Released on Mother’s Day and dedicated to her mother (Jane Reynolds Howard) Moral Courage is the newest novel by independent author Rhea Harmsen. It follows the indie release of The Harvest of Reason (2012), Intermarry (2013), and God Created Women (2013). Intermarry is currently among the top 100 novels in the Romance category of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.
Set against the backdrop of the 2001 Afghan war, this new story is about women, war and fundamentalism. Ranger Capt. Debbie Armbruster and Zaynab, the Afghan village girl, are the meeting of east and west. This fictional tale is meant to explore and give voice voice to women’s feelings about war.
“Women loathe war, we hate it,” Harmsen asserts. “We don’t raise our children with great care and sacrifice so that they can become severed corpses on the battlefield. We would end all wars immediately, summarily, if we could. Let us have a vote, let us have a voice, and we will tell you.”
“But we are not naïve pacifists,” she continues, “if you come for us, if you slaughter our children, we will defend ourselves, we will annihilate the threat. We have “greater moral courage in times of danger and crisis” and we can become warriors if necessary.”
Unfortunately the world does not have such clarity. There are many, many conflicts in the world and we fail to take action or to devise a strategy to get ourselves out of the quagmire of the 21st century. Pacifism under these conditions is nothing more than being a spectator in the coliseum watching innocents being fed to the lions.
As the novel intimates, through Zaynab’s often citing from her ‘secret book,’ there is a sweet panacea for international conflict. It is called collective security. Simply put, it means that any nation becoming an aggressor towards another would be opposed by all nations uniting against it in condemnation, sanctions, and the threat of military action. This would quickly delegitimize any aggressor. It is a tool so simple and elegant it is hard to understand why the international community has not begun to use it with more precision and will. Such a policy would quickly evolve into a deterrent and secure international peace.
But, as the novel also seeks to demonstrate, internal conflicts are more complex. The causes of internal conflict can be a mix of disunity, inequality and injustice. But there are also simple principles to address them: universal education, development, and the resolution of borders. Mostly, it is the unflinching implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that is needed. This supersedes national sovereignty. Once humanity adopts such a universal covenant (as we did in 1945) all nations should be held accountable for its enforcement.
Moral Courage is a small novel. It’s plot covers a few months in the lives of a handful of characters. But it has all the elements of a universal drama about war and peace. Fundamentalism, atrocities, collateral damage, friendly fire, women and men thrown into impossible situations. But mostly, it is about the coming together of the world’s women to defeat a common enemy: war. Hopefully, it will spark a global discussion of this age long topic and lead us in the direction of world peace. (Moral Courage can be found at Amazon.com ).
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GOD CREATED WOMEN $3.99
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