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BYUH Professor Ford publishes book, 'Dangerous Love,' to transform conflict at home and in the world

Chad Ford sits on a chair wit his hands moved towards his chest in an expression while wearing a black shirt and mask with a wooden podium behind him.
Chad Ford teaching a peacebuilding class.
Photo by Ulziibayar Badamdorj

“We don’t need to have the same beliefs to feel connected with each other,” said Chad Ford, associate professor in the Faculty of Culture, Language & Performing Arts and director of the McKay Center. He published his first book, “Dangerous Love,” in June 2020 and said his goal is to transform fear and conflict at home and in the world.

“The reason the book is called 'Dangerous Love' is so we must ask ourselves, ‘Can I be in a relationship with people I deeply disagree with?’ The answer, most times, is no. However, our job is not to change the other person. When we see each other as human beings, we can work out our differences.”

Ford said the peacebuilding major and certificate program at BYUH now has more than 100 students from every culture around the world. “This is an opportunity to study the material and apply it to personal lives. People are interested in solving conflicts on personal, national, or international levels.” He said his new book can do that.

“My hope is someone can pick up the book, go through those exercises, and change their mindset with the tools I’ve provided them,” he said. “Those who read it have seen changes in their life.”

Ford shared an example from an email he received about a woman who was struggling because she and her father did not see eye-to-eye on politics. Ford said the conflict led to her friend recommending she read his book, and even though she did not want to change at first, she eventually created a plan to approach her father.

Ford said dealing with conflict is the same in politics as it is marriage. “When we work through our differences, we get closer to common ground, and it allows us to solve problems,” he explained. “If we are focused on changing the other person, we never get to where we want to go.”

Ford added people are afraid of conflicts, even the students he’s taught. “So many people come with preconceived notions about other cultures, but if you see people in a different context, you can change that mindset in different ways and open new possibilities helpful to others.”

Rachel Paul, a senior studying intercultural peacebuilding from Utah, said because of the peacebuilding program she is better equipped to create healthy relationships. “I feel like I have more tools to overcome prejudice in my life,” she said. “I can actually sit down and think about how this person is seeing the world and how I can fulfill their underlying needs instead of mine.”

Producing peacebuilders at BYUH

Ford explained when he lived in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, there were racial and cultural conflicts. However, when he arrived at BYUH, he fell in love with the cultural diversity, and soon joined the peacebuilding program. “It clicked with me,” he said. “It made me think about what I could do, and I knew it was something I wanted to be involved with.”

In the beginning, Ford said applying what he learned was difficult. “It’s one thing to study it, but it’s another thing to do it,” he explained. “I eventually learned I needed to see conflict from my perspective. Others may start it, but it doesn’t mean I can’t change it.”

Paul said BYUH is the best place to learn intercultural peacebuilding because of the diverse student body. “I love the program and principles it teaches because they’re applicable to everyone,” she said. “Brother Ford teaches people to have hope to change the conflict and see how it is affecting your life,” she said. “It’s not easy, but it gives you an opportunity to work through the conflict.”

Paul compared what she learned as a peacebuilding major to the story of Jonah in the Old Testament. “When the people of Nineveh repented, Jonah was angry because the Lord did not destroy the city. But I learned you must let God use His Atonement on everyone, not just you,” she explained. “Even if someone does not have the same moral standard, you can still allow them to repent. Giving them tools to do that is huge.”

Talking about the connection between peacebuilding and President David O. McKay’s vision for Laie being a place where people can learn how to establish peace internationally, Paul said she hopes students can learn to see others as they are without stereotypes or prejudices. “Applying the principles you learn from this major is fulfilling prophecy,” she said. “It gives you tools to help yourself and others around you.”

Ford said peacebuilding is relevant to personal lives and can change the way people interact with others. “To think now that BYUH is producing dozens of peacebuilders is amazing.”

Lessons from Chad Ford

David Whippy, assistant professor in the Faculty of Culture, Language & Performing Arts, was taught by Ford in the peacebuilding certificate program. Whippy explained he had moments of self-reflection as Ford’s student. “Being able to recognize where we fail is part of the journey to being better in the future,” he said. “It’s an ongoing process; something we must continuously work at.”

Whippy said he is largely motivated by his personal surroundings. “There were major conflicts between different cultures, and I didn’t want to raise a family in that environment,” he said. “I thought if I could change something in a small space, I could do the same in different communities.”

Whippy added, “It’s important for us as leaders to recognize others’ humanity and know what they bring to the table has worth to us. Critical thinking is something we are all blessed with, not just one individual,” he said.

“Brother Ford treats everyone the same. It shows in the classroom and in his work. He literally lives the life of a peacebuilder,” Whippy explained. “For example, when we went to Israel, he had two to three hours of sleep every day because he was constantly working with leaders and individuals, all on his own time.”

Whippy shared a moment from another trip to the Middle East with Ford. “He was teaching what we learned at BYUH through a translator, then he called me up.” Whippy continued, “I taught the same way he did, being sensitive to their culture and teaching in a way that was receptive.”

Looking back on that experience, Whippy said it was a moment he would cherish and said it gave him confidence. “You sometimes doubt when you’re ready, but Brother Ford knows when you’re ready.”

Whippy said putting students in positions to be successful makes him happy. “It comes from them finding out for themselves what they are passionate about,” he said. “It’s applicable to everyone. However, I expect future students to find ways to deal with conflicts, starting with their personal conflicts, then helping resolve conflicts around them.”