The Evolving Peacemaker by Leona Evans

The Evolving Peacemaker

A Commitment to Non-Violence
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A mother’s debut memoir focuses on her son and the practice of nonviolence.

The concept—the lifestyle—of nonviolence popularized by Mahatma Gandhi lies at the heart of Evans’ book. Her narrative pursues a dual course, analyzing the nature of nonviolence and underscoring this with some of the author’s own experiences and those of her teenage son, Matthew, who won an array of awards for his documentary A Quest for Peace: Nonviolence Among Religions. The film featured Arun Gandhi, the eminent leader’s grandson, who provides the Foreword for Evans’ book, in which he warns about the “dance of violence” that’s like a cancer “slowly and imperceptibly destroying our humanity.” The surprising element of this view—that the main enemy of the nonviolence philosophy is internal, not the rude external repressions of state power—is a strong theme running through Evans’ main text. The volume grapples with the interior imperatives of Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence and its foundational concept of Satyagraha, “the lifelong and active pursuit of truth.” While interspersing anecdotes about her son’s documentary and the honors he received (and including a chapter by Matthew himself) with stories from her own long career in professional musical theater, Evans pursues the deeper nature of the nonviolence worldview, stressing that the realization of inner peace is crucial to achieving any other kind of tranquility. She emphasizes education for creating a new generation that will understand nonviolence more naturally, and she helpfully advises daily meditation to “nourish the soul and provide us with much needed times of relaxation, revitalization, and an opportunity to feel a connection with the spirit of God within us.” The same inner assessment is echoed in Matthew’s appealing chapter, where he writes about the potential for transformation inside himself, “to change my perspective, pull myself out of anger and despair, and forge ahead stronger with a new outlook.” The result is a good-natured manifesto illuminating the challenges of nonviolent resistance to tyranny.

An engaging personal account of the nature and inner struggle of nonviolence.

Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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