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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling yet Troublesome, March 7, 2011
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This review is from: American Citizen, Global Citizen: How Expanding Our Identities Makes Us Safer, Stronger, Wiser - And Builds a Better World (Paperback)
Mark Gerzon's most recent book takes many ideas he developed in his previous writings on leadership, especially his book Leading through Conflict, and expands them into an almost formal methodology to guide us in the expansion of what he calls our global intelligence (GQ). He starts out by offering a simple template: Open our eyes (the skill of witnessing), open our minds (the skill of learning and unlearning), open our hearts (the skill of connecting) and open our hands (the skill of geo-partnering). One chapter is devoted to each element of the template and is full of touching and moving quotations and stories about real people dealing with real problems.

Mark's writing style makes it feel as if he is sitting across from you intimately sharing the stories in person. He has a passionate belief in what he writes and it comes through in every sentence and paragraph. His message is a compelling one. Frankly, if more of us took his ideas to heart we and the world would be the better off for it. However, as much as I agree with so much of what Mark writes I can't get rid of a nagging doubt about the limits of his ideas.

In the introduction of the book he cites two quotes. One is by President Obama and the other by Newt Gingrich. The President talks about his identifying himself as a citizen of the world and Mr. Gingrich renders the idea of global citizenship as intellectual nonsense. I actually think both ideas are correct. The reason for this seeming contradiction is that the word citizenship has two very nuanced meanings. One emphasizes being legally identified with a nation and the other being the member of a community. If we focus on the first definition then Gingrich's comment makes sense. It is intellectual nonsense to even use the idea of global citizenship. However, if we focus on the second definition then Mark's ideas make a great deal of sense. It is this opposition of ideas that planted the first tiny seed of doubt in my head about the ideas Mark presents in his book.

Why do I have a nagging doubt about the ideas Mark presents? The reason lies in the last chapter in which Mark outlines twenty strategies on how to develop GQ and offers resources the reader can use to help along the way. Each idea is elegantly simple. I can't imagine anyone finding fault with any of them. Here's the problem, however. These ideas assume that others are of the same mindset. The sad truth is that not enough others are. There is real evil in the world and as history has shown, evil exploits the peacemakers. Hitler, Stalin, Amin, Pol Pot, the Taliban and Al Qaeda have all used peacemakers as tools to pursue their own agendas. Mark's approach, as attractive at it seems, ultimately fails to address the question of evil and brute force. Seeking understanding, opening your hearts, searching for common are noble sentiments but they have to be tempered by caution. Sometimes the person on the other side of an issue is really trying to harm you. My hope for the future is that we can live in a world where Mark's ideas become common practice. Until then I'm going to keep my hand at the side of my holster.
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Location: Glen Ellyn, Illinois United States

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