The Two Hands of Yes and No

A great new book available from Orbis Books written by authors John, Sheila and Dennis Linn.

Unique among the Linns’ many books, this one was written by two generations: Sheila & Denny, and their young son John. Unique among books on active nonviolence, it includes the psychological foundation that helps humans realize their innate capacity for goodness. It is also unique in that it clarifies the true meaning of nonviolence, as represented in the title The Two Hands of Yes and No. All nonviolent action (in every relationship) can be symbolized by two hands: one says, “No, you cannot mistreat me,” and the other says, “I care about you, too.” Although nonviolence is sometimes misunderstood as weakness or passivity, the combination of these two hands constitutes what Gandhi called, “the greatest force on earth.”

The Linns include family experiences of places where active nonviolence has been used, often with dramatically positive results. They found evidence for the stunning but largely unknown success of active nonviolence, confirmed by recent research. This book offers hope to all, including John's generation represented by nonviolent social change movements of students who are leading the way for a country in desperate need of their courage and determination. We hope this book will be required reading in every high school and college, in every adult education program, and for everyone desiring a world of peace for the next generation.

Nonviolence gives us two hands upon the oppressor— one hand taking from him what is not his due, the other slowly calming him as we do this.
— Barbara Deming

Denny and Sheila Linn (together with Denny's brother, Matt) have taught courses on healing, forgiveness, and nonviolence in over sixty countries and in many universities, including a course to doctors accredited by the American Medical Association. They are the authors of twenty-three books, including two books for children and those who care for them. Their books have sold over a million copies in English, and have been translated into more than 20 languages. John Linn is a college student, majoring in education. He is also a children's ski instructor and camp counselor. Denny, Sheila, and John live in Colorado.

Learn more about the Linns:


“This is the only book I know of on active nonviolence written by a family and the only one that includes the psychological foundation for nonviolence. The Linns voice the hope of parents and children everywhere—that we have the power to end violence, injustice and war, and one day live in peace. They include the perspective of young John, who has participated in nonviolent action since early childhood, and Denny and Sheila, John‘s parents, who have worked for peace and justice all their lives. Along the way, the Linns give us all new hope.”
—John Dear, Author of The Nonviolent Life and Living Peace

“The Two Hands of Yes and No brings active nonviolence into clear focus as a powerful and effective approach to transforming violence and conflict. Thank you to the Linns for an important and inspiring book.”
—Marie Dennis, Co-president, Pax Christi International

“May this book be required reading in every high school and college, and for everyone desiring a world of peace for the next generation.”
—Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action & Contemplation

“A nonviolent shift has been gaining momentum over the last century. In under two hundred pages, the Linns have aptly synthesized the key learnings that have emerged over the past several decades. They reveal with startling clarity that nonviolence is both more moral and more effective than violence. Bringing into one place virtually all the key stories and case-studies that have circulated in the oral history and emerging discipline of active nonviolence, this critically important book will equip all of us to be part of building a world that works for everyone.”
—Ken Butigan, Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies program, DePaul University

“Gandhi said, ‘If we want peace we will have to begin with the children.’ The mainstream culture we feed our children today is precisely the opposite. Here, the Linns give us something healthier to grow on. This book has an extra note of authenticity, as it is told from the perspective of a family, including a young adult student. Packed with information about active nonviolence (a rapidly developing but still little known science) and compelling stories, reading it is an uplifting and learning experience, with exercises and reflections at the end of every (relatively short) chapter. I highly recommend this book for young adult readers and their parents.”
—Michael Nagler, President, Metta Center for Nonviolence

“My grandfather would be happy and proud of how the Linns have honored his legacy and carried on his work….This book is a must read for anyone who has any doubts about the efficacy of nonviolence.”
—Arun Gandhi, Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute

“The Linn family is unmatched in its commitment to nonviolent solutions to conflicts, whether large or small. Equally unmatched is the singular and persuasive power of the story they tell in The Two Hands of Yes and No. It deserves a wide audience.”
—Colman McCarthy, Director, Center for Teaching Peace, Washington Post Columnist

“The Linns have presented a hugely accessible exploration of active nonviolence that will be the 'go-to' book for generations to come….The holiness of our current resistance needs this book.”
—Gregory J. Boyle, SJ, Founder, Homeboy Industries, author Tattoos on the Heart

Pace e BeneRyan Hall