Personal Stories

Where Does the Peace Path Begin? by Andrea Kay Smith
Right Time, Right Place by Steve Klein
POWER TO THE PEOPLE by Yoko Ono Lennon
Peace Involvement by Frank Ostrowski
Peace Pole at Meditation Mount by Frances Adams Moore
Women as Peacebuilders by Afaf Stevens
We Are Divinely and Infinitely Loved! By Fred Stevens
Path to World Peace Prayer Society by Fumi Johns Stewart
Pathway to Peace for Students by Katherine Shamsid-Deen
Creating A Stress-Free Violence Free World by Mona Shah-Joshi
Mightier Than the Sword by Robert Solloway
Agreeing To Disagree by Sherri Boles-Rogers


Where Does the Peace Path Begin? by Andrea Kay Smith

     When I found myself pregnant and in the 1967 Detroit Race Riots in Michigan, I wondered how in the world I could bring a precious, innocent child into such mayhem? When my son was born in 1968 he came into a revolutionary year of change in America, and instantly became my inspiration to begin a personal path of peace. I was feeding him cereal when I heard Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed. I was bathing him when I heard Bobby Kennedy had been killed. Each time I was jarred into the awareness that it was time to take action. Although married, I ended up being a single parent and raising my son in Atlanta, Georgia with limited resources, which created hardships for both of us. He became the 1st generation of latch-key kids in a time when I was struggling to work full-time, attend college and deal with a birth defect that affected my mobility. It made me wonder how I would ever work for peace on a larger scale. Eventually I started doing small community actions like Peace Rallies during the Cold War when I formed in 1985. My son learned to stuff and stamp envelopes as I created different activities for people to attend. We did boycotts. We had letter-writing campaigns. We joined Project Peace Tree for a cultural exchange with an Atlanta Sister-City in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia (former USSR) creating colorful masks to share with our penpals. With the support of the Atlanta Peace Coalition I participated in “The Listening Project” at the Trident Submarine Base in Kings Bay, Georgia where many people did civil disobedience. When my son graduated Georgia State University I felt free to dive in full force, and started planting Peace Poles “May Peace Prevail on Earth” with accompanying gardens around the community, and giving Peace Buttons to total strangers as I rode the MARTA mass transit system. We have a vision of planting 10,000 Peace Poles in Georgia to become the “Peace State” instead of its current name, the “Peach State.” Each year we dedicate more Peace Poles to join the over 200,000 planted around the world through

     For the 1996 Summer Olympics I collaborated on the installation of the World Wall for Peace in Little Five Points in Atlanta where 2,000 people painted their vision of peace on ceramic tiles. It felt liberating to devote myself to a passion which had been seeded so many years ago, and then flourished into a Peace Center in Decatur, Georgia with a Peace Mobile and Art Gallery in a neighborhood formerly called “Little Vietnam”. The urban revitalization was successful and in 2007 I collaborated on the publication of to encourage people to walk, bike or take MARTA to see many places of peace. I remain devoted to peace and justice in a multitude of ways which benefit those who touch my life. I believe that each one of us can make a difference in our own small way beginning with inner peace, and then being open to the next step. My vision now is that one day everyone on the planet will have the basics of food and shelter. I'm willing to do my part to make that happen.

Peace Wall at Sevananda

At the World Wall for Peace in Little Five Points where 2,000 people painted their ceramic vision of peace for 1996 Summer Olympics. (left to right) Charles Black-PeaceActs (pink shirt), Carolyna Marks, WW4P originator visiting from Berkeley, CA (white t-shirt), Andrea Kay Smith-Partnerships In Peace (red hat), Jackque Warren-PeaceActs (blue hat), Gail Lash-Tourism for Peace (front row-middle)


Right Time, Right Place by Steve Klein

     I came to Atlanta in 1971 and started working for the King Center that year continuing until now. A friend who worked in Andrew Young's first congressional campaign and who did some grants work for The King Center asked me to help out with some early King Center projects. I grew up in Washington, D.C., and so I knew about the march on Washington and the “I Have a Dream” speech. But I guess I became more aware of the Civil Rights Movement a later on, during my college years in the late sixties, and began to pay more attention to what Martin Luther King, Jr. was doing. I worked in Robert F. Kennedy's California campaign and I got involved in the anti-war (Vietnam) Movement. I was in San Francisco when MLK was assassinated, and I think that's when I realized how unique he was as a nonviolent leader. I do wish I had paid more attention to his work and leadership in the early sixties.

     My work at the King Center have given me a great education about the African American freedom struggle and the worldwide human rights movement from Coretta Scott King and some of her associates in the Civil Rights Movement. I attended five colleges, and had some excellent teachers. But she was the best teacher I ever had, because she was a stickler for historical accuracy and she had such strong integrity and maturity and wisdom. She taught me a lot of invaluable life-lessons.

     Over the years, The King Center has offered a lot of nonviolence training, teaching people about Dr. King's philosophy and methods of nonviolence. More than 700 college students went through its Scholars-Internship program. Thousands more went through King Center summer workshops on nonviolence and traveling nonviolence workshops, including teachers, law enforcement officials, gang leaders, at-risk youth and many others. King Center trainers have conducted workshops in South Africa, Israel, Russia, Columbia and Haiti, as well as in the U.S. On April 4, 2008, the 40th anniversary of the assassination of MLK, The King Center co-sponsored a nonviolence training program for 2,000 high school and college students in the MLK national Historic Site.

     The King Center also has the usual the day-to-day operations -- providing accurate information about MLK and the Civil Rights Movement in response to hundreds of inquiries every week, maintaining and improving the site, which is visited by more than 650,000 every year, hosting conferences, workshops and symposia. The King Library and Archives serves scholars by appointment. The King Papers Project has published five volumes of Dr. King's papers, with nine more to come. King Center officers have frequent speaking engagements. Providing guidance and accurate information for King Holiday groups across the nation.

     After so many years with the King Center, I feel certain that the number of MLK's followers is growing every year, because people around the world are crying out for some way to put anend to war and violence, poverty and racism. Teachings of leaders like MLK, Gandhi, Cesar Chavez and a few others provide the only clear alternative to 'business as usual.'

     One of the most important vehicles for carrying forward MLK's legacy is The King Holiday. Because of it students across the nation are learning about the destructive effects of racism, bigotry and violence on the one hand, and the power of nonviolence to rectify injustice and bring people of different races and cultures together on the other. If not for the King Holiday, students in many places probably wouldn't get much exposure to this important history. If leading the movement for The King Holiday was all that Coretta Scott King did, that would be enough of a great contribution for anyone. But she did so much more for Atlanta, America, and really the world. Then on August 28, 2011 – the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington – the MLK statue on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. was to be dedicated except Hurricane Irene & the magnitude 5.8 earthquake that struck the capital forced postponement until late October when King's children, civil rights leaders, performers & politician reminded the 30,000 spectators of MLK's decades of struggle. I can still hear the words “Let Freedom Ring.”

Note: Steve raised two kids in Atlanta.


POWER TO THE PEOPLE by Yoko Ono Lennon

     We are gathering here this evening with one concern all of us have. What can we do to stop Hiroshima and Nagasaki from being repeated again to destroy the lives on this planet? This time, it will not be two cities. It will be the world. It seems the choices we have are either to blow up the planet with all its lives, or stay alive maimed, and slowly die from cancer or other unpronounceable ailments we don't have the cure for yet. Of course, there is another choice. A good one, the one we are all hoping for. But it's up to us to do something about it. There is no big powers we can count on. The governments of the world owe their very existence to the backing of powerful corporations, so, sadly, their initial allegiance will have to be to the corporations, not to the people.

     Remember Mad Cow disease? It was covered up for ten years in the United Kingdom, while people were dying from it and not knowing why. At the midst of it, a minister demonstrated on TV to show how it was safe for him and his son to eat beef. This was made as a strong gesture of assurance to the people! People were in a shock, watching that program on TV, still not wanting to believe that a minister of a powerful position may have to comply to the wishes of corporations even at the risk of endangering people's lives - and in this case, his son's. Yes. All of us are good at burying our heads in the sand.

     I've read a very interesting article a few years ago by Michael Fitzgerald called Militarism:
Fitzgerald spoke of being the son of a working class Navy man, and has realized how millions of Americans depended on the permanent war economy for their livelihoods - not limited to people in the military, but people who worked as defense contractors and their employees. "A person cannot be elected to be the President of the country, unless they are supported and voted by the military and defense Industries," he says. Therefore, "if the President does not take the nation to war, he will not be able to stay President." The article refers to the fact that Lyndon Johnson said, privately, he feared impeachment if he pulled out of Vietnam. Well, that's a hell of a statement. If some people immediately wished to bury their heads in the sand again, I understood why.

     Most recently, last week, to be exact, the State of Arizona shocked the world by announcing a new law, which seemed predictably, to point to a very grave future of this country, and for the people who are still holding on to the American dream. The American dream once was a dream for all world citizens. And this announcement from Arizona confirmed the worst to us. John Cory immediately hit back with a strong article called "STORY IN SIX WORDS." . He mentioned that there was a legend that a colleague once bet Hemingway he could not write a story in ten words or less. Hemingway used six: "For sale. Baby shoes. Never used." John Cory wrote his own six words at the end of his article: "For sale - By owner - American Dream." But, when it was at the darkest, something incredible happened. Our dream was not over yet! It took such a sad situation for people of America to stand up. But we did. An ocean of people protested Arizona's new law on May Day in every American city right after the law was announced. One light, a big one, was lit in the world of darkness. Now we know where we are going - towards the light, together. No more burying our heads in the sand! In such a historical moment, it is very important that the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki be brought up again as a reminder of what can happen to the world if we forget, and fall back to the world of darkness.

     Mayors of the World, Thank you for being here in this room, at this very historical moment in America, to encourage and inspire all of us - that we can do it! What the big power of the government can't do, we can. We of this planet are still in our embryonic stage. But with your efforts and the strong wishes of the people of the world, I know we can and we will create a peaceful world for ourselves and for this planet. One day, not too far in the future, we will see ourselves living peacefully and having fun together on this planet without War. Let's look forward to that day and start working intelligently, to make it happen. Clearly, if the whole world stood up and spoke out for World Peace, we'll get it.

     Please pass my message to the people of your towns and the cities - I say to them that we can do it. We can do it together. With your help, with the help of the mayors of the world, our voice will be made still stronger. We are the Family of Peace. Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you again, for your wisdom and courage to speak out as the Mayors of the World. You are opening the door to many professional people who will learn from your stand. Let's all stay well till we achieve World Peace. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

Note: Mayors of the World for Peace Speech May 4th, 2010 New York City


Peace Involvement by Frank Ostrowski

     Peace to me is something deeply internal. I think the search for it, and dedication to it, has helped me face with equanimity and even joy the Stage IV thymic cancer which no doubt will probably lead to my death. The statement attributed to Gandhi, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way,” speaks to me about what all of us, especially those dedicated to peace, must keep in the forefront of our thinking. If, as we pursue peace, we become self-righteous and even violent, we are no longer really peaceful people. We will have become the very thing we are attempting to stop. If we are going to pursue peace, we ourselves must have peace deep within our hearts. Peace will tolerate no counterfeits.

     In 2006 I published “Beyond Systems: Achieving Peace Through Our Shared Humanity.” It is a relatively small book, which lays out how it is that we each take into our psyches a System, whatever that might be, born of family, school, church, our environment, and the media. Adherence to that System is reinforced by obedience, conformity and loyalty, and these drivers are ultimately so strong that they help create and reinforce an entire militaristic view of life, to defend against the “other.” The book takes the position that it is only by re-discovering the basic interconnection that we have with our six billion plus brothers and sisters can we ever hope to arrive at peace. And it also suggests that we already may be taking some baby steps toward that kind of peace. My wife, Sarah Lopez, and I had had a group which met weekly for about seventeen years in our home to study “A Course in Miracles,” whose focus is a profound dedication to arriving at “the peace of God.” We disbanded about two years ago, but the centrality of this search remains paramount for me.

     I have probably been an advocate for peace the better part of my life. My family was a peaceful one, and I deplored violence even as a child, whether it took place on an international level or between individuals. I think my first involvement in any peace work was participating in demonstrations at the University of Florida in 1968-9 while I was a graduate student there. In the late 1970s I and another man formed the first Atlanta organization to deal with the men who were battering their wives or significant others, Alternatives to Violent Acts. Our beginnings were later much expanded by others much more successfully in the organization known as Men Stopping Violence. I continued to be involved in 20 anti-war activities during the 1970s, both the Vietnam War and the ever more serious Cold War with its nuclear weapons. I joined Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR), an organization whose chief focus was the abolition of nuclear weapons, and eventually became a co-president locally in the early 1980s. In that position I worked closely with several like-minded organizations, including Educators for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Eventually I took a national position with PsySR, as secretary.

     During the 1990s my focus turned from opposition to particular wars or situations to opposition to war itself. At this time I made the acquaintance of Lili Baxter, who has been closely associated with the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), a pacifist organization, and has held many positions with them. I joined FOR sometime during the 1990s. Finally, in the year 2000, as I was about to retire from the practice of clinical psychology, Lili invited me to come to a FOR board meeting and apply for the position of representative for that organization to the United Nations. The board approved my application, even though I was living far away from UN headquarters. For the next six years I traveled to New York, sometimes monthly, and took part in various working groups (Iraq, Israel/Palestine especially) and made reports to FOR (and eventually to International FOR, as it was more advantageous for representatives to the UN to be representing the international organization).

     In my role as UN representative, I have given invited talks in Japan and Paris. In particular, the Japanese FOR, which has been deeply involved in retention of Article 9 of their constitution (a paragraph or two that commit Japan not only to nonviolence, but even to not having an armed force) wanted me to speak. They invited me to give an address to a symposium at the beginning of IFOR’s international meeting near Tokyo. Hawkish forces in Japan (and the American government) have been trying to get Japan to delete Article 9 so that Japan can join the world in its dedication to war. FOR invited me to go to India in 2002 to represent them at the Nonviolent Peaceforce’s International Convening Event. This organization has a presence now in four countries, and is beginning to attract attention from people at the United Nation.

I am currently involved in an attempt to begin a local FOR group here in Atlanta. One project we are talking about is circulating a petition to the Japanese government for the retention of Article 9. For several years I have been involved with the local chapter of the United Nations Association, a support group for the UN dating almost to the very beginning of the UN itself. I have acted as treasurer for about nine years.

Note: Atlanta Peace Trails Peace Pole @ Open Door Community 910 Ponce de Leon Ave in Atlanta, Georgia 30306 dedicated to Frank Ostrowski (5/17/30 - 1/25/10)


Peace Pole at Meditation Mount by Frances Adams Moore

     On January 24, 2009, in Ojai, California USA hosted an event to officially open its International Garden of Peace, and dedicate the newly installed “Peace Portal” designed by local area artist and sculptor, G. Ramon Byrne. Dr. Robert Muller, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, joined the dedication ceremonies. Dr. Muller, who has spent 40 years of his life behind the scenes at the U.N. focusing his energies on world peace, was also on hand at the dedication of the Mount’s original Peace Pole, described below.

     There was also another special presentation that of a new Peace Pole from Japan gifted to the Mount by Uran Snyder of Long Beach, CA, a Peace Representative with The World Peace Prayer Society. The Peace Pole features the Society’s universal peace message and prayer “May Peace Prevail on Earth” written on two sides in English, and the other two sides in Japanese and Spanish. In the next phase of the International Garden of Peace and its extension—“The Path”—the Peace Pole will be officially planted and dedicated. At that time, the new Pole will become a companion to the Mount’s existing Peace Pole, located just outside the Mount Auditorium, where it has stood since being dedicated at a ceremony in 1989. The eight plaques on that Pole contain the universal message in Arabic, Chumash, English, French, Georgian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. Shepherd Joy, long time grounds-keepers and resident of the Mount, was instrumental in facilitating the original Pole with inspiration and guidance from Andrea Kay Smith in Atlanta, Georgia. Andrea suggested the Georgian language because she had just completed a Sister-City cultural exchange with Project Peace Tree in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia (former USSR) during the Cold War. Chumash was chosen because of the Indians who lived in the territory of Meditation Mount.

     Visitors at the Mount, who notice that the plaques on the sides of the original Peace Pole are warped, though still quite legible, may wonder how it came to be in that condition. The history is quite dramatic, as the Pole, like all of the structures at Meditation Mount, survived a brush fire that swept over the Mount grounds on New Year’s Eve, 1999, damaging much of the plant life but leaving the structures intact. As the vegetation has regained its growth in the ensuing years, the warped sides of the original Peace Pole remain as a scarred reminder that Meditation Mount—though threatened and burned by fire—did survive to continue its service to humanity and the world. Thus, in a sense, the original Pole represents the fact our planet has survived the ravages of wars that have afflicted humanity throughout history, while the new, pristine Peace Pole represents the ever-present possibility of a truly lasting peace.

Note: On July 22, 2008 Frances was 100 years old. She guided Meditation Mount in the footsteps of founder, Florence Garrague who was a student of Alice A. Bailey.


Women as Peacebuilders by Afaf Stevens

     What motivated me into peace action are two factors. (1) The current international relationship between nations is deteriorating at an alarming pace specifically coming from the Middle East in Iraq where I was born and raised in Baghdad. I feel we have to take this issue very seriously and redeem the situation. We all can definitely get along in more positive ways through cultural, art, and science to communicate and exchange with each other, rather than consider every nation or race or group as the enemy. Also, being a woman I have a spiritual obligation to build a better world for our future generations for children, and being a Baha'i my spiritual conviction also assured me that it will be women who will bring about the long awaited universal peace. (2) I have been involved in peace action for more than twenty years in New England where I was a 1974 graduate student from Harvard Divinity School where I studied world religion. I participated in peace movements and lectured on building peace in this world through peaceful communication and respect to one another. I believe building peace means living with justice and respect for all humanity around the world beginning in our own neighborhoods. Without peace there can be no human quality life which is our basic human right.

     I co-founded Sarah Farmer Women's Center and Tahirih Peace Institute in New England moving to Atlanta, Georgia USA for warmer weather where I am now participating in Douglas county, joining interfaith actions and teaching my college students to educate them about this most vital issue "Women as Peace Makers." I am open to any other means of participating in peace actions like with the UN “Women's Dept” that has a Chilean woman heading it. My role models are the feminist scholar Betty Reardon and my recent peace mentor Andrea Kay Smith.

Note: WPT met Afaf in 2007 through Gail Lash, PhD when Peace Poles “May Peace Prevail on Earth” were dedicated in two locations in Douglasville, Georgia in Hunter Park, and at the Cultural Arts Center by Debi Merrifield who donated the Peace Poles in honor of Project Peace Tree & Leslie Ennis building bridges of friendship with one of Atlanta's Sister-City Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia in 1989. Afaf is married and mother of two grown children.


We Are Divinely and Infinitely Loved! By Fred Stevens

     “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” In the autumn following the tragedy of September 11, 2001 we from the Atlanta Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends planted a Peace Pole. The Pole was placed in the ground as a road marker on the path of peace during the chaos following this tragedy. The occasion was also the 50th anniversary of the Atlanta Meeting where, dating back to the Civil Rights era, peace and social justice remain a dynamic of individual faith. The idea to plant a Peace Pole was inspired and donated by Elizabeth Hendricks who is one of those most integral in the founding of the Atlanta Meeting. My honored role as the man with the shovel and the Peace Pole in hand traces back to A Walk of the People, A Pilgrimage for Life which crossed the U.S. and Europe for world peace.

     As a Quaker community the Atlanta Friends have been steadfast in their opposition to wars of any kind. Our passion is that you should never kill anyone for what you believe in. Over 100 adults and children, including my 7 year-old daughter (who was also at a Peace Pole dedication as a baby in 1994), were gathered around the Pole at its dedication outside the entrance to the Meeting House on Howard Avenue in Decatur, Georgia USA. Most helpful in making the event meaningful were Bert Skellie, Karen Morris and a host of others. The Peace Poles are that ever-present reminder that the peoples of this planet will stop fighting once they decide to stop fighting. In this way they express how we are divinely and infinitely loved! They honor what we are most deeply all about.

     Like most Peace Poles it has 4 sides and four languages (English, Swahili, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese) in a world of over 4000 different languages. Four out of 4000—maybe that says something about the immensity of this peace project. But I fearlessly understand how Life is eternal and we will go on and on and on, no matter what. So, we put a stick in the ground and say “this is where I stand.” “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”

     “May Peace prevail on Earth!” Why do people fight so much. Here’s some thoughts on that. We proponents of nonviolence have a difficult time of it because when we act in opposition to war we may be seen as being against the warriors of our particular nation. We are seen by the hawks as being opposed to them. So, the war hawks who think their imagined enemy is their opposite see us as also being their opposite. Thus we have the ‘if you’re not with us you’re against us’ mentality. And if that’s not confusing enough if we proactive doves are so peaceful how can we be so passionately opposed to the hawks without being violent? Do we fight for peace.

     No military will end the fighting. War with the Mideast is possibly only one more battle in a war that’s as old or older than the Bible It’s amazing when you think about it. We’ve been trying this same solution to this same problem expecting a different outcome. When will we get it that only our collective will determines what we create and only we can create liberation from the fighting?

     We fight because we believe there’s not enough of everything to go around. No single belief on this planet could possibly be more inaccurate! We only need to rely on those resources that are the very most abundant and move away from the less abundant ones. That resource is, of course, water and the hydrogen within it.

     We fight ultimately over God when that’s the very last thing Our Common Creator has planned for anyone. If you don’t think our conflicts are all based on religion just visit Ireland. In Ireland you don’t dare tell a Catholic you’re Protestant, you don’t dare tell a Protestant you’re Catholic and if you tell either of them you’re not a Christian you’re really asking for trouble. If you don’t think wars are about God visit, well, just about anywhere at anytime in history.

     We fight because of our addictions to the neurotransmitters of fear located inside our brains. It is only an ingrained habit of our thinking that makes fighting possible. We have come to live in a comfort zone of being afraid. Being afraid is familiar. We’re used to it. So we fight so we can be afraid because we love what’s most familiar.

     We men fight because soldiers in a foxhole experience an emotional bonding unlike any other. They/we love that connection we’ve created to each other and its hard to give it up. This is the biggest secret about men and war—that only a few war veterans are willing to consider even for a moment.

Note: In remembrance of devoted Atlanta peace activist Ed Arnold, Physicians For Social Responsibility, 1938-2008. Fred was in Berlin when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.


Path to World Peace Prayer Society by Fumi Johns Stewart

     I have a bi-cultural background. Mother is Japanese and Father is American. I was born and raised in Japan listening to World War II stories from my Japanese grandmother. As a child I was torn to know that my father land, the USA, fought a war with my mother land, Japan. I feel this inner turmoil and pain ignited my young spirit in hoping to be instrumental in creating a bridge between the two cultures and working for World Peace for all of humanity.

     World Peace Prayer Society (WPPS) and The Peace Pole Project was initially a peace movement based in Japan. It started around 1954 when Masahisa Goi, a poet and philosopher authored the Universal Message and Prayer, “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” The Peace Poles were first planted in Japan starting 1975 thereby planting the seeds for the Peace Pole Project to emerge in the USA and around the world.

     My first connection with the Peace Message was back in 1978 when a friend of mine gave me a sticker which read, “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” It was “instant recognition’ as if a light was ignited within. I was 23 years old at the time and the connection was a spiritual one rather than an intellectual one. When I learned that this message came from Japan, I felt that this was the mission and calling I had been waiting for since childhood. After that, my peace work began and still to this day, I am working to spread the Universal Message and Prayer, “May Peace Prevail On Earth” throughout the world.

     In 1983, a friend and I traveled to the first 13 colonies of the USA by car to plant 51 Peace Poles. These were one of the first Peace Poles planted in the USA which eventually led to the beginning of The Peace Pole Project in 1986 here in the US. I feel very much like I was midwife to The Peace Pole Project in the USA. It was a great joy to know that Peace Poles have been loved by so many people and has grown up strong and healthy!

     Along with the Peace Poles came the World Peace Prayer Ceremony in 1983. This was such a heart opening and mind expansive Ceremony at the time and I still believe it is. You get to travel in spirit to every country on earth, blessing each country with a prayer – “May Peace Prevail On Earth.” To date, every continent and major cities have presented The World Peace Prayer Ceremony. I feel that the hearts of humanity have embraced this Ceremony as it is so much an experience and expression of the Oneness of our Global Humanity.

     I don’t feel you need to be a famous leader to inspire others. People in my everyday life inspire me daily. I must say, however, that the founder of WPPS, Masahisa Goi and his adopted daughter, Mrs Masami Saionji, who is present chairperson of WPPS have served as my greatest role models as they are an expression of PEACE to me. I also look at a tree which stands without any emotional interference or negative thought forms as a pure expression of Divine Source. I have infinite gratitude to all of nature that has inspired me along the way with great encouragement to continue on my journey of peace. “MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH”

Note: Fumi donated a Peace Pole to that was planted June 20, 2010 Father's Day at Peace Lutheran Church in Decatur, Georgia USA. WPPS also loaned the flags for the Flag Ceremony for an EastEnd Neighbors quarterly meeting in Decatur, Georgia in 2006. Fumi presented a Flag Ceremony at Meditation Mount in Ojai, Calif in 1994 which introduced Andrea Kay Smith to a deeper meaning of the Peace Buttons “May Peace Prevail on Earth".


Pathway to Peace for Students by Katherine Shamsid-Deen

     On a sunny day in November 2007, sixth graders cultivated more than just plants in the school's courtyard. They were looking to grow tolerance & understanding. They were creating a Peace Garden with hopes of stopping violence that worried them. "People doing hate crimes,” explains Corey Nizam, a sixth grader. “Just racial. And, people killing people for what they say, their religious beliefs and color of their skin.” "Peace means to me [that you] get along with your peers. Have a good relationship with people,” shares sixth grader Chance Shelton. The garden is just one piece of an area created by students called a "Pathway to Peace". The hope is to keep a dialogue going about all aspects to peace from anti-violence to more introspective concepts such as inner peace. The garden includes a mural of a dove and hand peace symbol and a peace quilt. Ninety sixth graders each sewed triangles for the quilt and with the help of quilter, Joy Bora, stitched together the fabric of their lives. Some brought in pieces of favorite blankets or beloved pieces of clothing. Everyone in the school contributed.

     The “Pathway to Peace” project became my brainchild when I traveled to several countries in the summer of 2006 for a learning conference. We planted Peace Poles “May Peace Prevail On Earth” in Morocco and Spain. When I learned there are more than 200,000 Peace Poles worldwide I thought about a local tie-in with Columbia Middle School in Decatur, Georgia USA where I was a teacher so the students could feel connected worldwide with the other Peace Poles. Artist Cecil Hess taught students the art of pyrography also called wood burning and they burned the words "May Peace Prevail On Earth" in the eight languages (English, Spanish, French, Fulani, Bengali, Arabic, Amharic/Ethiopian, Jamaican, Patoix/Creole ) representing the school community demographic onto their Peace Pole. The Pole went in the center of the garden along their pathway to peace with its underlying message of hope. We dedicated it December 6, 2006 during a two-hour ceremony.

     Then I transferred to Champion Theme Middle School in Stone Mountain, Georgia as a teacher full of inspiration and intention to bring another Peace Pole to the students on April 3, 2008 when the school dedicated an eight-sided Pole with English, Spanish, French Arabic, Amharic/Ethiopian, Ibo, Hebrew, Vietnamese. The languages were burned on the Pole in the woodworking class. The whole school created pinwheels for the ceremony. Eight students representing the eight languages spoke in their native language, wearing native attire. The Anti-Defamation League then designated Champion “No place For Hate.” It was another day on the pathway to peace for many students.


Creating A Stress-Free Violence Free World by Mona Shah-Joshi

     When attention is given to the spiritual aspect of one's life it brings responsibility, a sense of belonging, and compassion and caring for the whole of humanity. Spirit upholds and sustains life. It makes you strong and solid. It breaks down the narrow boundaries of cast, creed, religion, and nationality, and gives you an awareness of life present everywhere. It is only through this awareness, this uplifting of consciousness, that wars can be eliminated and human rights restored in the world today.

     My vision is of a world that is crime-free, stress-free and violence free. Through His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (affectionately called Sri Sri) I have learned about a global phenomenon of compassion and service. A spiritual leader and humanitarian, his programs have impacted more than 25 million people from all nationalities, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds worldwide. In 1981, he started the Art of Living Foundation , an international nonprofit educational and humanitarian organization. Its educational programs provide tools—using the ancient art of breathing, meditation, and yoga—to eliminate stress and improve well-being.

     I first took the Art of Living Yoga and Meditation course in 1991, while an undergraduate at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The semester prior to taking the course, I was managing editor of the university newspaper, a campus activist, and involved in various campus organizations, all while taking 22 credit hours. Despite this activity, I had somehow managed to earn my first 4.0. in college. And completely stress myself out in the process. After taking the Art of Living course, my schedule did not change. What did change was the level of clarity, efficiency and energy that I was able to bring to each task. With Sudarshan Kriya, a rhythmic breathing practice taught in the Art of Living course, I finally found a way to quiet the mind, relax, focus and live in the present moment.

     Art of Living participants span all walks of life, from Catholic nuns to atheists, from political leaders to former prisoners, from war vets to inner city gang members. Each of us would find within the Art of Living course that which we uniquely needed in our life. Through the course, I began developing an experiential appreciation of the principles of my faith, Jainism. Ahimsa or nonviolence is the crux of Jainism. As I continued to practice the Sudarshan Kriya and other principles in the course, my understanding of ahimsa expanded from intellectual admiration to something that began manifesting in seed form in my actions and words. I realized that while violence begins with a thought in the mind, peace begins with silence in the mind.

     I was inspired to train as a volunteer instructor of the Art of Living Course while in graduate school. I taught world literature for academic development, and the Art of Living for my spiritual development. In the 17 years that I have been privileged to be part of the Art of Living Foundation, I am continually humbled and awed by the founder’s vision and commitment to peace on an individual level. By strengthening and empowering individuals, Sri Sri is quietly paving the way for peace. Conflicts, rising fundamentalism, and erosion of human values in different corners of the world have been key areas of concern for Sri Sri. Respected as a neutral entity with unquestionable integrity, he has successfully worked to help the peace process in all parts of the world including Kashmir, Sri Lanka, the Balkans and Israel. Through Art of Living programs and personal interventions, he has encouraged and enabled many conflicting groups to adopt peaceful means of resolving their issues. Espousing the Gandhian principle of non-violence, Sri Sri calms the minds of aggressors, provides solace and emotional strength to victims and works towards developing long-lasting solutions to achieving peace. The Art of Living Foundation has become one of the largest volunteer-based NGOs at the United Nations.

Note: Mona Shah-Joshi, director of the Art of Living Foundation in Georgia has been traveling and teaching courses since 1994. She is a highly regarded lecturer and instructor on yoga, Jain philosophy and practice and issues relating to harmony and diversity in society.


Mightier Than the Sword by Robert Solloway

     In 1969, I was of age to be in the draft lottery. My father, who spoke little at all and even less about his experiences in WWII, saw how anxious I was and called me aside. "I want you to know that if your number comes up, you'll be going to Canada. Your mother and I will support you there as long as is necessary. I won't lose you to this war." I think I became a radical, inside, that night. My father would die a year later of an illness related to an injury suffered in his war. And although it was 1970, the VA accepted my mother's claim, and my father was classified a casualty of WWII, the last as far as I know. That's when I became a radical outside.

     For many years I did my share of protesting. I was an angry protester. However, as I grew older, I transformed into a softer advocate for peace, and at times felt out of place at "anti-war" rallies. My peace work now mostly takes the form of "Letters-to-the-editor". It may seem silly to some, but I have been told they are among the most read sections. Last year alone, I had over 30 published. I believe they can be an effective tool when done right. It is important to relate your letter to an article or editorial from that paper. This is really easy if your issue is peace because almost everyday there is some article on war. The paper likes these letters because in some real sense they create advertising for their paper by referring to something the reader might have missed. The most important component of your letter cannot be an ideal rant. Get facts! The Internet is loaded with them. If the article sites an "expert", look him up. Does he get his money from biased sources? Tell the readers. If the article uses a statistic, check it out. Many are not reported correctly or completely. In today's world, everything the media says is suspect.

     I encourage all of you to write letters, particularly to local papers, the "freebees", the ones for special populations, etc. The big city newspapers just get too many to even read. Though most of what I write never gets printed, I feel useful and successful. I hope others who like to write will pick up the pen. It is, you know, mightier than the sword.

Note: Robert moved to Atlanta, Georgia USA in 1982 to go to grad school at Emory and has one daughter. He is a native to Brooklyn, NY.


Agreeing To Disagree by Sherri Boles-Rogers

     In the past, the kinds of conversations I had around political issues with people holding opposing views were usually heavily charged and confrontational. In discussing an issue with another person, we would both dig our heels in, stick to our scripts, and never really hear what the other one was saying.

     After practicing Nonviolent Communication for a while, I had the opportunity to discuss with a friend what was going on just before the United States went to war in Iraq. We both were very passionate about our personal views, but this time I tried to really hear what he was saying; I tried to see what feelings and needs were behind his words.

     At one point, I said, “I sense you’re afraid of what might happen to our country if we don’t do something. And you’d like for us to be safe.” “Of course,” he said, “I don’t want to see another 9-11 here.” “Are you worried that it will happen again?” I asked. “And you want to make sure we’re doing all we can to prevent it?” “Exactly,” he said. ”There’s a bunch of crazies out there who hate us! Who want to kill us! We can’t just sit around and wait for it to happen!” “You’d like for us to do more to protect ourselves?” I asked. “Yes” he said. “We have to act, we have to do something.” After I reflected back to him in feelings and needs language what I heard him say, there was a noticeable shift in the conversation. He calmed down and his tone went soft.

     At this point, I sensed he could hear what I had to say. So I told him, “I’m also scared of what might happen if we don’t do something, and I think we are only disagreeing on what strategies we should use.” I told him that I didn’t feel safer invading Iraq and that I thought it would only increase hatred of our country and cause more suffering for everyone. I walked away from the conversation thinking that we both had really heard each other and that we had connected through our shared need for safety. We still disagreed on strategies, but this time we saw each other as humans, not as political rivals.

Note: Written September 2005. For more information about Marshall Rosenberg's work on nonviolent communication, please refer to his website,, and to the Georgia website