2 out of 4 stars
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“Dude, racism is stupid. I am black, white, and Asian. But everyone still loves me.” – A panda bear, page 62 of Art of Peace
Art of Peace by Collective Wisdom is the result of a three-year effort by DAVita, a consulting organization that is committed to “World Peace In Green World.” DAVita espouses love as the answer to the world’s woes.
The book has an introductory first page entitled "Human Race: the most advanced species in the history of the World...Are we, really?" All ensuing 130 pages contain collages of inspiring quotations from different personalities throughout history. Many of the messages are accompanied by artworks that enliven the words. DAVita explains that the images were sourced from the internet and specifically credits Google and Facebook. The book’s purpose is to “inspire current and future generations to learn from the wisest and bravest souls that walked this earth.”
Featured personalities include the following: ancient philosophers Plato and Socrates; scientists Galileo, Albert Einstein, and Marie Curie; religious leaders like the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, and Lao Tzu; singers John Lennon and Bob Marley and actress Audrey Hepburn; revered American Presidents Lincoln, Jefferson, and Roosevelt; inspiring statesman Nelson Mandela and courageous Burmese political figure Aung San Suu Kyi; martial artist Bruce Lee and boxing icon Muhammad Ali; unforgettable film characters like Morpheus of The Matrix; and even the beloved Sesame Street character Cookie Monster. All share snippets of wisdom. There are also proverbs from different ancient tribes, clever cartoons, and an interesting list of famous failures which include Walt Disney and The Beatles. The messages revolve around various themes of love - love for God, love for life, love for the truth, love for Mother Earth, love for peace - and other lofty ideals like friendship, wisdom, and freedom.
The book ends with the popular declamation piece “Invictus” about a man who is “the captain of his soul” and a psychedelic artwork with a throbbing heart inscribed with the message: “Love is powerful.” These last two pages encapsulate DAVita’s vision: Love will lead humanity to victory!
Majority of the book is dedicated to irrefutable words of wisdom that few will disagree with. Pages 78 to 114 and 124, however, deal with more contentious contemporary issues. These run the gamut from the use of solar power for energy to the legalized cultivation of the Cannabis plant for its myriad uses, the practice of Reiki and alternative medicine, the push for a vegan diet, the banning of GMOs, and the uselessness of government.
No doubt the book does not lack for inspiration. The messages are potent; that is the reason they were chosen. But that alone does not make a great book. Readers can get the same inspiration by joining Pinterest. Those with a special liking for any personality can easily google that person’s quotes and merrily gorge themselves with inspiration.
I believe the book would be better-received if it offers more than just a compilation of inspiring messages. It could include a short bio of each personality quoted in an appendix. This would bolster the reputation of the personalities and make their messages stronger. An alphabetical index of topics and themes (hashtags, in modern-day parlance) would be another good addition. Both the appendix and index would enhance the book’s usefulness, likability, and longevity.
I also noticed some obstacles to a happy reading. Some images are too bright, thereby obscuring the text. (Pages 4, 23, 28, and 29 show a few examples.) The names of the quoted personalities are not always readable as some are in very small type. (See pages 11, 33, 73, and 120 for samples.) Several pieces do not have the proper citation, risking plagiarism charges. Pages 36, 116, and 127 show blurred images. There are at least ten quotations that are used twice or thrice (e.g., Aristotle’s statement on education on pages 71 and 76; Einstein’s piece on imagination on pages 68, 69, and 73; and Socrates’ opinion on change on pages 46 and 60). I do not know whether the repetition is intentional or a failure to edit. There is also a sprinkling of minor spelling and punctuation errors on the first page, the most significant being “vain” spelled as “vane.”
I also need to mention that the book obviously supports the growing of the hemp plant and the other varieties of the Cannabis (which is popularly known as marijuana) for their variety of uses, including the industrial, medicinal and recreational. There is also a slant towards the easing up of laws prohibiting the use of illegal drugs.
I am all for spreading love to one and all, and I believe that this compilation is a worthy project. But the “medium is the message,” and in this case, the message fails to get through clearly. I give the book 2 out of 4 stars. Adding biographical sketches of the featured personalities and the index of hashtags would add a star. Ensuring that all messages are clearly readable and accompanied by the proper citations will clinch another star, as well as avoid any plagiarism issues.
Young readers must be cautioned in reading this book owing to the obvious endorsement of the Cannabis plant, the implied assent to the use of illegal drugs, and the strong anti-government sentiments. As is, this book will be appreciated most by adult readers on a recollection or retreat, working people who want to unwind at the end of the day, and those who seek the “wisdom of the ages.”
One of the interesting quotes in the book is on page 60; it is from Abe Lincoln. "I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends." That, I believe, is a succinct summary of Art of Peace.
Art of Peace by Collective Wisdom
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