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Cultivating Peace Press Release

Cultivating Peace New Book Announcement

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Molly Rowan
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Cultivating Peace

Becoming a 21st-Century Peace Ambassador

James O’Dea

$15.95 • Shift Books • ISBN: 9780984840717
242 pages • Index • Bibliography
Distribution: IPG
Publication date: June 15, 2012

“This masterpiece is the finest map I know to the transformation of self and civilization.”
—Jean Houston, founder of the field of Social Artistry

“O’Dea liberates our imagination about peace; his insights enrich the field of conflict transformation.”
—Abdul Aziz Said, Professor of International Relations, American University

A Manifesto for the Emerging Culture Of Peace

A new peace movement is rising out of the hardened soil of our long planetary winter. It is evidenced by the Arab Spring and the emergence of the Occupy movement. It is reflected in the blossoming initiatives of peacebuilders everywhere to create a world without war or weapons of mass destruction. It is showing up in a myriad of conflict situations where activists are bringing parties to violence into honest dialogue. The real promise in this flowering, writes author James O’Dea in his newest book, is the emergence of a planetary culture of peace featuring systems and structures for the resolution of conflict that are rooted in a holistic understanding of the problem of violence. Doing this work requires “practice of peace” in the broadest framework possible-or what O’Dea calls cultivating peace in his acclaimed new book.

No longer is the peace movement framed solely by its opposition to war and human rights violations, he writes; it has moved on to the systemic work of creating nonviolent cultures and just and sustainable societies from the ground up. “Peace can no longer be reduced to flags, banners, and protest movements,” writes O’Dea, who worked for a decade as the director of the Washington office of Amnesty International. “The concept of peace is now much larger and more encompassing because it brings together both inner security and global security. Peace links the inner life and the whole web of life with its requirements for sustainability and equity on a global scale.”

Cultivating Peace is directed at anyone with an aspiration to make peace, but especially to what O’Dea calls the “ambassador of peace.” Such ambassadors “recognize the importance of transforming inner blockages to peace as well as those blockages in external relations, cultures, and systems that prevent peace in the world.”

The mission of O’Dea’s book is especially to train peacebuilders to become skillful in learning the art, the practice, and the science of peace while cultivating peace within themselves.

Going “Deeper In” and “Further Out” for the Sake of Peace

Cultivating Peace explains why today’s peace workers now find that disciplines such as psychology, spirituality, science, and systems theory are now at the table along with law, political science, diplomacy, and other more established approaches to social change and political negotiation.

That’s because, in part, today’s peace movement has a new imperative: to mirror the change it is looking for in the world and not to wait for others to deliver it. “Be the change” has become a central motif of the emerging peace movement, and this refers to inner transformation as well as constructing alternative cultures of peace and not waiting for others to deliver it.

Elements of this new dynamic include:

  • Integral development: inner transformation matched with a capacity to reach measurable social goals and to master daunting political challenges.
  • Cultural change: changing fundamental beliefs and addressing the cultural and structural underpinnings of violence.
  • Systemic change: a whole-systems orientation that frames the problem far more widely than the former practice of merely opposing those who instigate wars or hatred.
  • Awareness of complexity: a greater mastery of subtlety and complexity, including a deeper understanding of the science of human consciousness, which O’Dea himself gathered in his role as the president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences over many years.

A Brief Overview of Cultivating Peace

The first chapter, “Peace Is the Real Game Changer,” reminds us that a world without good cheer, humor, conviviality and laughter would not be a safe or peaceful world. Chapter 1 also looks at how our evolutionary story is being changed by emerging worldviews and a transformation of belief.

Chapter 2, “Peace and Freedom from the Inside Out,” explores worldview formation more deeply, specifically the all-important process of identification in the structuring of belief. This chapter also explores how the emerging peace ambassador learns to synchronize the inner and outer.

Chapter 3, “Expanding Your Comfort Zone,” explores the delicate balance between stretching to be more inclusive and finding comfort in your value system. Readers will also discover why peacemakers should be comfortable with conflict.

Cultivating Peace provides three chapters on peaceful communication because where possible we must learn how to skillfully engage the other:

Chapter 4, “Ending the Transmission of Wounds,” looks at how to interrupt the transmission of wounds from generation to generation. When the inherited trauma of history is submerged in a collective wound, it rises again and again to subvert peace.

Chapter 5, “Peaceful Communication: Engaged Listening,” offers a detailed review of types of listening.

Chapter 6, “Peaceful Communication: Facts, Experience, and Truth,” is central to understanding how we can move from purely legalistic frameworks of truth recovery to constructs that validate the truth of people’s experience, notably South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Chapter 7, “Peaceful Communication and Energy Mastery,” describes how we can learn to process energy for peaceful encounters with each other, including bullies of all types.

Chapter 8, “Achieving Peace through Creativity and Dialogue,” deals with the opportunities available to peace activists through different modes of dialogue, inquiry, and structured conversation. Against all odds we must learn to dialogue, or die. In a whole-systems framework we are all connected; we are all implicated.

Chapter 9, “Peace Work and Whole-Systems Shift,” shows that peace work requires addressing complex systems and exploring wholeness. “To be an ambassador of peace, you cannot be a partisan of the part; you are called to be a representative of holistic thinking and emotional and social intelligence.”

The final chapter, Chapter 10, “The 21st-Century Peace Ambassador as Evolutionary Leader,” covers a detailed list of the strengths and capacities of an evolved peace leader.

About the Author


James O’Dea is a renowned figure in international social healing who has conducted healing and reconciliation dialogues for twenty years and was director of Amnesty International’s Washington, DC, office for over ten years.

As co-director of the SocialHealing Project, his work led him to Rwanda, Israel/Palestine, and Northern Ireland.

The lead faculty of the popular “Peace Ambassador Training” hosted by the Shift Network, James is also on the extended faculty of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and is its immediate past president.

He was recently recognized as Champion of Peace, Reconciliation, and Forgiveness by the Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance.

He is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Peace Alliance.



Media coverage of James O’Dea and Cultivating Peace

KPFA/Living Room with Kris Welch

Friday, June 22nd Archive

Leading Conversations with Cheryl Esposito

The Peacemaker’s Guide to Self-Realization” (June 15, 2012)

Articles and blogs by James O’Dea.

Huffington Post:

June 18, 2012 “New Entry Qualifications for Political Life”
July 2, 2012 “Eradicating The Smell of Contempt”

Daily Good:

March 12, 2012 “An Indomitable Healing Spirit”
June 12, 2012 “Three Qualities of the New Politician”

Book cover art and author headshot

Book Cover Art
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James O’Dea’s Headshot
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