Reviewed by Janet Pates.
This book has been described as a biography and indeed, the early pages do present the reader with a picture of the writer’s life. Gwen Francis attributes the wisdom portrayed in the book to her background in farming, teaching, sport, business and community affairs. Having trained and taught as a Home Economics teacher in her younger days, she then furthered her education later in life, with a BA majoring in World Religions and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education.
But the book is much more than a biography. Through her many years of teaching Bible In Schools, Francis came to realise that in today’s modern world, where those of differing religions, social and cultural practices are increasingly living together, people, particularly the young, need a set of common, ethical principles enabling them to live together as upright citizens in the modern world.
These principles which, Francis points out, are applicable to all the major religions of the world, are described as follows:
- Wisdom – We should be sensible.
- Justice – We should be fair.
- Truth – We should be honest.
- Love – We should be kind.
Francis goes on to examine these principles in detail, quoting the writings of various philosophers and discussing their relevance to such topics as; business ethics, the environment, democratic government, the media and multiculturalism. If this makes the book sound like a dry and dusty tome, be assured this is not the case. As it was the intention of the writer to make the work accessible to the young and to those who may not have English as their first language, the book is simply written and not overly academic. It is enlivened with such examples as the difficulties of teaching ethics, where a child might go home and say, ‘Hey Dad. That timber you said the boss would never miss. Wasn’t that stealing?’
The book was a finalist in the 2019 Mind, Body, Spirit book awards sponsored by the Ashton Wylie Charitable Trust. A long-time resident of Buckland, Gwen Francis passed away in May 2019 at the age of 94.
Janet Pates writes fiction and non-fiction for children and adults and is a member of the Franklin Writers Group. They meet every Tuesday during school terms at the Pukekohe Library. For more information contact Barbara 027 5606 777.