September 17, 2011

(For those of you who attended and for those who were unable to, here is a complete transcript — sans music — of the FVJN Peace Pole Dedication.)

Welcome and thank you for joining us this morning. My name is Nancy Cox and as a representative of Fox Valley Jewish Neighbors, we are happy to be dedicating our Peace Pole today to the people of Geneva and surrounding communities. This dedication begins the day’s activities of the annual International Day of Peace.

The International Day of Peace was established by a United Nations resolution in 1981 and in 2002 the General Assembly of the United Nations officially declared a permanent annual date in September for the International Day of Peace.

This Peace Day provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations all around the world to cooperate to make progress towards peace by creating practical acts of peace on this shared date. So we thought this would be the perfect time to dedicate our new peace pole.

This Peace Pole standing before you proclaims: “May peace prevail on earth” in 8 different languages. The languages we chose for our Peace Pole: Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Algonquin (the language of the Native Americans indigenous to the area), Swedish (the culture of so many early immigrants to Geneva), and English, where we have made the wording a bit more personal: “May peace be in our Homes and Communities”.  This same message resonates on peace poles in hundreds of languages around the world.

The peace pole has become an internationally recognized symbol displaying its message of “May Peace Prevail on Earth”, the message of the hopes and dreams of the entire human family. The Peace Pole project is the official project of the World Peace Society, a nondenominational organization whose sole mission is to unite people across the world through the universal peace message.  It started in Japan in 1955 by Masahisa Goi, (1916-1980), a Japanese philosopher and humanist who decided to dedicate his life to spreading the message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in response to the destruction from the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the 2nd World War.

Mr. Goi believed that peace begins in the heart and mind of each individual and that we all share a common responsibility for the future of our planet.  He started a peace movement as a way of uniting the hearts of humanity, transcending all boundaries of race, religion or politics. Over 200,000 peace poles are planted around the world in over 200 countrie, in places including the North Pole in Canada,  pyramids in Egypt, the Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River on the border between Israel and Jordan,  Hiroshima, Japan, Angkor Wat in Cambodia and locally, as nearby as a church in Campton Hills, in Sugar Grove and Elgin at the community colleges, and 5 of them at the Keeling-Puri Peace Plaza in Rockford.   Famous leaders including former US President Jimmy Carter, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama have dedicated peace poles.

This FVJN peace pole makes us part of a global community, of all faiths and nationalities, working to make a better, more positive world.  This peace pole represents our wish for the future. A future that sees us becoming a more tolerant country, and a place where the ultimate goal is working with other countries for lasting peace throughout the world.  The World Peace society is working to stimulate a global trend toward a culture of peace. We would love to see our children’s future be free from conflict.

The work towards bringing about world peace begins with inner peace. Take a moment to think what your world would be like if all people offered a handshake instead of a clenched fist, if people considered friendship instead of hatred.  As war begins with thoughts of war, peace begins with thoughts of peace. The Peace Pole reminds us to keep peace ever present in our thoughts. Take this opportunity to look at where we are and where we are heading. Imagine peace starting with peace in our hearts, peace in our own relationships as well as peace seeping into the larger conflicts of our time.

With today’s dedication ceremony, we express that fundamental human desire to have peace, to avoid violence, to see fellow human beings – not as our enemies – but as our brothers and sisters, to stimulate that global trend toward a culture of peace. When people walk by this monument to peace, we hope it causes them to think about its message of peace within their own heart, with their family, their community and carry that message: May peace prevail on earth. May this pole stand as a reminder for you to take the path of peace.  May it raise awareness and inspire a new generation of peace makers!

Thank you to Nancy Sohn, our FVJN president for coming up with the idea to purchase a peace pole as a gift to our community, to the  FVJN Board for supporting the idea and to Mike Simon for arranging the installation of it and for UUSG (Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva) for providing this venue to dedicate it.

Rachel & I have selected a song for our PP Dedication, “Peace, Salaam, Shalom”.

Responsive Reading

May Peace Prevail on Earth

Leader: We dedicate now, not only this physical object, this peace pole, this symbol of our great desire, but also ourselves to the cause of peace.  We pledge ourselves as the embodiment of the words here inscribed: May Peace Prevail on Earth.

Leader: If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. (Mother Teresa)

ParticipantsMay we recall and embrace our connection.

Leader: The single clenched fist lifted and ready, or the open hand held out and waiting. Choose: For we meet by one or the other. (Carl Sandburg)

ParticipantsMay we have the wisdom and the courage to choose the open hand.

Leader: If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.

(Moshe Dayan)

ParticipantsTogether may we learn to talk to our enemies, and to listen to them.

Leader: The only alternative to coexistence is co-destruction. (Jawaharlal Nehru)

ParticipantsMay we choose existence over destruction, curiosity over fear.

Leader: Peace is not something you wish for; it’s something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away. (Robert Fulghum)

ParticipantsMay this day mark the beginning anew of our resolve to make peace, do peace, be peace, give peace.

Leader: Most people think of peace as a state of Nothing Bad Happening, or Nothing Much Happening. Yet if peace is to overtake us and make us the gift of serenity and well-being, it will have to be the state of Something Good Happening. (E. B. White)

ParticipantsMay the small Something Good that is the installation of this peace pole be but the seed of a more profound Something Good Happening in our hearts, our community, our

nation, and our world.

Leader: Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

ParticipantsMay we be granted the patience, faith and wisdom that nonviolence demands.

Leader: The pursuit of peace resembles the building of a great cathedral. It is the work of a generation. In concept it requires a master-architect; in execution, the labors of many. (Hubert Humphrey)

ParticipantsMay an architect of peace  emerge sooner rather than later, and may we, each in our way, willingly, hopefully, prayerfully take up the labor of peace.

All: Let us strive for peace within ourselves and within our world; to actively work in nonviolent ways to abolish war and injustices from our own hearts and from the face of the earth. We pray for our world leaders that they will reject the violence of war and work for conflict resolution and justice through negotiation and diplomacy. May our Peace Pole be a reminder to us and a witness to our community of our commitment to work for a just and peaceful world.

May it be so, and amen.

Closing: Chimes of Peace for all Continents

We’d like to finish this dedication by wishing for peace on each of the 7 continents.  I’ll say the name of each continent, and each time Rachel will sound the chime, then please join me in repeating: May Peace Prevail on Earth!