This is a sober and sensible book. It is full of fascinating
facts. It is about the most important question humanity faces:
If humanity cannot survive, it cannot do anything else.
There are thousands of books, many think tanks, dozens of academic journals, and many university programs devoted to answering questions about peace and justice, and even more devoted to answering questions about peace and security. If the survival of the species could have been assured by spending millions on national security research, and by spending billions on armaments, we would be safe by now.
As it is, peace is still an unsolved problem. It is still not known whether moral progress, of the kind Sanderson Beck chronicles in this book, will catch up with and pull ahead of technical progress in inventing clever ways to kill people. It is still not known whether humanity will destroy itself, or whether it will destroy the ecosphere and therefore indirectly destroy itself by destroying its habitat. In spite of the enormous resources mainstream social science and the
national security establishment have devoted to the problem, peace has come no closer.
Sanderson Beck takes a different approach.
Unlike, for example, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, which stated in its first number that it would bring the powerful engine of social science to bear on the greatest problem of our time, the problem of getting rid of war, Beck begins with ancient wisdom. He continues with accounts of what great peacemakers have actually done.
In a sober and sensible way, Beck describes the ideas and principles that have in fact guided work for peace.
Beck agrees with Gandhi. Love is the law of the human species. Without love the human species would have perished long ago. Beck agrees with Martin Luther King Jr.'s views on the relationship of peace to justice. As King wrote in his doctoral dissertation, following the theologian Paul Tillich, it is love that is the primary reality. Justice is an activity of love. The rules of justice ought to be revised and reworked to serve what King called the principle of principles: if you cannot find the beloved community, create it.
In this book Beck patiently summarizes the stories of people through the ages and recently who have worked for peace. For the most part they are people who have understood that a moral order can only be built on respect and justice with a foundation of love.
Beck tells the real story of peacemaking, what has actually happened. From it peacemakers now can learn from peacemakers from the distant and recent past.
Many people do not want to hear the real story of peace. They want to believe that it is possible to keep their privileges and still enjoy peace. They want to believe that with enough weapons and enough expertise they can get security without sharing wealth. Millions on research and billions on armaments are spent to avoid the truth. There is no peace without justice. There is no justice without love. Sanderson Beck has managed to live a life of quiet and conscientious peace scholarship without being bought off by any moneyed interest. He has no funding from the United States Institute of Peace. He has no funding from any foundation, or from any government agency, or from any university, or from any wealthy individual. He has no funding at all. He lives in one room with his books and his computer, and quietly writes book after book on the wisdom of the ages and the building of peace. He has no paymaster to please.
Sanderson Beck's work has little to do with mainstream social science in America today. It has much to do with the mainstream of human civilization as it has developed throughout the planet for thousands of years.
This is a book for people who seriously desire to contribute to building peace in the world.
Professor of Peace and Global Studies