May peace prevail on Earth.
That was the prevailing message on Sept. 26 when the Rotarians in Sudbury unveiled one of four new peace poles planted in Rotary Park, bringing Greater Sudbury’s count to 15.
More than a dozen folks gathered on the trail near Northern Ontario Film Studios for the unveiling, including Dr. Richard Denton, who is a driving force behind the project and who is “obsessed” with promoting peace, said club presidents Joanne Bowers (Rotary Club of Sudbury) and Shannon Kenrick-Rochon (Rotary Club of Sudbury-Sunrisers).
“Rotary connects 1.2 million members from more than 200 countries,” said Denton. “Rotary Clubs across the globe have taken up the peace pole initiative and have dedicated hundreds of them, and they stand as silent sentinels in the name of building and promoting peace.”
Peace poles have messages in eight languages, “which symbolizes ‘we all want peace,’” said Denton. “But what is peace? It is a set of attitudes, values, modes of behaviour, and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflict by tackling the root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation.”
Lori Adams has been the Canadian representative for the World Peace Prayer Society since 1997. She provided a brief history of the peace pole campaign.
The Peace Pole Project is an official project of The World Peace Prayer Society (WPPS) headquartered at The World Peace Sanctuary in Wassaic, New York. The sole mission of WPPS is to unite people across the world through the universal peace message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”
The Peace Pole Project was started in Japan by Masahisa Goi (1916 – 1980), who dedicated his life to spreading the message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” Goi was greatly affected by the destruction caused by the Second World War and the atomic bombs which fell on the city of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Goi’s desire to assist in the creation of world peace was answered when in 1955, the peace message, May Peace Prevail On Earth, came to him in a moment of great inspiration and deep prayer, said the website, peacepoles.com.
After Goi authored the Universal Peace Message in 1955, many people gathered in support of his vision and activities to spread the Peace Message were promoted throughout Japan. Soon after, Peace Poles inscribed with the Peace Message began to appear in various locations across Japan, initiating the start of The Peace Pole Project.
Today, there are more than 200,000 peace poles in more than 190 countries.
“I suggest that peace is simply not the absence of war,” Adams said. “We create peace when we work to build a world that is founded in respect, equality, justice and fairness. Planting and dedicating a peace pole to demonstrate a shared commitment to building a peaceful world is significant for a community.”
Sudbury’s own peace poles are a symbol for people to reflect upon the areas of peace, within ourselves, within our community and within our world, said Dr. Denton.
The ceremony coincided with the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
Denton, a member of the Sudbury chapter of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, is asking residents to sign a petition against nuclear weapons. He said the petition will be presented to city council some time in the future, in hopes they will support the effort to ban nuclear weapons.
Deputy Mayor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann was part of the unveiling.
“On Sept. 21, we celebrated the International Day of Peace, and today we recognize the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, and it’s an important time to reaffirm our goal of achieving peace,” she told those in attendance. “This peace pole is a beautiful addition to Rotary Park and symbolizes our commitment to fostering a world of harmony and inclusivity.
“By embracing a diversity of cultures and celebrating both our differences and similarities, we take the necessary steps toward a more peaceful community and we must all strive to recognize the value of diversity in our lives.”
More peace poles are in the works, said Denton.
“We’re thinking about putting up a peace pole at the Bridge of Nations,” he said.