Mobilizing for a More Peaceful Twenty-First Century
James O’Dea, Cultivating Peace: Becoming a 21st-Century Peace Ambassador (Shift Books, 2012)
The world’s peace movements are undergoing a transition, according to James O’Dea, retired Amnesty International director. Whereas they once focused on simply opposing wars, peace organizations are now striving to actively build new social systems that embody justice and nonviolence, he writes in Cultivating Peace.
O’Dea calls on regular people everywhere to join in the shared effort by being “evolved peace leaders” in their own everyday lives. This type of peace leadership runs far deeper than protests and political campaigns: It involves a transformation of one’s own mind and heart.
Collective transformation toward more peaceable states of mind will come from thinking positively, learning to laugh, seeking wisdom, appropriately managing anger, and so on. We will not successfully stop violence, O’Dea concludes, unless we address the attitudes and patterns of thinking that give rise to it—and replace them with mind-sets conducive to shared understanding and affirmation of life.
O’Dea effectively melds social action and self-improvement into an inspiring clarion call for societal justice. At a time when mass movements are manifesting across the globe and swaying or even overthrowing whole governments, the author reminds readers of the transformative potential that concerned citizens of any country can yield when they work together. Activists and non-activists will find Cultivating Peace a worthy read.—Rick Docksai