Are We Done Fighting Yet?

Book Review by Linda Hill

When I was growing up in the 1950’s, my parents and grandparents taught me that it was important to remember WW1 and WW2 on Nov 11 so that we would never fight again. Much as I loved learning from my elders, I became quite skeptical about Remembrance Day during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960’s. Remembering past wars has never seemed to me to be an effective way of stopping them.

“Are We Done Fighting Yet?” by Matthew Legge prods us to shift from remembering and pondering war, hate and division and take action to develop the courage and the skills involved in loving life.

Matthew is on a book tour through the West Coast of Canada from November 10 to 24, 2019. Scroll down to the end of the article for the dates, times and places he will be visiting.

When I read Matthew’s book, I found myself feeling right at home with a book about building skills for making peace go viral.  Although he calls the skills by different names, the actions involved in expanding our capacity to be peace-builders  are the same skills learned and practiced by Inclusive Leaders and are based on the same interdisciplinary fields of research in psychology, community-development, peace-building and qualitative Participatory Action Research. Here is what I mean about the similarities between the skills for doing away with fighting and Inclusive Leadership skills:

  • Shifting from power-over to power-within are the skills Inclusive Leaders call “Building Bridges to Equality.”
  • The communication skills Matthew teaches are the same skills for communicating with compassion that are taught by compassionate leaders around the world.
  • Matthew’s chapters on interpersonal peace and inner peace are the skills that Inclusive Leaders call ‘Connecting with Differences.”
  • When Matthew talks about safety, what to do when hate rises, and structural peace, he is describing the active witnessing and ally skills described in Inclusive Leadership as “Anti-Discrimination First Aid.”

So why should Inclusive Leaders everywhere read this book that covers many things we already know and most of the skills we already practice? There are at least three reasons Inclusive Leaders everywhere should read Matthew’s book.

Let’s read this book for the stories. We meet Congolese Peace Worker, Zawadi Nikuze who advises us that smiling is a powerful peace-building tool. We participate in a Healing and Rebuilding our Communities Workshop in Rwanda where Beatrice Mukayiranga shares her story of finding the power within to forgive. We spend time with the Bear Clan Patrol – 500 Anti-Discrimination First Aid Responders working to de-escalate and transform conflicts on the streets of Winnipeg Canada. Matthew is a powerful narrator who is able to bring what he is teaching to life through each story he tells.

Let’s read this  book for the research. Matthew combines his on-the-ground work as a Quaker Peace Program Coordinator with methodical research into alternatives to violence and what works to make these skills for peace-building go viral.

Let’s read this book in groups. I encourage you to get together with a group of friends, colleagues, students and form an “Are We Done Fighting?” study and practice group. Matthew’s book is filled with experiential education and reflection activities from journaling, to role play. to heart-to-heart discussion exercises, to community-based research. There are six months worth of skills to learn and practice and turn into action.

Matthew asks many questions throughout his book. Here are his questions from his final chapter on Peace Education.

  1. If your peacebuilding dream came true, in 10 years what would your life look like and what would you be doing?
  2. Who has helped you the most to gain the peace skills you have today?
  3. What kind of legacy would you love to leave?