Book Review: The Greatest Virtues are Peace, Unity, and Forgiveness (The Alternatives are Jihad, Revenge, and War)
Drissa Kone. 2019. The Edwin Mellen Press, Ltd.Lewiston, NY
By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – The book The Greatest Virtues are Peace, Unity, and Forgiveness (The Alternatives are Jihad, Revenge, and War) is a relevant contribution to the living literature of peace building through Interfaith and Ecumenism. This book by Dr. Drissa Kone is truly an inspiration.
Kone, an assistant professor at the Unification Theological Seminary, migrated to the US in order to flee from the political unrest in his native Ivory Coast and eventually established a family in New York. He earned his PhD in Peace and Justice from the UTS.
In this book, Kone articulated that peace and unity are achievable, and that it begins with the individual who has an ear that listens and a heart that forgives.
Kone’s personal account of the political upheaval in Ivory Coast was like watching a war movie: his arrest and incarceration and spiritual transformation. Snappy and written in a straightforward and humble manner, I did not put the book down.
The book advances from his personal experience into a global and introspective approach of looking at conflicts. Pointing out that disintegration of families, racial discrimination, and large-scale wars are an “integral part of human condition”, he offers a solution to end conflict through a “self-transformative approach.”
Using his personal experiences in contextualizing family, community, and national conflicts, Kone has given a human face of how one can deal with the various challenges these situations present.
He underscores both the self and the collective responsibility as the requirement to “engrave in human consciousness of unity, forgiveness, and peace.” Beyond the rhetoric of these virtues, Kone postulates that a mechanism can actually be created in order to address conflict, even before it gets off-hand or out of control.
Education, he argues, is the tool for achieving unity and peace. “We should consider a model of education that trains the whole person – mind, body, heart, and spirit – to produce emotionally healthy and balanced leaders in all sectors of society.”
Kone criticizes the western education system as having focused mainly on the development of the logical or intellectual mind. The intuitive and emotional dimensions have largely been left out and thus undeveloped.
“Human beings should not be reduced only to the logical mind. They are also emotional, intuitive, and spiritual beings. Unless the educational system takes the whole person into account, we mostly end up with unbalanced people leading the world.” (Kone, p.13)
Kone also mentions in his book the need for a collective consciousness for the appreciation of diverse cultures of the post-modern world, as well as the breaking free from colonial mentality. Citing Jamaican Reggae singer Bob Marley, Kone reiterates the call for Africans and African-Americans to emancipate themselves from “mental slavery.”
The forgiveness aspect of achieving peace is radically mentioned in the book. The challenge on rooting out the cause of conflict and dealing with people with emotional maturity are two requisites that may seem doable. But the third, which is being forgiving and transforming enemies into friends, remain the steepest challenge.
l’d recommend this book for good reading. It appeals to individuals to take personal responsibility in order to achieve peace, inner peace and world peace.
For sure the book casts away the idealism of peace, for it presents a rudimentary approach on how the mind and heart can be trained to be wired at peace building. The culture of peace and unity is achieved with the learned skills of listening and forgiving.