The Future of Peace: On the Front Lines with the World's Great Peacemakersby Scott A. Hunt, Ela Gandhi (Foreword by)
In this illuminating journey around the globe, Scott A. Hunt takes us face to face with true heroes including: the Dalai Lama; the famed dissident of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi; and the activist who brought peace to Latin America, Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, who share their historic struggles and show us how to find optimism in the face of anguish, and compassion
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In this illuminating journey around the globe, Scott A. Hunt takes us face to face with true heroes including: the Dalai Lama; the famed dissident of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi; and the activist who brought peace to Latin America, Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, who share their historic struggles and show us how to find optimism in the face of anguish, and compassion in the place of animosity.
What does it mean to fight for peace? From the riotous streets in Burma to a prison cell in Vietnam, from the bombed-out streets of Belfast to the refugee camps of Palestine, Scott A. Hunt travels across the globe, often under arduous conditions, to report from the major battles that shaped and continue to shape our world.
Recounting histories that were not taught in school, and uncovering lessons which may have been brushed aside, Scott A. Hunt coaxes out in intimate conversations staggering stories from Vietnam's leading dissident Thich Quang Do, famed primate specialist and humanitarian Dr. Jane Goodall, Cambodia's Supreme Patriarch Maha Ghosananda, Ireland's Nobel Peace Laureate John Hume and other great leaders who have battled to end the brutality against the people and causes they cherish.
In the end, The Future of Peace reveals what it means to remain steadfast to a vision of compassion, to be a leader, and to preserve peace in our own day-to-day lives.
The Future of Peace is an extraordinary investigation that offers far-ranging insights and invaluable lessons - a book that changes the way we think about the world and our responsibility toward one another.
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The Future of Peace
On the Front Lines with the World's Great Peacemakers
Aung San Suu Kyi:
Triumph of The Spirit
I vividly recall the scene in the film Beyond Rangoon in which a dignified woman walks confidently through a large crowd. The woman is small in physical stature yet enormous in prestige. Her supporters are cheering, waving flags, and hoisting her portrait. Her slight build, colorful dress, and gracious smile stand in marked contrast to the heavily armed, drably uniformed soldiers lurking in the shadows. Without warning, the soldiers burst from the darkness, storm into the crowd, and form a line to keep the woman from reaching a nearby stage.
The standoff is fraught with danger. The woman and her compatriots are well aware that the soldiers have a history of firing on peaceful demonstrators, and they would not hesitate to do so again in the name of public order. Yet the woman shows no hint of fear. She steps forward, waving off those who try to stop her. She advances slowly, resolutely, staring deeply into the eyes of the soldier who is pointing his rifle directly at her. The woman stands there as the symbol of freedom, face-to-face with the soldier, a symbol of violence and subjugation. Her determination and confidence begin to unsettle the soldier. He starts to tremble in confusion and fear and finally relents. The woman steps gingerly, even graciously, through the line, followed by a flood of her supporters. It is a small victory of peaceful means over aggression.
Though the scene might be Hollywood fiction, the event was quite real. It happened in the Southeast Asian nation of Burma in the late 1980s. The woman depicted is named Aung San Suu Kyi (pronounced Ong Sahn Soo Chee). Suu Kyi has become perhaps the leading political dissident in the world. Her struggle to bring freedom and justice to her country garnered her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and many other awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the United States.
When I sat down to plan my journeys, Burma was one of the places I put at the top of my list. I definitely wanted to meet Suu Kyi, but I knew that would be no easy matter. In fact, it was nearly impossible in recent years for a writer to speak with her. Journalists were rarely permitted to enter Burma. Those who were discovered inside the country were promptly detained and unceremoniously deported. The government has been terrified that Suu Kyi and her pro-democracy colleagues would gather further international support and incite a popular uprising. They have good reason to be fearful.
In March 1988 groups of university students took to the streets of Rangoon, Burma's capital, peacefully demonstrating against the totalitarian regime founded by General Ne Win in July 1962. Responding to this perceived threat, the police shot to death two hundred demonstrators. Halfway around the world, Aung San Suu Kyi, a woman of slight build with delicate features, long black hair, and extremely elegant manners, was living a normal life in Oxford, England, with her husband (an Oxford University professor) and her two sons when she received word that her mother had suffered a severe stroke. Suu Kyi immediately flew to Rangoon to be by her mother's side. She had no idea at that time that she would eventually wind up in the heart of a brewing social storm.
Burma is a country of approximately fifty million people in a land area just slightly smaller than the state of Texas. It borders the Andaman Sea in the south, Tibet in the north, Bangladesh and India in the north and northwest, Thailand in the east and southeast, and Laos and China in the east and northeast. The people are chiefly Burman (68 percent) with minority populations of Shan (9 percent), Karen (7 percent), Rakhine (4 percent), Chinese (3 percent), Mon (2 percent), Indian (2 percent), and other ethnicities (5 percent). Though the official language is Burmese, over one hundred languages are spoken in the country.
Eighty-five percent of the people are Buddhist, 4 percent are Muslim, 4 percent are Christian (mostly Baptist), and the remaining are of other faiths. The country has abundant natural resources, including petroleum, natural gas, timber, tin, coal, and precious gems.
In the sixth century the Mon settled in the Irrawaddy River delta in Lower Burma, as well as in Thailand and Cambodia. Several centuries later, when the indigenous Pyus had been vanquished by the Yunnans (from China), the Burmans descended into central Burma from the eastern Himalayan region, bringing the Burmans into direct contact with the Mon. For hundreds of years the two races fought many wars with each other, carting off captives to be used as slaves in the construction of Buddhist temples and in cultivating rice.
In 1044 the Burman king Anawratha established control over much of the country and vanquished the Mon. Anawratha established his capital at Pagan, the "city of a thousand temples," which was the seat of his dynasty until the invasion of Kublai Khan in 1287. Thereafter the country vacillated between chaos and the kingdoms of the Shan in the north (who were closely related to the Siamese) and the Mon in the south. In the sixteenth century the Taongoo dynasty firmly reestablished Burman control over the Shan and Mon.
The Mon rose up again in the eighteenth century but were crushed by the armies of Alaungpaya in 1758. Alaungpaya expanded his kingdom to include the present-day Indian territories of Assam and Manipur and areas in present-day Thailand as well. His son, Hsinbyushin, completely destroyed the ancient Thai capital of Ayuthaya and drove the Thai to Krung Thep (present-day Bangkok). Hsinbyushin also conquered Rakhine, the border region between Burma and India.
In 1824 the Burmese and the British began to spar over the borders of Assam, Rakhine, and other areas. Two years later the British forced the Burmese to cede Rakhine (cutting off Burma's coastline along the Bay of Bengal) and the coastal region of Taninthayi along the Thai border.The Future of Peace
On the Front Lines with the World's Great Peacemakers. Copyright © by Scott Hunt. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Meet the Author
Scott A. Hunt is one of the few writers in the world to have gained access to the exceptional group of peacemakers interviewed in this book. He is a graduate of Harvard University, where he studied government, specializing in political philosophy. He has written for a wide array of magazines and is currently teaching Buddhism at the University of California, Berkeley's continuing education program.
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