So you might want to think of something pretty complicated, it's your only guarantee of privacy. Think of it as both a userID and a password wrapped into one, that you share with your friend so that you can chat.

3) Your name: whatever you want to be called today. Your "sends" will be labeled with this name.

4) Select the language you are going to be typing, and the language your friend will want to read this in. So you'd select English>>Arabic. Your friend would select Arabic>>English.

5) Replace "enter text here" with whatever you'd like to say to your friend.

6) Hit the "test" button. You'll see your English translated into Arabic, which does you a whole lot of good, AND you'll see that Arabic translated back into English. If the backtranslation isn't good, replace what you've typed with some other way to say what you want to say, and keep "test"ing and retrying until you find a way of saying it which has a reasonable backtranslation. That way you can hope that the Arabic is ok too.

7) Once you've gotten a reasonable backtranslation, hit "send". Your friend will see the Arabic.


Some languages, like Arabic, read from right to left. The "<>" button toggles left-to-right and right-to-left presentation.  Your friend will need it, you won't, but you might as well click it to see the effect. Just click it again to get the presentation back to left-to-right.

If you want to see everything--what your friend actually wrote, his translation, and his backtranslation--click the "+" button to toggle back and forth between seeing everything, and just seeing your language.


None of this is foolproof. A good backtranslation doesn't guarantee that the Arabic is any good at all--maybe the English was poorly translated into Arabic, but the translation back into English was just as crazed, and two wrongs made a right. And it could be that the translation into Arabic was ok even if the backtranslation was bad--the error was only in the translation from the Arabic back into English. But we hope that with this simple backtranslation aid, you and your friend will be smart enough to compensate for the poor machine translation.

We use google translation. It is among the best machine translation services available. We don't provide the translation, we just provide a means for you to get around it.

Gruff does NOT keep records of past conversations. It keeps only keep a few minutes, enough so that if you lose your connection and reestablish it, you'll be able to get what your friend has sent while you were disconnected. After a few minutes, Gruff tosses it.

The Sleeping Cat:

If you see a simple drawing of a sleeping cat in the chat window, it means that your gruff is asleep--your gruff is not listening to any chat room. If you have been chatting with a friend, and neither you nor your friend send anything for a long while, then your gruff will go to sleep (you'll see the sleeping cat). If your friend sends a message while your gruff is asleep, you will not see it. If you click on the cat, your gruff will wake up again and show you everything that was sent while it was asleep, so you won't miss anything.

For technical problems, email

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