A deep look at our perilous times, how we arrived here and how to live ethically and joyously by changing our interior lives.
With a surprising balance between alarm and hope, Burgess presents what he sees as the only option for our survival as a species–the creation of a nonviolent society. Progress depends on knowledge of the past, and he details our advancement to this point of collapse in terms of resource consumption, population growth, nuclear weapons, dependence upon fossil fuels and genetic engineering of the food supply. All these forces may be traced to a choice of violence, in the sense of imposing one’s will upon another. Rooted in Buddhist thought and practice and drawing upon historical figures like Thomas Merton, Gandhi and Dr. King, the book posits the power of internal, individual change as the most efficacious way to adjust the tragic trajectory of our human path. This path of societal violence is reflected in the individual, when viewed though the attachment theory of child development and the impact of birth trauma. While intriguing theories, Burgess often repeats and reviews these assumptions to the detriment of the work as a whole. He makes the elegant and radical claim that violence now threatens our capacity to replicate and evolve, making nonviolence the natural choice in order to survive, but does not provide sufficient proof or take into account the reluctance of those in power to change a system they benefit from. Civilization’s hope relies on a great number of thoughtful, aware individuals who are willing to make a long-term commitment to change. The author’s references to meme theory, evolutionary algorithms and power hierarchies fascinate, yet frequently dilute his main message–that a solution lies in adult therapy, skillful parenting, meditation practice, the articulation of alternatives and modeling.
An insightful, fresh and sometimes ponderous view of the potential for a nonviolent world.