Peaceful Heros

Peaceful Heros by Jonah Winter

The cruelty of those who oppress the poor and ethnic minorities is only matched by their cowardice. Of these heroes of peace, especially the well known ones, many were murdered by the powers that be for daring to preach and act upon belief in humanity. The outstanding example, Jesus of Nazareth, dared to assert that all humans are of equal worth. That he added "in the sight of God" did not spare him the Roman version of the hangman's rope. How could a slave be of equal worth to Caesar and even claim the same human rights? It was rank sedition. Gandhi – murdered; Martin Luther King – murdered. Archbishop Romero – murdered; Aung San incarcerated.

All these remarkable and courageous – some might say foolhardy, in view of the risks they were taking – heroes are noted for their overriding love of their fellows. Their stories are so moving that I defy any sensistive person to read these stories and not get a lump in the throat if not to weep.

We are persuaded to believe that "human nature" is essentially selfish. But though we may live in an "elbow society", there is plenty of evidence that individuals can resist the siren call of self first. And the people featured here are just a few examples of a very different aspect of that same nature.

We have Jesus and the others mentioned above, championing the poor, defying racial discrimination, demanding political rights. Other lesser known heroes were Sojourner Truth who preceded King in the struggle for emancipation; Corrie ten Boom, who hid Jews in her home during the frightful Nazi period; Ginetta Sagan who stood up to Mussolini; Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Muslim defending his Pushtun people in the North-west Frontier region of India, against the British colonialists; Paul Rusesabagina, a hotelier in Rwanda, refusing to murder Tutsis at the behest of his Hutu leaders, protected them instead, using his hotel as a refuge. And there were many more.

Dry your tears, dear reader, and go out into the world and take courage from their example. It is extremely important that all our future citizens should be made aware that there is an alternative to the rat race. They are human beings, first and foremost. This book will encourage them to behave like one.