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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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!


Vernal Equinox (Spring is here!)

March 21, 2010

The ecliptic path at vernal equinox

Yesterday, at 1:32 p.m., spring arrived in the northern hemisphere, and fall began in the southern. The vernal (spring) equinox marks the time each year when daylight and darkness are exactly equal (in the northern hemisphere; this date marks the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere.

I was privileged to attend the United Nations Earth Day ceremony and the ringing of the peace bell in the rose garden, where I heard the wonderful Tarumi Violinists, directed by Yukako Tarumi, and many interesting speakers on the environment. Among the speakers were Helen Garland, chairperson of the Earth Society Foundation, co-founded with John McConnell and supported by noted anthropologist Margaret Mead; Simon Reeves from New Zealand; Vahan Galoumian, Project Coordinator of UNESCO‘s liason office in New York, and Andres Gomez of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation of Natural History at the American Museum of Natural History.

John McConnell's Earth Flag

We are losing habitat and biodiversity at an alarming rate; 40% of the Amazon rainforest will be lost by 2030 if deforestation continues at present rates; soil and fisheries depletion are accelerating, and 30,000 people per day are dying from lack of access to clean water. These are severe problems that need solutions, and I thank all of yesterday’s speakers for their dedication to these issues.

Yet too often, the multinational corporations and the men and women who run them are portrayed as arch-villains; I find this disturbing for many reasons, chief among them that these men and women are people just like you and me, and no man or woman is my enemy. For better or for worse, these corporations are here to stay, and we need to enlist them as partners to move forward; the way to peace can only be through peace. As Jurrian Kamp, editor-in-chief of Ode magazine states in his article We need to end climate anger: “…environmentalists… need to embrace all the people they fear stand in the way of the progress the planet needs: the politicians and industrial leaders.”

To be sure, corporations must practice corporate responsibility and become good planetary citizens, and their track record on this has been dismal, yet demonizing these corporations and the men and women who run them is the most ineffective means at our disposal of enlisting their cooperation—and we need their cooperation and access to their vast resources if we are to find solutions to the problems we face. We are all in this together.

The above views are my own, and do not necessarily represent the Woodstock Council for World Peace.


Establishing a Department of Peace

March 16, 2010

Change.org announced today the top ten ideas for change in America, and I’m pleased to see that “Establish a U.S. Department of Peacebuilding” is number five, though I’d be more pleased if it were number one (that honor was dubiously given to legalizing the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana; I’d say that peace and love are more important).

Please read my earlier post on a Department of Peace, and write your senators and congresspeople asking that this be made a reality. The world can no longer afford wars; they have become economically unsustainable—our energies are better focused on ensuring access to clean water, and on providing food, housing, health care, and education for all of humanity. Let’s make it happen!


Vote for Peace

February 21, 2010

Click here to register your vote to establish a U.S. Department of Peace, and send your message to Congress here. The bill to establish a Department of Peace is now before the House of Representatives, and, among other things, would provide funding to establish a U.S. Peace Academy which would act as a counterpart to the U.S. Military Academy, teach violence prevention and mediation to America’s school children, and provide complimentary support to our military by engaging in parallel peace-building activities.

The Woodstock Council for World Peace has already sent a letter of support for the Department of Peace to Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who first introduced this bill in July 2001, shortly before the attacks of 9/11. Unfortunately, our country’s reaction to those attacks, and George W. Bush’s mistaken policy of GWOT (Global War on Terror) has allowed this bill to languish. Make your voices heard, and tell Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and your representatives that you want the United States Department of Peace to become a reality.

We are living in a world that is witnessing the threats of habitat and biodiversity loss, fisheries depletion, global economic stress and world hunger; in such a world, war is unsustainable.

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


The invisible war

January 31, 2010

Photo from Stop Conflict: DR Congo—stopconflict.wordpress.com

Nicholas D. Kristof’s column today concerns the continuing war in the Congo, which, he points out, has claimed 30 times more lives than the Haitian disaster, and is the most devastating conflict the world has seen since World War II. The war has claimed more than 5.4 million lives to date, with no end in sight.

Mr. Kristof notes the pathetic international response to this tragedy, and I thank him for his continuing dedication to the causes of peace and justice. The unspeakable atrocities being committed in the Congo must be stopped; please write your representatives asking that they devote resources to putting an end to this.

You might also write to media outlets, expressing outrage at the lack of media coverage.

Disclaimer: The above views are my own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Woodstock Council for World Peace.


State of the Union address at Harmony

January 27, 2010

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, January, 27, 2009, which is normally open mic night at Harmony, will be devoted to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, hosted by Father Jack Nelson, and posted on Organizing for America by Elaine Maggiore, who is working hard for the Woodstock Council for World Peace, and whose daughter, Christina Valentine, has represented the Council in Conversano, Italy (Woodstock and Conversano are now sister cities, largely due to the Council’s, and Christina’s efforts), and who is now in Buenos Aires, Argentina, spreading our message of love and peace.

President Barack Obama

So please come out to Harmony, 52 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock, NY, and participate in our American democracy; help us rebuild our community spirit, which is so desperately needed, especially in these troubled times. There’s sure to be much lively discussion after our president’s speech, so this is an event you won’t want to miss. Thanks again to Elaine Maggiore, and to Father Jack Nelson for making this event possible. We’ll post the events at Harmony for Thursday, Friday and Saturday tomorrow; and don’t forget, the Woodstock Council for World Peace meets at Harmony every Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

Disclaimer: The above views do not necessarily represent the views of the Woodstock Council for World Peace.