Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Peace is the Way by Deepak Chopra

My feelings about the book Peace is the Way: Bringing War and Violence to an End by Deepak Chopra are mixed. I thought the first several chapter were well written and persuasive. They describe how war is a chosen path that never leads where leaders promise it will, how defining an opponent as enemy makes peace impossible, and how militarization leads to less security. The chapter “Beyond Toxic Nationalism” is particularly interesting; Chopra suggests we need to identify with our adversaries to find common ground and learn to consider them as equals.

I felt lost the middle part of the book. I know the author’s premise is that societal and political peace will not come until a majority of individuals embrace a personal spirit of peace, so the chapters on psychological health and preparing the individual for peace are important in his viewpoint. As a reader who avoids self-help books, I was impatient with this section. Some great quotes kept me reading, but I felt less involved. It was here that I realized Chopra’s concern is spirituality, while I was looking for philosophical and ethical arguements.

In the final chapter of Peace is the Way, Chopra states that we must maintain hope for peace. This echoes his assertion early in the book that most people support war only because they are told it will lead to peace eventually. He says that many young people have to be convinced by their leaders to overcome their aversion to violence when becoming soldiers. Some never fire their weapons until they are persuaded that other people are the enemy and less worthy of life and that the enemy is threatening them. To this end, much of our media, many of our schools and churches, and our government teach the lie that we are different from our enemies. Chopra’s hope is based on the underlying goodness in people who will embrace peace when they see the truth. He is an optimist.

With so many books on war in our libraries, it is good to add one about peace.

Chopra, Deepak. Peace is the Way: Bringing War and Violence to an End. New York: Harmony Books, 2005. ISBN 0307236072

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