Review by Jean Marie P. Barch from the Winter 2002 Issue of FGConnections
Part of what makes inspirational writing great for me is the cadence and flow of the language. I was distressed to know that the eloquence of Martin Luther King, Jr., or the straightforward and engaging style of Dorothy Day or Thomas Merton or the somewhat enigmatic style of Thich Nhat Hanh was going to be fed to me in someone else’s style. I need not have worried. Walter Wink has done an excellent job of editing a wide range of works that encompasses the scope of writings on peace in this century. Although the work is certainly not exhaustive, it draws from the work of many preeminent world leaders of the peace through nonviolent action movement. The book moves the reader from visions of peace (Gandhi, Muste, Merton and others) to witnesses for peace (King, Lanza Del Basto, Berrigan. The book then goes on to commentary (Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and others) on the spiritual underpinnings of peace and the connection to interracial justice, to looking at nonviolence in action, the path of reconciliation and finally a discussion of the global spread of active nonviolence. Throughout, an important emphasis is on the difference between non-action and nonviolent action.
My appetite for a further understanding of what moved some of our peacemakers to action was aroused even as my awareness of the scope of their work was satisfied. Wink helps the novice reader to place each piece within the sweep of the history of the movement through juxtaposition of works as well as through brief grounding introductions to each piece. The variety of works allows the reader to develop an appreciation of the many different ways in which nonviolent response to injustice can be mounted. This same variety allows the reader already well versed in this body of work the chance to rethink connections among a wide range and variety of peace workers. When I encountered works I already knew well, I found that the editing, though noticeable, was not intrusive nor did it damage the flow of the writing overmuch. This allowed me to be confident that the editing of other works provided a representative sample of the entire piece.
In these times when those of us who would teach peace are challenged to provide a clear underpinning for our belief as well as a useful road map for moving the work forward with clear alternatives to violent response, this volume offers both inspiration and guidance.