I recently spoke to a class of 4/5th graders who had read my children’s book, Claude and Medea. The book is about 12-year-old kids who are inspired by an eccentric substitute teacher (really a humane educator) to become clandestine activists in New York City.
After the children solve the mystery of a rash of Manhattan dog thefts, they establish Peace Power, a group dedicated to righting wrongs, whether to people, animals, or the earth.
When I spoke to this particular 4/5th grade, the students were confused by the name Peace Power. I asked them if they liked it. They didn’t much. They were flummoxed by the word “power.”
I’ve been pondering this. In our culture we tend to associate power with “power over” others. Those in power have control over the fate of other people, animals, the environment, the economy, the media, etc. Those who are disenfranchised, poor, disabled, etc., lack power. But power needn’t be perceived solely in this manner.
I very consciously named the youth group in Claude and Medea Peace Power because I wanted to juxtapose “peace” with “power” and remind readers that acting peacefully is a powerful act, and that groups that work for, and ultimately achieve peace demonstrate the best aspects of power. To harness this kind of power, we must summon such virtues as wisdom, compassion, integrity, honesty, and perseverance. In so doing we cultivate our power to create positive change in ourselves and in the world.
~ Zoe Weil, IHE President