white International Society for Individual Liberty > Book Review: "Healing Our World"
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Healing Our World

Healing Our World in an
Age of Aggression

by Mary J Ruwart
SunStar, 2003, paper, 435 pp.

Free-Market.net's Book of the Month
A review by Sunni Maravillosa

     "Liberals just can't be brought to libertarianism." I've lost count of how many times I've read or heard this assertion over the years. And it's just as absurd every time I've seen it, no matter how it's been presented.

     Now, it's true that many libertarians find more common ground among conservatives than liberals, but I know of many who've made the transition from leftist to pro-freedom – I even helped bring along a chap whose grandfather was a good Soviet Communist Party member, and whose father was an American communist. It can be difficult for those who are more comfortable with logic and analysis to try to sway someone who values emotions and feelings. Fortunately, freedom lovers now have a potent weapon that ought to work well at persuading statists of either stripe.

     That weapon is Mary Ruwart's third edition of her book, Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression. Calling it a third edition really doesn't do the book justice, however. It's completely reworked from the previously published Healing Our World, and offers an annihilation of just about every justification for the state that's ever been claimed. The annihilation is so thoughtful and gentle that those swayed by emotion likely won't notice their sacred oxen being gored. It's also so thoroughly reasoned that those persuaded by logic will find little to quibble about.

     Ruwart begins with a purely libertarian idea – the non-aggression principle – and presents it as the "Good Neighbor Policy". She shows how it can be applied in the gamut of human interactions, through cogent examples, clear text, and pointed cartoons. Sprinkled throughout the book, my favorite cartoons are the ones that label an individual's aggressive action as "illegal", but when the "Guns of Government" get involved, the activity is "legal". These cartoons ought to be digitized (if they aren't already) and widely distributed.

     Organized into five sections, with headers taken from the Lord's Prayer, Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression covers the spectrum of important issues, from poverty to health care, from fractional reserve banking to international economics and militarism. Throughout, in clear, measured language that is neither condescending nor dumbed down, Ruwart shows how violations of the Good Neighbor Policy cause problems.

     While the message is clearly anarchist to those familiar with the freedom philosophy, Ruwart avoids all such scary-sounding terms and focuses on her message: what the state does is bad. Of course, that means that the state itself is bad, but because that's a scary idea to those who believe government is here to help us, it's left to the reader to make that inference. While some may fault Ruwart for pulling back, it seems rather a very smart strategy. Not everyone will be ready to accept that conclusion, despite its truth, and to force an unwilling reader is to possibly close a mind.

     Besides, it leaves us foot soldiers plenty of room to help individuals see that Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression is all about freedom. And that's what we ought to do. Clearly and beautifully, Mary Ruwart puts a very human face and a positive tone on libertarianism. Without compromising a single principle, or muddling or backpedaling on any issue, she presents the whole of the freedom philosophy in a way that can reach any thinking, caring person. Although geared toward American society and laws, its message is nonetheless applicable worldwide.

     If you buy any freedom-oriented book to share with nonlibertarians in hopes of persuading them, buy Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression. If Ruwart's clear, gentle prose doesn't work, the wide-ranging quotations liberally sprinkled throughout the margins will at least get people thinking. And, if there is any justice in this world, Mary Ruwart will one day be recognized as the preeminent ambassador of peace and liberty of our time.


Order Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression from the ISIL Store for $19.95 + $5.00 shipping & handling ($10 overseas air).

Healing Our World Mary J. Ruwart received her B.S. in biochemistry (1970) and Ph.D. in biophysics (1974) from Michigan State University. She left her position as Assistant Professor of Surgery at St. Louis University Medical School to join the Upjohn Co., where she was senior research scientist for the next 19 years.
     Currently Dr. Ruwart holds an adjunct faculty position at the Union Institute, Cincinnati, Ohio and teaches communications courses to research scientists throughout the USA.
     An influential member of her local community, Dr. Ruwart has worked extensively with the disadvantaged through rehabilitation of low-income housing. She has been a member of the Kalamazoo Rain Forest Action Committee, served on the board of directors for the Heartland Institute's Michigan chapter, and been a member of the Libertarian Party National Committee. Currently, Dr. Ruwart serves on the board of directors of the Fully Informed Jury Association and the International Society for Individual Liberty. Her scientific, political, and community activities have been profiled in several prestigious biographical works, including American Men and Women of Science, World's Who's Who of Women, International Leaders in Achievement, and Community Leaders of America.



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