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Cultivating Peace Synopsis


This profound guidebook reframes and expands the mission of building a global culture of peace.

Going far beyond conventional techniques of conflict resolution, James O’Dea provides a holistic approach to peace work, covering its oft-ignored cultural, spiritual, and scientific dimensions.

Its guidance is suitable even for those who have never considered themselves peacebuilders.

O’Dea is unique in his ability to integrate personal experience in the world’s violent conflict zones with insights gathered from decades of work in social healing, human rights advocacy, and consciousness studies.

Following in the footsteps of Gandhi and King, O’Dea keeps the dream of peace alive by teaching us how to dissolve old wounds and reconcile our differences.

He strikes deep chords of optimism even as he shows us how to face the heart of darkness in conflict situations.

His soulful but practical voice speaks universally to peace activists, mediators, negotiators, psychologists, educators, businesspeople, and clergy-and to everyday citizens.


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.

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