I wrote Olive Branches Don’t Grow On Trees after a failed attempt at making peace in my own family.  Writing this book wasn’t only cathartic and therapeutic, but it gave me an opportunity to vicariously experience Silvia’s successful peacemaking endeavor in her family. I also had an opportunity to learn about peacemaking by writing about this subject. There are important lessons in this story about forgiveness, having understanding for and getting along with all types of people, especially with those whom are different than yourself.

When Silvia needs to convince Cosmo to forgive Frank, she tells him about a lesson she learned from their Grandma Tucci when Silvia, herself, was angry at her mother, Donna. The wise old woman told her granddaughter to remember something kind that her mother had done for her and that remembering this deed of kindness would help to alleviate her anger towards her mother. When she remembered how Donna had gotten her a bonsai tree when she was a little girl, her feelings of anger dissipated.

Silvia is able to freely forgive her father, Frank when she recalls a dream she had in which he was a baby crying out for his mother, who was never supportive of him. This image allows Silvia to feel compassion and empathy for her father and makes it easy to forgive him. Remembering that people’s wrongdoings almost always come from a place of great pain can help you to have compassion instead of anger.

When Silvia needs to convince Vince to get along with their brother-in-law Doug, who he resents because of their radically opposing values, she warns him that getting along with such people with whom he doesn’t share the same values is necessary if he ever hopes to get through to them. In today’s political climate, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the anger game and the “us and them” mentality. This is unhealthy, counterproductive and disallows for peace–the only thing that will bring us together and heal the world.