Actions Speak Loudest: Keeping Our Promise for a Better World
. Lyons Press, $24.95 (212pp) ISBN 978-1-59921-486-3
In this essay collection, a crowd of professionals and activists working to improve the world (including Queen Noor, Dave Eggers, Newt Gingrich, and Rachel Ray) each comment on an issue, and suggest concrete ways readers can make a difference in four arenas of action: world, country, community and home. The volume begins, ambitiously enough, with a typically spirited President Jimmy Carter addressing world peace; his list of actions include teaching children that true strength doesn't come from violence or aggression, celebrating International Day of Peace (9/21) in our communities, and ""asking your representatives the hard questions."" (""Hold them accountable for the conflicts we enter as a nation."") Some of the most absorbing essays are written by ordinary citizen-activists: Richard Castaldo, who was shot at Columbine ten years ago, suggests that readers take reporting violence, especially in schools, seriously (""Eighty percent of victimizations go unreported""). Though some accounts are instantly forgettable, the best evoke genuine outrage, such as the story told by Children's Health Fund co-founder Irwin Redlener, about a homeless eight-year-old identified as ""learning disabled"" when his real diagnosis, tragically, was an untreated cleft palate, noted but neglected at infancy. This broad primer on the world's issues, big-scale and small, works as a useful gadfly for social change, appropriate for students and any neophyte do-gooder.
Reviewed on: 10/05/2009