Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
At the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) website, Alice Murphy interviews Eric Greitens, author of the recently-released book The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage. The book is an adaptation of Greiten’s previous book, The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL, but is aimed specifically at younger readers in an attempt to equip them with the drive and resources to begin a life of volunteering and civic engagement even now as teens and young adults.
Greitens was born and raised in Missouri and has served as a Rhodes Scholar, humanitarian volunteer, and United States Navy SEAL officer. He founded a national nonprofit organization, The Mission Continues, in 2007 to challenge veterans to serve in their communities.
Here’s an excerpt from Murphy’s interview:
Eric: The Warrior’s Heart includes more stories from my childhood and teenage years growing up in Missouri. Second, while it is meant to entertain kids, The Warrior’s Heart was also written in a way to teach them about building good character, developing virtue, and making the right decisions. One way I do this is by embedding short “You” scenarios throughout the book that allow kids to exercise their moral imagination. (For example, in one “You” scenario, they are asked to imagine solutions for dealing with a bully.) Finally, the last chapter of the book is a note directly from me to the readers, asking them to serve in their communities. By following the Mission Planning Guide (which can be found at www.ericgreitens.com), they’ll be able to do just that. [...]
Alice: What do you hope young adults take away from reading The Warrior’s Heart?
Eric: This is what I hope kids will take away from the book: The world needs you. Even at your young age, you can start serving in your community right now. You have talents, gifts, and strengths to create positive change. By taking all of your potential and developing it through service, you can become stronger, more courageous, and more compassionate.
Alice: What first inspired you to get involved in your community – to become civically engaged?
Eric: During high school, I got involved with a leadership program in my hometown. The leader of the program, Bruce Carl, knew that it was important to expose us to the needs in our community. The moment I recall realizing my passion for civic engagement was when Bruce took me and a few other students to spend the night in a homeless shelter in downtown St. Louis. In the shelter, we sipped soup from Styrofoam cups and listened to the men’s stories. As my eyes opened to the daily struggles facing these men, I reflected on my own life and the simple luxuries I took for granted. Bruce explained to us that night how the shelter was helping by providing food and shelter, but neglected to offer job training or substance abuse programs. I recognized that the world is full of need, and that it takes dedication from individuals to tackle these problems. That night in the homeless shelter solidified for me the importance of getting involved in my community. [...]
Alice: What kind of responses has your book, The Warrior’s Heart, received so far? Have you heard any memorable reactions?
Eric: The Warrior’s Heart has received great feedback so far. A few parents wrote in saying that their child stayed up all night reading the book, many who had never shown an interest in reading and rarely finished a book. It was fantastic to hear that their kids responded so well to The Warrior’s Heart. Really, that was the goal behind writing the book. I wanted to reach a younger audience who I knew could benefit from learning about the value of service and helping others. It is incredibly rewarding to hear that teens are responding to and benefitting from the stories I share in The Warrior’s Heart. To compliment the release of the book, I partnered with Youth Service America to create a Mission Planning Guide. The guide is designed to help young people plan community service projects of their own. Some kids have gotten started on projects, and I can’t wait to hear about the results. I also created a Teacher’s Guide for the book, and I’ve heard that it has been a helpful tool for parents and educators in framing discussions and activities around the book. It’s exciting to see the impact The Warrior’s Heart is making, and I look forward to hearing more from readers and their parents.
Read the whole exchange at NCoC.