The author, Mark Kurlansky, writes the book in narrative form teaching the 25 lessons as he goes along. His work involves studying nonviolence in several religious and cultural traditions throughout history.
The final paragraph of the 1st chapter reads:
"Though most religions shun warfare, and hold nonviolence as the only moral route toward political change, religion and its language have been co-opted by the violent people who have been governing societies. If someone were to come along who would not compromise, a rebel who insisted on taking the only moral path, rejecting violence in all its forms, such a person would seem so menacing that he would be killed, and after his death he would be canonized or deified, because a saint is less dangerous than a rebel. This has happened numerous times, but the first prominent example was a Jew named Jesus."Here are the 25 lessons that he poses through the book. Let me know what you think or if there are any that jump out at you as insightful.
- There is no proactive word for nonviolence.
- Nations that build military forces as deterrents will eventually use them.
- Practitioners of nonviolence are seen as enemies of the state.
- Once a state takes over a religion, the religion loses its nonviolent teachings.
- A rebel can be defanged and co-opted by making him a saint after he is dead.
- Somewhere behind every war there are always a few founding lies.
- A propaganda machine promoting hatred always has a war waiting in the wings.
- People who go to war start to resemble their enemy.
- A conflict between a violent and a nonviolent force is a moral argument. If the violent side can provoke the nonviolent side into violence, the violent side has won.
- The problem lies not in the nature of man but in the nature of power.
- The longer a war lasts, the less popular it becomes.
- The state imagines it is impotent without a military because it cannot conceive of power without force.
- It is often not the largest but the best organized and the most articulate group that prevails.
- All debate momentarily ends with an “enforced silence” once the first shots are fired.
- A shooting war is not necessary to overthrow an established power but is used to consolidate the revolution itself.
- Violence does not resolve. It always leads to more violence.
- Warfare produces peace activists. A group of veterans is a likely place to find peace activists.
- People motivated by fear to not act well.
- While it is perfectly feasible to convince a people faced with brutal repression to rise up in a suicidal attack on their oppressor, it is almost impossible to convince them to meet deadly violence with nonviolence resistance.
- Wars do not have to be sold to the general public if they can be carried out by an all-volunteer professional military.
- Once you start the business of killing, you just get “deeper and deeper,” without limits.
- Violence always comes with a supposedly rational explanation-which is only dismissed as irrational if the violence fails.
- Violence is a virus that infects and takes over.
- The miracle is that despite all of society’s promotion of warfare, most soldiers find warfare to be a wrenching departure from their own moral values.
- The hard work of beginning a movement to end war has already been done.