Enough Blood Shed: 101 Solutions to Violence, Terror and War
by Mary-Wynne Ashford with Guy Dauncey
Published by New Society Publishing
288 pages, 2006
Struggling For Balance
Reviewed by Cherie Thiessen
I circled this book cautiously several times before I read. I had just watched the evening news; did I need another reason to feel depressed? Did I want to be made to feel guilty for not doing more? Did I want to feel like a student again, sitting down with highlighter and notebook? This book felt way too much like potential work.
I picked it up, however, because I had heard Dauncey give one of his informative and inspirational talks. And I knew about the small publishing house and the successful husband-and-wife team who have been working diligently to publish only books that make a positive difference and encourage sustainable living. I had also heard of Dr. Ashford and her lifelong efforts for peace.
A quick look at the contents of Enough Blood Shed and a sigh of relief. This was not going to be like work at all. Do not, therefore, draw conclusions too soon. In spite of the sensational title, this is not a heavy book. The authors have gone to enormous trouble to counterbalance the seriousness of the subject matter, ensuring that the content is informative and readable. By keeping each chapter to two pages, with subheadings, photos and a sidebar of relevant Web sites, Ashford and Dauncey ensure that everyone picking up this book will find something of interest. It's extremely well done. Take the test; simply open the book.
Anyone familiar with Dauncey's work won't be surprised to discover that, in spite of the dire state of the world and the seemingly inevitable human political struggle for power and dominance, there is a cheery, predominant undertone of optimism in this book. For every negative fact, a positive one balances it; this is pure Dauncey, he's an author, speaker and consultant who has a unique, positive vision of the future. Ashford, who holds both a Ph.D. and a medical degree, and who has practiced medicine and taught at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, has been an activist for many years, speaking, writing and producing films against nuclear weapons.
Chapters like the first, "Two Superpowers: the United States and World Public Opinion," contain the essence of the premise. World Public Opinion is a superpower, and especially since the Iraq war, it has been turning against present American policy.
The book is divided into an introduction with the larger title of "What We're Facing," broken into 24 small chapters that deal with a myriad of facts, history, inspirational people and movements around the world, and suggestions and quotes: (chapters like "A Culture of Violence," "Building a Global Movement," "Oil and War," "Addressing Terrorism," "The Legacy of Gandhi," for example.) Did you notice the balance? Just when the negative may seem too overwhelming, in comes a subsequent encouraging note. Even the actions that the authors urge readers to consider can be as big or as small as each feels able to complete -- never too much.
The second section, predictably, covers those 101 Solutions mentioned in the subtitle, which are further broken down into solutions for individuals, women, youth, educators, activists, religious organizations, business, cities, nations and so forth. No matter who you are, or however insignificant you feel your contribution can be, there is an inspirational chapter for you.
The formula for the book is simple: first the authors jolt you with alarming, upsetting and distressing facts, for example, in Chapter One, by quoting the Carnegie Commission's report that for every soldier who dies in the war, ten civilians die, about half of them children. Then, while you are digesting this, they arm you with information that will make you more effective when you discuss the matter with others. They describe the parallel growth of militarism and civil society, for example, with the latter being heralded as the way of the future, a grass roots movement that puts the concerns of humanity before all else. Thirdly, they use summarizing sidebars to refresh some of the pertinent information, and lastly they inspire by giving quotes, examples and visuals to show how large the movement for humanitarian values is and to illustrate that you can be part of a large movement toward peace.
The short chapters allow readers to jump in and out of the book at will, and to digest each chapter without feeling overwhelmed. Facts and statistics are presented legibly and sparsely. Trust me, this never reads like a textbook; it is not hard work. Every library, school and university should stock it. Every parent and educator should refer to it and -- hey -- it couldn't hurt to send a copy to your politicians. | October 2006
Cherie Thiessen has been a scriptwriter, playwright, creative writing instructor and -- for the past 10 years -- a travel writer and book reviewer. She was the review columnist for Focus on Women Magazine for eight years and has also written numerous reviews for magazines including Monday Magazine, Pacific Yachting, Cottage Magazine, The Driftwood News, Linnear Reflections and Douglas College's Event Magazine.