“The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it.” ~ David Suzuki
“When you have a vision, when you know that what you are doing is good for the people, then you cannot be stopped.” ~ Wangari Maathai
“To stop any suffering, no matter how small, is a great action of peace.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Peace is not a goal to be reached but a way of life to be lived.” ~ Desmond Tutu
People of many cultures have been working for peace for thousands of years. Such people have wisdom, passion and insight that can inspire us all. The award-winning Great Peacemakers brings together the compelling stories of 20 people who have (or had) a strong commitment to living a peaceful, compassionate life and to bringing about a peaceful, just world.
The book is divided into five categories: Choosing Nonviolence, Living Peace, Honoring Diversity, Valuing All Life, and Caring for the Planet. Profiles of the peacemakers are each about five pages, and there is also a page of quotes from each person profiled.
Great Peacemakers includes several of the traditional, famous favorites, such as Gandhi, MLK, Jr., Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Lama, but it also features lesser-known peace powerhouses, such as Anderson Sa, a Brazilian musician who uses music to inspire at-risk youth to choose nonviolence; Colman McCarthy, a journalist who has taught peace courses to thousands of students; and Nader Khalili, an Iranian earth-friendly architect.
Unlike with many books focused on peacemakers, Beller and Chase extend the circle of peace to include advocates for not just people, but animals and the planet as well. The “Valuing All Life” section features Henry Salt, Albert Schweitzer, Astrid Lindgren and Jane Goodall as advocates for animal protection, and “Caring for the Planet” offers the wise words of Rachel Carson, Wangari Maathai, David Suzuki and Nader Khalili.
The stories are all inspiring and easy to read, offering just enough overview of each peacemaker’s life and work. While most of the profiles follow a chronological path, the focus of each mini-biography is on what shaped and motivated each individual to traverse a path of peace and how they’ve made a positive difference in the world. This book is appropriate for middle school students through adults, and can serve well as a book for inspiration, a springboard for discussing and exploring people who make a positive difference, or even a book club selection.