Russian poet Evgeny Yevtushenko retells a childhood memory: standing with his grandmother, he watched a pathetic line of German prisoners being paraded down a Moscow street that was lined on both sides by angry Russians.
All at once I saw an elderly woman in tattered boots lay her hand on a policeman’s shoulder. “Let me through,” she said.
There must have been something about her that made him step aside.
The woman went up to the column of Germans, took something wrapped in a kerchief from inside her coat, and unfolded it. It was the heel of a loaf of black bread.
And suddenly women started running up to the soldiers from all sides, shoving bread, cigarettes, anything into their hands.
They were enemies no longer.
They were people.
This is just one story (and probably the shortest) in an anthology for children and teens, Power of Goodness. Some stories really happened, others are drawn from fiction, but all of them illustrate honesty, generosity, and nonviolence. Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is represented with an excerpt, as are real-life stories from Gaza, Chechnya, and the civil rights movement in the USA. Some stories link explicitly to biblical values.
I’ve been involved for twenty years with Friends International Library, a publishing program that began with Russian translations of Quaker writings. But this Power of Goodness project is different. The book is in three languages (English, Russian, and Chechen) and its audience is the young people of Russia’s Chechen republic. Psychologists and educators have just collaborated to produce a new teacher’s supplement for the book and to organize seminars for teachers who will use the book in Chechen classrooms. And all of the illustrations for the stories are by children.
The goal: to contribute to healing and reconciliation in that traumatized region.
For more information, visit this site: http://johanpdx.blogspot.com/2011/05/lighting-another-candle-in-dark.html
Contributed by Johan Maurer, Reedwood Friends