Donald H. DUNSON and James A. DUNSON, Citizen of the World: Suffering and Solidarity in the 21st Century. Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 2013. pp. 162. $22 pb. ISBN 978-1-62698-045-7.
Reviewed by Randall WOODARD, Saint Leo University.
Donald (Moral Theology) and James (Philosophy) Dunson combine their diverse intellectual and academic approaches to offer readers a book that will challenge and inspire. The work is focused on questions of global solidarity and poverty from theological and philosophical perspectives. Each of the six chapters offers reflections from each author engaging his own academic perspective and personal experience.
The foci of the text are questions relating to global citizenship and the possibility of employing solidarity as a key value in an ongoing discussion about the issues and problems related to various international problems. Over the six chapters, the authors discuss what it means to be a global citizen, the methods related to dialogue about solidarity and citizenship (how to carry out moral argument and the validity of appeals to emotion), the meaning and value of personal experience, what we can practically accomplish, and finally, the problems of evil and human freedom are discussed.
The only weakness that some may find with the book is that is does not attempt to offer a straightforward solution to the problems raised. It does not read as a text that tries to solve major world problems or advance one particular (partisan or otherwise) program for resolving global crises. Thus, if a teacher seeks a work that will attempt to offer clear answers to difficult and problematic international issues in a simplified package, this is not the text.
On the other hand, those interested in a book that creates discussion, asks difficult questions, forces readers to think critically about the world in which they live, and encourages us to be self-reflective about the way in which we participate in that world, this work will be significant. The authors have a unique skill in proposing very political and oftentimes hot button questions without offending or alienating readers. They deal honestly with contentious issues, rather than offering oversimplified sound bites, and use very powerful stories that derive from their own travels and experiences. Additionally, the authors combine their two fields of expertise and their two different sets of experiences to provide a very human approach that speaks to us as people called to become more involved with our brothers and sisters around the globe. Reading this book inspired me to become a better person through critical self-analysis, powerful stories and an optimism that encouraged me to become a better citizen of the world.