Third Annual Woodstock International Walk for World Peace—photos

August 11, 2011

Thanks to all who came to our Third Annual Woodstock International Walk for World Peace!

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A Call To Peace

August 4, 2011

Fumi Johns-Stewart of the World Peace Prayer Society has generously offered to provide transportation from Woodstock to Amenia & back, to attendees of this year’s Woodstock International Walk for World Peace, to the World Peace Prayer Society’s “A Call To Peace”, on September 25th, 2011. We will have sign-up sheets on site, and invite you to attend.

We thank the World Peace Prayer Society for their generosity, and for their participation in all of our Walks for Peace, and for all the Peace Poles they plant—I’ve counted three in Woodstock; one at Family, one at Comeau Field, and the Peace Pole on the village green.

But it isn’t just their material generosity we have to be thankful for, but their generosity of spirit, as well. Just the idea of “May Peace Prevail On Earth” may be more valuable to humanity than we know, and we are thankful that Masahisa Goi started this valuable work in 1955, and pray that the seeds of his idea continue to grow fruit.


Two days!

August 4, 2011

The weather forecast is good for Woodstock, NY this Saturday, August 6, 2011, and we are looking forward to our third annual Woodstock International Walk for World Peace! We gather between at 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. in the parking lot (no parking here, though; use one of Woodstock’s Municipal lots, please) at the intersection of routes 212 and 375, where water will be available (thanks to Hurley Ridge Market, and Michele Elyse Flanders). The World Peace Prayer Society is once again bringing the flags of 193 countries, to be distributed before the walk. The walk begins at 11:00 a.m.; we will proceed through town to Comeau Field, where we will hold the Flag Ceremony, a peace paint-out, talks, and performances by Denise Jordan Finley & Daniel Pagdon, James Cannings, and others. The Parrots for Peace™ will once again be on hand, too; as will Terry Leroy of the Haitian People’s Support Project.

This year’s walk falls on the 66th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, an horrific event that we commemorate each year by holding our walk for peace on the weekend closest to the anniversary. We once again affirm that we never again wish to see such horror, and state that we all will do what each of us can to bring about a more peaceful world. The date of August 6th is known as Universal Peace Day, though the event is often observed in the United States on August 5th, due to the International Date Line.

We can all do more to bring about peace; we can show kindness whenever possible, and work with others to produce a more sustainable world. A sustainable world is a peaceful world, as sustainability would mean providing water, food, housing, safety, education for every human being—no one left behind. In the United States, this might mean strengthening and increasing enforcement of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, moving away from fossil fuels, and writing our local and federal representatives, urging less investment in the machinery of war, more investment in jobs, education, and infrastructure; less political posturing, and more substantive action. It might encompass reducing one’s energy use (we have one of the world’s highest rates of energy consumption) and eschewing some rainforest products (palm oil = bad), while using others (brazil nuts = good).

One thing is certain, every society that has not embraced the ideas of peace and sustainability has eventually failed; this is attested to in Jared Diamond’s books Guns, Germs, and Steel, and Collapse; and more recently in Brian Fagan’s Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind.

When we contrast those collapsed societies with the Aboriginal communities of Australia, the oldest continually operational society on earth, we find that the aboriginies have a deep reverence for nature that has enabled them to live for 40,000 years in one of the harshest environments on earth, and that peace and the environment can’t be separated.

Join us this Saturday, August 6, 2011, as we walk and pray for peace!


The high cost of war

July 28, 2011

I received the following email from former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson about a week ago, and think it important enough to share with you. Our news media keep us distracted with non-news; smoke and mirrors. The bogeyman which confronts us isn’t taxes, the high price of gasoline, or child murderers, etc., as horrific as these are, but rather the high cost of constant war. The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya consume nearly 50% of the United States budget, and enrich the few at the expense of the many. These wars are directly responsible for millions of Americans being out of work, and for the middle-class erosion that continues. Following is the text of Alan Grayson’s letter:

There are 23 million Americans who can’t find full-time work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are 50 million Americans who can’t see a doctor when they are sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

There are more than 15 million American families who owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth, according to Zillow.  That’s almost a third of all the families who own homes.

If I were in Congress right now, these are the problems that I would be trying to solve.

But instead, we see a bizarre preoccupation—no, really, an obsession—with cutting federal benefits.  Some kind of weird contest to see who can inflict the most pain on the American people.  With the proponent of each new sadistic plan announcing proudly, “mine is bigger than yours.”

I’ll be honest—the federal deficit for the year 2021 is not something that I spend a lot of time thinking about, these days.  But let’s assume—arguendo, as they used to say back in Ancient Rome – that for some reason, there were some compelling, emergency need to work out how to cut $2 trillion from projected federal budget deficits over the next ten years.

I have an idea about how to do that.  It’s a very simple idea.  In fact, I can sum it up in one word, with five letters:

PEACE.

 

Now, I know that peace may not be as popular as it used to be.  The polling is very iffy.  The focus groups are mixed.  But let’s look at the facts.

Last year, we spent $154 billion in appropriated funds on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That is in addition to the $549 billion in appropriated funds for the Pentagon – you know, just to keep the lights on.  And the non-appropriated cost of war was even higher – especially when you include the cost of care for the 15% of all the American troops in Iraq who come home with permanent brain abnormalities.  According to Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, the war in Iraq alone is costing us $4 trillion and counting. That’s more than $13,000 for every one of us, and roughly 8% of our entire net worth as a nation.

The cost of war is enormous.  So enormous that, as I pointed out in H.R. 5353, The War is Making You Poor Act, if we simply funded that cost through the Pentagon’s own budget, rather than through supplemental appropriations, we could eliminate taxes on everyone’s first $35,000 of income ($70,000 for married couples), and still reduce the deficit by more than $10 billion a year.

And that was last year.  Since then, the number of wars has gone up by 50%.

This is what Pat Buchanan—of all people, Pat Buchanan—said two weeks ago:

“The United States is strategically over-extended, worldwide. What are we doing borrowing money from Japan to defend Japan. Borrow money from Europe to defend Europe. Borrow money from the Persian Gulf to defend the Persian Gulf. This country is over-extended. It is an empire and the empire is coming down.”

You say that you want to save $2 trillion in ten years?  It’s simple:  end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and end whatever it is that they are calling it now in Libya.  I’d rather do that than throw Granny from the train.

But that’s just me. 

Guns or butter.  It’s not a new choice.

I prefer butter.

What about you?

Courage,

Alan Grayson


About Peace…

July 14, 2011

John Lennon and Yoko Ono had it right, “War Is Over (If You Want It)”. Peace can only be achieved through peace; wars cannot bring peace. We enjoyed this Grammy Award performance of Imagine, with Herbie Hancock, Jeff Beck, India.Arie, Seal, Pink, and others.

Join us at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 6, 2011, at the intersection of Routes 212 and 375 in Woodstock, NY, for our third annual Woodstock International Walk for World Peace. We will be joined by The World Peace Prayer Society once again, for the procession of flags through town to Comeau Field, where we will hold the Flag Ceremony, followed by musical and other entertainments. Denise Jordan Finley and Daniel Pagdon have agreed to perform, as has James Cannings; other speakers and performers are to be announced. We look forward to seeing you come together to affirm our profound wishes for peace throughout the world.

We need a new approach if we are to achieve lasting peace throughout the world, an approach that focuses on human security—everyone needs access to clean water, adequate food, safety from violence, education, housing, and freedom of religion, if we are to build a more peaceful world. That is the basic concept behind Shannon D. Beebe’s and Mary Kaldor’s book, The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon, which outlines a framework for this to happen. They propose that our military be re-purposed to assist in bringing about a more peaceful world. Lieutenant Colonel Shannon D. Beebe is a West Point graduate, and Senior Africa Analyst, Office of United States Army Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence; and Mary Kaldor is a professor of political science and director of the Centre for Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Their words have weight and merit, and I urge you all to read this most worthwhile book.

Thomas Barnett makes many of the same points in this interesting TED talk. While I object to his insistence upon the initial use of overwhelming force, many of his other ideas are worth serious thought. His book, The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century, contains many of the same ideas as Beebe’s and Kaldor’s book. While I cannot completely disagree with his basic concept of the “functioning core” of nations, it is worth noting that there is much about this “functioning core” that is dysfunctional at best, as attested to by the millions of currently unemployed in the so-called “developed world”. We can do better here, too.

Join us, to show your most profound hopes are for peace.

The above views are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of The Woodstock Council for World Peace.


Countdown!

August 7, 2010

A photo from last year's walk. ©2009 Doug Potoksky

We have less than 24 hours left until the Second Annual Woodstock International Walk for World Peace, and much to do!

Went to the Beacon Sloop Club potluck last night to make final preparations with Victorio Roland Mousaa and Pete Seeger, and we’re going to see them at the Peace Corner in Wappingers Falls today; also sound check, meeting Jack Nelson, and lots more to do. Thanks to everyone at the sloop club for their generosity toward Tony Angel’s Spirit Journey; we raised $120.20 for Tony last night, which we will deposit in his account this morning.

What is clear is the need for a more peaceful world. The best thing we can do is to be the change that we wish to see in others; we state again that if each of us is dedicated to a more peaceful world, we will have one. Please come support us in our mission by walking with us through town with the flags of all nations in Woodstock, and show the world the pro-peace spirit that is the true legacy of the Woodstock Nation lives.

Peace and love!


Universal Peace Day and The Woodstock International Walk for World Peace

August 6, 2010

Today, August 6th, 2010, is the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.  “Little Boy” was the name of the fission bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The 30 year old pilot, Colonel Paul Tibbets, named his B-29 Superfortress the “Enola Gay” after his mother. The immediate death toll was approximately 70,000 men, women & children, who were instantly vaporized. Many others perished in the months and years that followed. August 6 has been internationally recognized as Universal Peace Day, though due to the International Date Line, it is often observed in the U.S. on August 5th.

Yesterday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and Nobel Prize-winning author and Hiroshima survivor Kenzaburo Oe wrote a moving article in The New York Times.

A photo from last year's walk. ©2009 Doug Potoksky

We ask all of you to join us this Sunday, August 8, 2010, for the Second Annual Woodstock International Walk for World Peace. We walk on the weekend closest to Universal Peace Day each year as a reminder to all that we wish to never again witness nuclear devastation, and to express our profound wishes for an end to all wars. If each of us is dedicated to a more peaceful world, we will have one.

We thank The Woodstock Chamber of Commerce & Arts, The Town of Woodstock, The World Peace Prayer Society, Pete Seeger, Victorio Roland Mousaa, Princess WOW!, Tony Angel, and all the other individuals who have given so generously their time and efforts to support our goals.

Now come on out Sunday morning for a great time!