Peaceful Revolution

Finished a book today, titled Peaceful Revolution.

This is a book I’ve had on my Kindle for well over a year, purchased in a thrill of finding Paul K. Chappell on social media after years of lightly asking around, something like, “Well, he’s a soldier with an interesting multiracial background, had a talk on Book TV after the Iraq War, focusing on peace, but not in a hippy dippy way?” I’d done a few searches and couldn’t remember his full name, instead coming up with someone else. So I’d, once in a while, remember to send out a searchlight again.

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I’ve been surprised that more in my circle aren’t familiar with him, when his voice on matters of peace, in the world and in ourselves, seems so unique and needed.  It was a YouTube shared on Facebook, from a friend from Hungary, living in South Africa, who I met in a virtual world, that finally gave me the missing piece. All I’d needed was the K!

😉 None of that says anything about the book, but I have come away with the impression that any of his, I think 5, books, will put forth the same core feeling and ideas, so it may be better to simply remember his name, Paul K. Chappell. He is someone whose writing casts a wide net, referencing rather well-known figures and quoting liberally, so he’s accessible, and his one-liners memorable, yet I wouldn’t call him a ‘coach’ using the distinction I made in my Permission post recently. I would call him a visionary teacher, because there is a new sort of, dimensional idea, beneath the deceptively simple lessons and charts that work well for a presentation at a high school.

Although making the case that the strong and gentle-hearted warrior ideal has been personified throughout time, I think that when you introduce a figure interpreted so differently, or lost to the current narrative for too long, the word ‘new’ can be correct.

Studying Buddhism, one of the teachers I fell in love with quickly was Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. His insights immediately resonated deeply, especially his truly daring playfulness, and questioning of given limits. However when I learned about warrior-minded practices he led the Shambhala community through, it was a puzzle. “How can we embody nonviolence in the images of violence?” It seemed so clear to me then, that what was needed was to unlearn the military way of thinking entirely.

Yet, I knew I had my own baggage, and that there was more than what I was seeing, so I left the question open.

Around this time, the Book TV talk with Paul I encountered helped me see some bridges, making a good case for folding discipline back into my thinking, including military style where appropriate, perhaps in organizing service to others, as a part of the message of greater awareness and awakening. Although this book helped to lodge this understanding more deeply, there remain some hesitations.

So I need to say that what moved my heart about Peaceful Revolution were the portions of the book about Paul’s childhood… the backstory of his life that made it extremely unlikely he would live his life as an activist to end war/ nuclear proliferation. I was struck several times by how he wrote about his tendencies toward rage, and bouts with despair, in present tense. I’m used to authors describing how they overcame their struggles (because why else do people write books these days, but to sell solutions? A friend shared a clever comic about “survivor bias” that rings true), but tears came to my eyes whenever he expressed his deeply real and ongoing uncertainty. I wanted to reach back to him to share stories from my own background in kind, but realized, this is what the book was meant to tap into. I’m sure he included such hard personal struggles with that kind of generosity, knowing what might be evoked in readers.

There are things I miss about spiritual community life, such as when people entrust their deepest fears and the stories of their darkest times to the Larger Context (Sangha, Body of Christ), as prayer. So I’ll work on articulating mine better along the way. For now though, I come away from Peaceful Revolution with practical tools and insights, and a more full sense of what is possible for peace in a practical sense.

But to be entirely honest, the real gift is to feel to have connected with a true and still aspiring human.

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