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The Art of Waging Peace: A Strategic Approach to Improving Our Lives and the World Hardcover – July 2, 2013
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VETERANS FOR PEACE CO-FOUNDER;
PEACE STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF MAINE/FARMINGTON (retired)
Paul Chappell's THE ART OF WAGING PEACE comes from a sure hand and a steady eye as he works both as an artist and as a social scientist, as a memoirist and as a master narrator, in the telling of a journey we would be wise to understand. Chappell speaks to me as a Vietnam War veteran, as a founding member of Veterans For Peace, as a former teacher of peace studies, but more importantly as a father and as a grandfather. I offer him the ultimate compliments for his timely work -- if I were still teaching, it would find its way into my syllabus; as my grandchildren enter early adolescence, it will find its way onto their bookshelves.
What I find most rewarding about this book is its honest attempt to explain nonviolence and its refreshing discussion of nonviolent direct action as a workable strategy. After years of teaching peace studies, I would have been remiss if I didn't have my students read Gandhi and King, of course, but I always faltered, I thought, when I emphasized that their brand of nonviolence required great courage and discipline. We discussed agape, unconditional love, as a driving force for both men, and I tried to convince the students that it was possible, and desirable, to expand their horizons of compassion to include even those they despised. Chappell deftly weaves a convincing narrative to show how agape can work through his discussion of his "infinite shield"--self-respect transferring back and forth to respect for others--and his "sword that heals"--nonviolent direct action. And, included in this discussion, is Chappell's frank avowal of how violence is always at the table--both Gandhi and King were wise to acknowledge its influence on their lives.
That's the appeal of this book to me as a teacher. As a Vietnam War veteran, I appreciate Chappell's willingness to not shrink from the allure of the "berserk," using a measured discussion of his own demons to help us coax out our own. He is correct in claiming that these demons, once released through war, will remain with us forever; but he's also spot on when he claims that we can use them, through our work as "peace warriors," to do some good in the world. That's his appeal to me as a member of Veterans For Peace.
When we founded VFP in 1985, we knew that we were breaking new ground--creating a veterans' group that would work to abolish war unequivocally. We knew that we would draw other veterans to us who saw war as a moral issue not merely a political or strategic conundrum. Chappell, too, recognizes the moral implications of war-making and its lifelong grip on our souls. But he also takes on the other even more complicated principle of VFP's basic mission--to carry on our work nonviolently. Chappell notes that many consider nonviolence to be the work of naifs, those not schooled sufficiently enough in the world of hard knocks to be realistic. He counters that claim with stories of nonviolence actually working and then gives us a blueprint for making nonviolent direct action actually work in our own lives. That, in itself, is well worth the price of admission into Chappell's world.
Finally, let me add my vote of gratitude to Paul Chappell for crafting a work that is imminently accessible. Its combination of personal narrative, Greek philosophy and history, biographical sketches of preeminent peace activists, and moving current history makes it readable for those young people who are venturing into the world from high school. These are the people most susceptible to the siren call of the military recruiters, soldiers with quotas to meet come hell or high water. The recruiter isn't born yet who is prepared to take on such an informed, compassionate voice as Paul Chappell's. For that, I thank him for his service to countless young Americans, including my own grandchildren.
1. The author describes his childhood in a very articulate way. His father (half Caucasian and half African American) was physically abusive and his mother was Korean. He was bullied by his peers because of his mixed background. He became a bully himself but eventually learned to encourage peace on a personal level.
2.The author extrapolated his own experience to the world in general and strongly promotes the idea of war as a last resort. His perspective and courage is admirable.
I differ with the author about his support of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests. These included multiple rapes and other acts of violence. They also left lots of garbage for others to pick up.
Here are some other books that address related topics:
1. “Come On People”, by Bill Cosby
2. “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand
3. “America 3.0” by Bennett and Lotus