One of these years a peace movement will finally succeed where all others have fallen short. There have probably been organized groups in favor of peace ever since homo sapiens first committed organized mass murder against each other. Many of the philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome advocated peaceful resolution of conflicts. I can imagine that some of their students may have been the first college peace activists who ever organized an anti-war movement of some sort.
At least two of the ancient teachers of the east and the west advocated the laying down of armaments in favor of tolerance and peace. Shakyamuni Buddha is the most noteworthy example. Later, Jesus of Nazareth chimed in with his teachings. In the early years, devout Christians were outspoken peaceniks. But that attitude died out rather quickly during the Dark Ages.
The Indian Emperor Asoka, as mentioned in a previous bluejayblog post actually ruled his empire by the Buddhist principles of peace and tolerance. Even though Asoka’s ideals were widely opposed, many of his decrees regarding peaceful resolution of conflice and tolerance for all belief systems and peoples have survived in the lawbooks of modern India.
In more recent times, the more familiar concepts of peace activism began to take shape. There have been notable examples from the 19th Century like Emerson and Clemmens. Clemmens, in the guise of Mark Twain was an outspoken critic of U.S. foreign wars of conquest. Specifically the Spanish-American War and our colonial designs on the Philippines.
A unique period of peace or rather a non-formal truce happened in the Flanders area during the first World War. The Germans started it by singing “Stille Nacht” (Silent Night). Man by man a dialogue developed. Soon 1,000 soldiers from both sides came together. Eventually the entire 40-kilometre Belgian front was the scene of the unofficial cease fire. Soldiers met and agreed not to shoot one another. Eventually other fronts of the war were silenced as well. Finally, under threat of Courts Martial, the troops returned to conflict. However, in many instances, troops continued to fire over each other’s heads through the next February.
More famously are the non-violent opposition movements as characterized by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Junior, Malsom X, and Cesar Chavez. The 20th Century was especially noteworthy for its numerous peace movements. But none of these have lasted very long.
The latest effort called “Peace One Day”. Documentary cinematographer and movie actor Jeremy Gilley has been promoting the idea of one day each year to be entirely free of conflict. Mark September 21st on your calendar as the Peace One Day holiday.
Gilley hopes the entire earth will observe that day with truces, formal and informal. There is support in the form of statements from the Taliban to resolutions at the United Nations.
I won’t take any more time to write about this wonderful idea other than to say that I wholeheartedly endorse it. There will be political actions, marketing of merchandise and concerts. You can spread the word by following Peace One Day on Twitter, Liking them on Facebook, emailing your friends and family or better yet, face to face with people you know on a regular basis.
The idea is entirely grassroots. It’s something that’s gaining traction and is realistically workable.
Check it out.
The Blue Jay of Happiness suggests this website: