Power of Nonviolence Zinn-troduction: Peace Book Chapter of the Week 9/12/11

The Power of Nonviolence Writings by Advocates of PeaceThe Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace provides us with the Peace Book Chapter of the Week. You might have noticed this a slightly different concept. Duke Augustus is paring down the Book of the Week to just a chapter to make it more interactive.  We hope that you will join in a discussion of the book as we move through it together chapter-by-chapter.  Please post your thoughts, reactions, comments, corrections and additions to the comment section of each of these posts.

War is terrorism,
magnified a hundred times.

Normally, Duke Augustus would give an introduction a cursory discussion, and begin the first discussion of the book, but when the Introduction is written by the late Howard Zinn attention must be paid.  Zinn is primarily know as a historian whose best selling A People’s History of the United States is an antidote to the sanitized grade school history.  Duke Augustus is particularly partial to the graphic novel adaption, A People’s History of American Empire.  Zinn’s Introduction to The Power of Nonviolence is even more important to discuss considering that the opening lines are so amazingly timely: 

The images on television were breathtaking.  People on fire leaping to their deaths from a hundred stories up.  People in panic and fear racing from the scene in clouds of dust and smoke.  We thought that there must be thousands of human beings buried alive. but soon dead under a mountain of debris.  We imagined the terror among the passengers of the hijacked planes as they contemplated the crash. the fire, and the end.



The Introduction is titled Retaliation, and that is Zinn’s antithesis. He walks us through how historically an eye-for-an eye has left everyone blind:   Duke Augustus is reminded of one public ceremony he attended in NY metropolitan area during the weeks after 9/11.  A number of local clergy spoke.  The Monsignor is the only speaker that left an impression.  He spoke of how violence in the form of retaliation will not bring resolution or healing.  The Eisenhower Study Group has come to the same conclusion, that military solutions are the least effective responses to terrorism:

Alternatives to a Military Response to 9/11

Zinn’s conclusion echoes the words of then-President Eisenhower’s 1953 speech The Chance for Peace:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. … Is there no other way the world may live?

Zinn then previews the feast that awaits us, starting with a writing from Buddha, which will be next weeks discussion.  Zinn leads us through the historical and geographic scope of the writings chosen.  He ends with his hope for what the writings will teach:

The cry for peace in these essays is not simply a protest against war. It also presents a vision for a different world, and suggests a way to fulfill that vision.  Against the makers of war, it proposes not passivity but resistance, a resistance that, because it is nonviolent, has a unique power that is greater than the power of guns and bombs.

Another world is imperative!

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