Peace can be characterized as a state of harmony and tranquility among people and groups.
But it is much more than a definition. It is an understanding and a connection to people who you may not know. It involves not only the mind, but the heart as well. It is contagious, but not when forced upon people. It requires courage and sacrifice.
Friday was the International Day of Peace. This is a day of nonviolence, when the entire world should cease fire. There were many events that took place all over the world including vigils, meditations, prayers and peace walks.
In the U.S., Peace Action Cleveland had a prayer and meditation for 45 minutes at the Gandhi statue in the Indian Cultural Garden of Rockefeller Park beginning at 6:30 a.m.
According to Peaceactioncleveland.org, “Peace Action Cleveland is the nation’s largest grassroots peace organization. Peace Action’s mission is “to reduce the threat of violence, war and terrorism by working through peaceful, just and democratic means.”
Students can voice their concerns with this group as well. An affiliate of this organization is the Student Peace Action Network, which organizes college and high school students to work together in order to help spread peace too.
In Cleveland, the 2007 Peace Show, a festival of peace groups in celebration of peace work and peace-making, was held downtown on Labor Day in honor of the International Peace Day.
John Carroll University Associate Professor of English, Philip Metres even wrote a short blog about it. “The Peace Show has been a Cleveland event since 2002 and began as a response to the Air Show, which members of the Catholic Worker and other radical pacifist groups had been picketing as a celebration of militarism.”
“The idea of the Peace Show was to move beyond the negativism of protest to a celebration of what we believe. One of the many activities and entertainments is a mainstage of music, rap and poetry.”
When asked what he thinks about having a day set aside in order to celebrate peace all over the world, JCU Director of the Program in Applied Ethics, Paul Lauritzen responded, “Efforts like this are largely symbolic, but they are nevertheless very important. Symbols are often vehicles for expressing our deepest hopes and aspirations. Affirming a commitment to peace in ways small and large is significant and can be transformative.”
It doesn’t have to be the International Day of Peace to advocate peace and justice. People support this cause every day and some of them do it without even realizing it. Even by doing something as simple as praying for someone or volunteering at a homeless shelter, people can spread peace. Everyone has the ability to help.
According to Lauritzen, “I try to do my part through my research and writing. For example, I have co-edited a volume on using experiential narratives, fictional literature, theater, poetry and other forms of humanistic work in human rights education.”
Peace is very symbolic. It has several meanings across the world. Here in America, the symbol for peace is a white dove.
In Christianity, the dove is usually seen with an olive branch. According to the Bible, Noah sent a dove to find land after the Great Flood. The dove came back with an olive branch, meaning he had found land. This symbolized God ending the war between him and the people.
According to the Web site Designboom.com, it was also used in art with famous painters such as Pablo Picasso. He used the dove to create a design for the International Peace Conference in 1949 in France.
Another very recognizable symbol of peace is the white crane. This symbol started in Asia along with several legends behind it. The crane became especially significant to Japan after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.
It is also said that if one folds one thousand paper cranes, their wish will come true because it is believed that cranes can live for 1,000 years. Also, cranes mate for life, so many Asian weddings use cranes as decorations. Now, the peace symbol of a crane is even popular in America, too.
Everyone can do something for International Day of Peace; it’s not too late. Several simple things such as folding a paper crane and giving it to someone who needs peace and hope in their life can make a difference.
Peace is not an unachievable goal. It can happen as long as people believe and take action.