Book Review: Waging Peace, by David Hartsough

David Hartsough will be at the Cathedral on October 8-9. He will give a peace workshop on Saturday the 8th @ 1-4 pm; and the Sunday forum on the 9th @ 9 am.  The Rev Canon Richard Lief shares this review of Hartsough’s book.

WAGING PEACE: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist
David Hartsough with Joyce Holliday
2014 – PM Press – pp. 243

Non-violence works, if we give it a chance and are willing to promote and live it. Waging Peace is primer for all who seek peace in our war-worn and tragic world.

Author  David Hartsough, whose parents were devout Quakers, is a man with a mission – a mission to be involved where there is injustice anywhere in the world, where there is an opportunity to influence change.

In Waging Peace David shares his life’s adventure. Over the last fifty years he has led and been engaged in nonviolent peacemaking in the United States, Kosovo, the former Soviet Union, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Iran, Palestine, Israel, and many other countries.

He is the executive director of Peaceworkers in San Francisco, and has a BA from Howard University and an MA in international relations from Columbia University. He is a Quaker and a member of the San Francisco Friends Meeting.

Born in 1940, David has dedicated his whole life to be where he can make a difference. In his forward to Waging Peace, John Dear describes David: “He’s so humble, simple, and gentle that no one would know the powerful force that moves within him.”

David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, says that David’s
“…guiding stars have been peace, justice, non-violence and human dignity… He has lived his nonviolence and made it an adventure in seeking truth, as Gandhi did.”

Given Gandhi’s book, All Men are Brothers, by his parents, on his 14th or 15th birthday, Hartsough was inspired with Gandhi’s experience – that nonviolence is the most powerful force in the world and that it could be a means of struggle to liberate a country. David was 15 when he met Martin Luther King, Jr.

David’s adventures in nonviolence are engaging and inspiring in their call to nonviolent action for the betterment of everyone on the planet. He co-founded the Nonviolent Peaceforce, which is recognized by the United Nations. He has met with people in all walks of life who have shared their yearning for peace and justice. And he has met with people in power – memorably with President Kennedy who responded and acted favorably on David’s thoughtful and encouraging viewpoints.

I was captivated by David when he spoke several years ago at a conference I attended, sponsored by the San Diego Peace Resource Center. Among the many personal stories he shared, there was one that particularly inspired me. When he was 20, he was trained to participate in a lunch counter sit-in in Arlington, Virginia. It was in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement.

He had just been reading Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “Love your enemies… Do good to those who hate you” when he heard a voice behind him say, “Get out of this store in two seconds, or I am going to stab you through the heart.” The man had a terrible look of hatred on his face, and a knife one half inch from David’s heart. Did Jesus mean to include this man?

Grateful for his training of the past two days, David turned around and tried his best to smile and said, “Friend, do what you believe is right, and I will try to love you.” The man’s jaw and hand dropped, and miraculously, he turned away and walked out of the store.

Chapter 14 of Waging Peace gives practical application and encouragement. Topics include: 1) transforming our society from one addicted to violence and war to one based on justice and peace with the world; 2) a proposal for ending all war: an idea whose time has come; 3) resources for further study and action: what you can do; 4) ten lessons learned from my life of activism.

As Episcopalians we are engaged in seeking the Christ in all persons, and respecting the dignity of every human being. I am grateful that David Hartsough continues to live and promote his life of nonviolence as he seeks peace and justice world-wide. Waging Peace is a primer which deserves to be read, marked, learned and inwardly digested – and most of all, with the help of God, lived.

The Rev. Canon Richard C. Lief,
Honorary Canon
St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral
San Diego, California

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