You Can’t Tell a Peacemaker…

…without a guidebook

The good news as 2013 opens is that peacemakers are front-page news around the world. Throughout 2013, Americans will hear about abolitionists who pushed to end slavery 150 years ago—including some names most of us won’t immediately recognize. Right now, South America is abuzz with news that the murderers of Chilean folk singer and human-rights activist Victor Jara may be brought to justice after four decades.

FOR THE INSPIRING STORIES BEHIND THE NEWS:  As vendors shout at sports events: “You can’t tell a player without a program!” Get a copy of Daniel Buttry’s Blessed Are the Peacemakers, a guide packed with stories about more than 100 peacemakers circling the globe. Blessed Are the Peacemakers includes both an uplifting profile of Victor Jara’s contributions to peace before his martyrdom—as well as stories about abolitionists and contemporary civil rights heroes in the U.S.


NEW YORK TIMES: Pascale Bonnefoy, writing in the New York Times: SANTIAGO, Chile—Eight retired army officers were charged with the murder of a popular songwriter and theater director, Víctor Jara, who was tortured and killed days after the 1973 military coup in a stadium that had been turned into a detention center.

CNN: Mariano Castillo, reporting for CNN, produced one of Google-News’s most-cited stories, describing Jara as: a cultural ambassador for socialist President Salvador Allende who was detained immediately after a September 11, 1973, military coup. His body, with signs of torture and 44 bullet wounds, was found days later in an abandoned field. His is considered one of the most emblematic deaths of the political repression that followed the coup. “Victor Jara was a symbol, he was a cultural, political and social icon,” Nelson Caucoto, a human rights attorney representing the singer’s family, told CNN Chile. “He was the embodiment of a process of change headed by President Allende.”

BBC: This late-December 2012 news comes as part of a wide-reaching series of investigations into what happened during the violent military coup four decades ago. In 2011, BBC News reporter Gideon Long reported on new investigations into the deaths of Allende as well as poet Pablo Neruda. Long’s story begins: They were towering figures in 20th Century Chile: Salvador Allende and Pablo Neruda, the president and the poet, two men united in life by their left-wing politics, and divided in death by a matter of days. For years, Chileans have been taught that Mr Allende committed suicide during the military coup of 11 September, 1973, and that Mr Neruda died 12 days later of heart failure brought on by prostate cancer. But now, both deaths are under investigation. In both cases, the Chilean military stands accused of murder and the country’s former dictator General Augusto Pinochet is once again in the metaphorical dock.


As Daniel Buttry points out in in his book, peacemaking is global good news—often heroically achieved even in the face of terrible violence—but peacemaking also is a practice you can develop close to home. One way is to schedule a small-group discussion of Blessed Are the Peacemakers in 2013. The book is appropriate for congregations, schools, nonprofit groups or library book clubs.


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