That so many leaders (and their followers) could, in this 21st-century world, still see state-sanctioned violence - including war - as a "solution" to human problems and conflict is nothing short of tragic. This is something I also wrote about at length in Seeking the Sacred and I, too, feel very deeply about it. In fact, I have come to think that peace making is our most fundamental challenge because it depends so entirely on how we see "others", value their lives...and also see our own lives and values. What we are facing, and what Anne so powerfully and directly addresses, is nothing short of a crisis in consciousness, shaping and affecting countless other private actions and public policies.
Anne is a great story-teller, a very natural communicator and the book is immensely engaging to read as well as persuasive. She has decades of experience to call upon as well as vast writing experience and does this with exceptional skill, never overloading us with too much detail but nonetheless bringing some key situations in her lifetime vividly to life. The subtitle of her book is "Reflections on peace and war from an unconventional woman". Anne Deveson is unconventional. But I hope and pray that her views will become mainstream in our lifetimes. When it comes to peace and war, a radical change in thinking is urgently needed. Waging Peace can be read at so many levels. What matters, is that it is read.
You will find my video review of Anne's book in this month's video, and also of another quite different book that brings our attention not only to the devastation that violence causes but to how more intelligent re-thinking - and plain common sense and compassion - could save us from so many of these travesties.
A Double Spring: A year of tragedy, grief and loss. Juliet and Anne share a strange link too in that Anne's best-known book, Tell me I'm here, described the years of her gentle son Jonathan's loss of mental and emotional health (and then his life) to schizophrenia. In Double Spring, Juliet is also describing the devastation caused by mental illness, but in a far more tragic and sometimes horrifying way. Her partner, well-known Sydney art curator Nick Waterlow, was murdered two years or so ago by his mentally ill, violent son, along with Nick's daughter, Chloe. Chloe's children were also wounded in the savage attack. What is inescapable in these pages is that the reverberations of that day will continue until the end of the survivors' lives - and those who love them.
|Juliet Darling Photo: Jane Campion|
|Nick Waterlow, beloved partner of Juliet Darling|
This is controversial, but if we take it as a basic human right that each of us has a right to safety - and both these books implicitly argue that - then a severely mentally ill person's "right" to choose not to be treated must surely be secondary to the "right" to safety of those around them, and especially for those who persist in loving them. Juliet Darling must have required huge courage to write her book. It is intimate, sometimes lyrical, and also fiercely determined. With this book, too, I hope and pray that decision makers will read it. A a memorial to a great love and a great loss, it deserves nothing less.
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