New volume highlights voices for peace and nonviolence from history and the present

Author: Hannah Heinzekehr

A new book edited by David Cortright brings voices for peace and nonviolence from around the world into conversation. Truth Seekers: Voices of Peace and Nonviolence from Gandhi to Pope Francis (Orbis Books, 2020) includes seminal writings from pioneers in nonviolence including Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., labor rights activists Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, and Dorothy Day. These writings appear alongside the voices of more contemporary peacebuilding practitioners including theorist bell hooks, South African leader Desmond Tutu, nonviolent resistance researchers Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, Palestinian peace activist Jean Zaru, Pope Francis, and co-leader of the new Poor People’s Campaign, William Barber. 

Throughout, Cortright provides commentary that assists in weaving the readings together to provide an in-depth examination of nonviolent methods of addressing violence and building peace. 

Truthseekers

In his introduction to the book, Cortright, director of policy studies and the Peace Accords Matrix at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, notes that the 30 authors represented in the book hail from various religious and secular traditions and diverse locations, but they arrive at a “common conclusion about the importance of nonviolence as the means for achieving change.” 

“Some may think it naïve to produce a work on nonviolence and pacifism at a time of xenophobic nationalism and right wing politics, in a world threatened by civil war, terrorism and nuclear proliferation,” writes Cortright. “Yet it is precisely in such times of increased insecurity and danger that the quest for peace and nonviolence becomes all the more urgent.”

The selections were chosen to present a wide range of information and perspectives on the practice and principles of nonviolence in diverse contexts. Cortright hopes the book will spur further conversation and interest in nonviolent direct action as a means of addressing some of the greatest challenges facing the world today, including structural oppression, civil wars, rising populism, terrorism, and misinformation campaigns. 

In her endorsement of the book, Mary Elizabeth King, professor of peace and conflict studies at the United Nations-affiliated University for Peace and Distinguished Rothermere American Institute fellow at the University of Oxford, writes, “From Tolstoy on, we have known that beliefs in nonviolent means are not enough — action is also required. David Cortright’s depth of work has enabled him to assemble a rich volume of distinctly diverse voices that speak from immersion in nonviolent struggles, waged with an intentional grasp that how we fight for justice will affect what we are able to achieve.” 

The book is written to be accessible to both academic and lay audiences. 

Contact: David Cortright, dcortrig@nd.edu 

Originally published by Hannah Heinzekehr at kroc.nd.edu on February 20, 2020.