When the headlines scream of war and peacemaking is not given much credence in the world of power politics, it is both healing and helpful to read a soul-stirring volume like this one. Scott A. Hunt, who has a degree in international law and teaches Buddhism at the University of California, Berkeley, describes the subjects of his book in an eloquent introduction:
"Even in the darkest times in our history, people of extraordinary character have lived among us, showing us a way out of the deplorable cycle of hatred and aggression. They exist this very day. It is to these people that we can turn in order to replenish our encouragement, hope, and inspiration. Martin Luther King Jr. called such people 'creatively maladjusted,' for they live outside the standard view, unwilling to accept the predictions of continual tragedies, incessant warfare, and racial and religious avarice. They are heirs of our great spiritual masters from centuries past, continuing now to challenge us to think and act differently, to live more productively and harmoniously.
"These people are gifted with an irrational faith. Their faith is irrational in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. They maintain their vigil for peace, day in and day out, no matter how dismal their situation becomes. These are the people who look into the gloom and see the foundations of light, who fail to be dissuaded from doing what is morally correct despite years of setbacks or minute gains, who show us in their words and deeds how we can turn our torments into triumphs. . . . .
"They are all great peacemakers who rise out of the ashes of conflict. From some of the most horrendous chapters in human history, these great leaders have emerged to show us a different path, proving not only that the cessation of war is possible, but that the removal of hatred and violence from our hearts is possible as well. We can have peace not merely between nations, but also in our streets and in our homes. They rebuke the pundits not simply with academic theories but with hard-fought actions waged in the front lines of the world's most troubled regions. In short, they show us that the promise of peace remains intact, and so does our enormous potential to achieve it."
In this illuminating work, Hunt presents his interviews with Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese freedom fighter who is sometimes called the world's leading dissident; the inimitable Dalai Lama; Thich Quang Do, a Buddhist monk who has spent years in prison for advocating freedom of worship in Vietnam; Costa Rica's Oscar Arias, 1987 recipient of Nobel Peace Prize; Maha Ghosananda, who has been called the "Gandhi of Cambodia"; Dr. Jane Goodall, the scientist and humanitarian who over the years has taken her message of harmonious living around the world; and three articulate peacemakers from the besieged Israel and Palestine.
Reading these interviews and learning more about the savagery of war, violence, and hatred; it becomes ever more clear that we must all become living incarnations of peace in our homes and workplaces. All the world's spiritual traditions challenge us to practice love and compassion. This inspirational work draws out our connections with all those who suffer while it nurtures within us the spirit of nonviolence. The heroic figures profiled here open us to the good that is within us. Their stories give us reason to hope that some day peace will emanate from every heart.