Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Packing a punch, nonviolently — interview with Raymond Huber

This time next week I'll be winging my way to Dunedin for the launch of Raymond Huber's Peace Warriors, a book that packs a nonviolent punch. He wrote it with intermediate-aged children in mind, but in fact it's a though-provoking anecdotal handbook for anyone wanting to zest up their thinking on this salient topic: the making of peace and the ending of violence and war.

Mākaro Press have made a beautiful job of the hard copy publication and Rosa Mira is privileged to be converting their book to digital. I asked Raymond a few questions.

What was the initial inspiration for Peace Warriors? As a child I loved stories about humble heroes (such as Hobbits) facing great evil. The idea for a book of true stories about non-violent resistance came after reading We Will Not Cease by Archibald Baxter. I was amazed I’d never come across this inspiring story when I was a teacher – there were children’s books about war heroes but none about peace heroes. I discovered many exciting stories of peaceful resistance in wartime, during dictatorships, and of people-power movements.

Do you have a favourite story from the book? It’s those electrifying moments when brute force is dumbfounded by love: the Jewish children hidden under the noses of the Nazis; Maori girls stopping the army with skipping ropes; helicopter gunships grounded by Filipino people power; the Chinese man with grocery bags halting a column of tanks.
 

Peace Warrior Raymond Huber has now and then been mistaken for Tintin. Image by Hugh Todd who was once cartoonist for the ODT.
Did you find common themes in the lives of the people you interviewed or researched? Yes. They were mostly ‘ordinary’ people who took a stand against oppression; they all had a fierce determination to see things through; and they believed, as one said, that ‘it matters what every single one of us does’.

Has working on the book altered the way you see the world? I have more hope for the future when I read about people who’ve stood up to dictators; and see that people-power campaigns have been more successful than military solutions.

What would be the best possible outcome of having your book out in the world? That it would encourage young readers to debate war and peace, and realise that violence is not the greatest human force in the world. That our government would champion non-violent conflict resolution and welcome more refugees here.

Do you want to mention anybody involved in the publishing process? A grant from Quaker Peace and Service Aoteraoa kept the project alive (after several rejections) until Mary McCallum (Mākaro Press) embraced the book.  I’m very grateful to author David Hill for his encouraging endorsement. I love the ‘handbook’ style design by Paul Stewart and the cover by Hugh Todd which expresses the essence of a Peace Warrior. About $1.25 from each sale goes to Oxfam NZ who are active in peace-making and disarmament issues. This donation is an important part of the ‘people power’ spirit of the book, that every small act contributes to change.

Cover image and design by Hugh Todd (yes, my brother)

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