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In Her Footsteps- Peacewalker's Dream
- Stonewalk Japan 2005
In Her Footsteps
by Vicki Hurst - www.yourworldpeace.com
2004, Viki Hurst set out by motor home to encourage people to take personal
responsibility for world peace. Viki is the author of Let It Begin
With You: Your Personal World Peace Guidebook and is currently writing
a book about her nationwide peace tour.
Though Peace Pilgrim was the inspiration for my 10,000-Mile World Peace
Tour last year, I was always fully aware during that spectacular journey
that my own adventure could hardly hold a candle to the challenge Peace
Pilgrim set for herself. Six months on the road in a brand new motor
home doesn’t come close to a nearly 30-year walking pilgrimage
without even a sleeping bag or umbrella. And yet she said not everyone
would be a peace pilgrim like she was, and she said everyone had different
needs. She simply encouraged each person to find his or her own “need
level” and each of us our own unique calling, and in early 2003
I found mine.
Like Peace, I sold my home and furniture, and a lot of other things,
before setting off on my own journey. Unlike Peace, I brought a mini-house
– my motor home -- with me. Like her, I was called to say something
about world peace and to raise people from their apathy, which she said
was the ultimate job of a pilgrim. Unlike Peace, I decided to stop journeying
at the six-month mark.
Peace never asked for food but ate only when it was offered to her,
and when it wasn’t offered, she found edible berries, fruit and
greens on the road. I, on the other hand, had no problem going into
the nearest grocery store and asking where I might find my favorite
frozen dessert, which I would place in my fully stocked freezer. Peace
slept on the highways and byways unless someone offered her shelter
and a bed, whereas I was sleeping every night on the best mattress I’d
ever slept on in that little motor home. She walked until her navy blue
tennis shoes fell off her feet. I was never able to make up my mind
between the black boots or the brown ones, so I took both (along with
six other pairs of shoes, because you never know when you’re going
to need an extra pair of sandals).
Then again, here’s how I was like the woman I often refer to as
my “True North:”
both set out in a time of war – she during the Korean War, I
during the war in Iraq. Her pilgrimage may have seemed a little out
of step with the times – Americans were giddy with the victory
of World War II when she started out, and activism wasn’t as
glamorous back then as it later became. But she got a lot of press
coverage anyway, because her message and her mode of carrying it were
unique. My own message was timely given the war climate, and for the
short time I was on the road, I too picked up interest from the media,
and on many occasions was given the privilege of speaking my truth
Peace Pilgrim, I found my peacemaking role at midlife -- a little
later than she did, actually. Peace Pilgrim was 40-something, I in
my 50s. In both our cases, age wasn’t a factor. We were called
to do something for the cause of peace, and we answered the call right
then and there.
a keen sense of adventure. I love going places I’ve never been
before, and not as a tourist. I want to take the furthest reaches
on my path and sometimes veer off of it. I want to stretch and do
things other people might not do, or might even consider crazy. Peace
Pilgrim had the same questing nature, the same delight for life. Watch
her on the video documentary, “The Sage Who Walked Her Talk,”
and you’ll notice the big smile, the arms swinging joyfully
at her sides, the wholehearted strides. Her very body movements told
the way she approached this venture of hers – with abundant
joy. From an early age she took risks and sought interesting challenges
and that became her life’s theme – risks and challenges.
of my beliefs are similar to Peace Pilgrim’s. First, I believe,
as she did, that each individual has a special and unique role to
play in the making of peace on earth. Second, like Peace Pilgrim,
I believe war is not necessarily the problem, but a symptom of deep,
underlying human disturbances like poverty, ignorance and prejudice.
Attacking war without addressing its causes directly and fervently
is useless. Fortunately, I believe as Peace did that we have all the
resources we need for addressing the root causes of war. Third, I
am clear that world peace comes from inner peace – which requires
a focus on one’s own relationship with the world. And finally,
I believe that there is more power in working for the right things
than in fighting against the wrong things . . . a notion Peace began
to express frequently several years into her journey. She posited
a simple yet astounding vision for peace that included a Department
of Peace within our government; enough water, food and shelter for
everyone on earth; and grassroots organizations that worked alongside
our larger governments. While she was outspoken about her abhorrence
of war, she put most of her energy into praying, walking and speaking
for the things that meant world peace for her. That was my approach,
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have followed
in the footsteps of the great Peace Pilgrim, even if it was from behind
the steering wheel of a 24-foot “peace-mobile.” May Peace’s
story and her work continue to inspire us to work and pray for peace.
summer marks the 60th anniversary of the bombings of Nagasaki
On August 6th and 9th of 1945 the dark side of the Atomic Age was realized
in the dropping of bombs that caused the deaths of 270,000 civilians
who lived in those two cities. Sixty years later the world still is
home to vast stockpiles of atomic weapons. While there have been no
more Hiroshimas, our country is again at war and talk of tactical nuclear
strikes, suitcase nukes, and dirty bombs contributes to an atmosphere
of anxiety and uncertainty both in this country and around the world.
In August both cities will host memorial events that focus on their
dream that such horror never be visited on the earth again. Our long
time friend Derek hopes to help that dream come true.
Peacewalker's Dream (top)
by Derek "Walker" Youngs, British Columbia - www.peacewalker.com
"They may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not
the only one" -- John Lennon
Do you have dreams? I don't mean the ones you have at
night, but the ones when you're awake. Looking back I can see I have
spent a fair amount of my lifetime dreaming, as it's the first step
I take before venturing out into the unknown. For almost twenty years
now I have dreamed of walking in Japan, and now that dream is about
to come true.
I took my first step in walking for peace in 1986, during the Great
Peace March, when I walked with 500 people across the USA. This was
one of those rare opportunities in life, that leapt out at me crying,
“YES!" and changed my life forever.
During that walk, a friend tried to teach me how to make a peace crane.
You know those origami birds? To make them, you have to remember about
twenty folds! I protested (meaning I was afraid and embarrassed). He
insisted I could do it, but here's a secret for you: I can be quite
adept at pulling back when I get shy. So, I didn't make a crane - not
during that walk, anyway.
A year later, I found myself walking to Athens, Greece with seven Japanese
monks. Upon our arrival, we were to honor the memory of the thousands
of people killed when nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
And guess what? We had to make peace birds. Groan. The head monk approached
me with a sheaf of multi-colored paper, saying, "Start making your
I immediately went into shy mode, protesting vigorously, "I can't
do this, I've tried and my brain just can't do it! Sorry...." Unfazed,
the monk looked at me sternly, and said, "Here." I countered
with my most powerful whining. When I was finished, he shoved the papers
in my hand, saying, "Do," and turned away. With my head now
glued to my chest, I shuffled off to a corner and learned.
About six months later I was thumbing through a book and came across
a true story about a young girl named Sadako
Sasaki. Sadako was only two years old when the atom bomb was dropped
on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.
As she grew up, she became strong, courageous and athletic. In 1954,
at age eleven, while practicing for a big race, she became dizzy and
fell to the ground. Sadako was diagnosed with leukemia, the "atom
bomb disease", and was immediately hospitalized.
Sadako's best friend told her of an old Japanese legend, which said
that, anyone who folds a thousand origami paper
cranes would be granted a wish. Sadako hoped that the gods would
grant her wish to get well so that she could run again. She spent fourteen
months in the hospital, folding over 1,300 paper cranes, out of medicine
bottle wrappers and any other paper she could find, before dying at
the age of twelve.
Inspired by Sadako's courage and strength, her friends and schoolmates
rallied children all over Japan to raise funds to build a memorial to
her and all the children killed by the atom bomb. In 1958, a statue
of Sadako holding a golden crane was unveiled in the Hiroshima Peace
Memorial. Today, people all over the world fold paper cranes and send
them to this monument.
I found myself sobbing as I looked at the photo of the statue covered
with thousands and thousands of peace birds. I cried that day not only
for Sadako, but also for the countless innocent millions who have died
and those who continue to die as a result of war.
Before closing the book, I took a vow to continue walking for peace,
and to tell the story of Sadako. I have made
over 2,600 birds, and probably told Sadako's story almost as many times.
I do this to keep the spirit of peace alive. I firmly believe that in
all our struggles for a saner world for our children, if we do not keep
that spirit alive, we are doomed.
That day I dreamed of walking in Hiroshima and placing my peace bird
on Sadako's monument. It was a dream, and not a goal, which meant I
had a lifetime to get there and the whole world to walk through. Now,
seventeen countries and over twenty-three thousand kilometres later,
my dream will soon come true.
There are 40,000 to 50,000 nuclear weapons stocked in the world today,
a number equivalent to one million Hiroshima-type A-bombs. This is enough
to wipe out our earth’s population dozens of times over. No longer
do just the US and Russia have nuclear devices. China, France, India,
Israel, Pakistan and Britain also have nuclear weapons, with another
raft of countries racing to develop them. This now means regional conflicts
also have the capacity to lead to nuclear devastation. The threat of
our leaders plunging us into a nuclear holocaust is greater than ever
- and it is growing. As Arundhati Roy, the Indian author and campaigner,
said, “This world of ours is 4,600,000,000 years old. It could
end in an afternoon.”
August 6th, 2005 is the 60th anniversary of that horrific nuclear bombing.
In the Japanese culture, the number 60 is very important. In our society,
the age of 65 is considered a milestone. I can't imagine a more fitting
time in my life to walk in to Hiroshima, place my origami crane at the
memorial, and say a simple prayer for Peace. Later I will meet with
Emiko Okado, a Hibakusha (survivor of the nuclear attack) who has devoted
her life to peace. After that, I have the opportunity to visit Nagasaki
to attend its memorial events.
My dream of walking to Japan will be complete, but between you and me,
there is another one living in my heart. I dream of continuing my walk
for peace and making peace birds until my last breath. For I cannot
allow the spirit of peace to die.
With clasped, hands, love and respect.
"Not all who wander are lost"
For additional information visit Derek’s website
and click on the Hiroshima link.
||"I will write Peace on your wings
and you will fly all over the world." -- Sadako Sasaki
Stonewalk Japan - July 2 to August 4, 2005
In our last issue webmaster and newsletter editor Bruce Nichols shared
a short article written while participating in last summer’s “Stonewalk”
from Boston to New York City. That project, sponsored by September 11th
Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and the Peace Abbey, moved a memorial
stone to “Unknown Civilians Killed in War” by human power
the 220 road miles between those two cities.
This summer the stone will be on the move again and Bruce will once
again be helping push the five thousand pound caisson – this time
from Nagasaki to Hiroshima Japan. Peaceful Tomorrows and the Peace Abbey
are again organizing the walk along with a group of atom bomb survivors
and other Japanese peace groups. The walk will begin on July 2 and conclude
in Hiroshima on August 4, two days before the 60th anniversary of the
bombing of that city.
In a letter to the organizers Tadatoshi Akiba the mayor of Hiroshima
wrote, “I find deep significance in the Stone Walk Japan 2005
Nagasaki-Hiroshima, which will move a one-ton stone from Nagasaki to
Hiroshima for the cause of peace. Let me commend all the persons involved
with the project. I ask all of you to continue to hold the memories
of Hiroshima in your heart, and to join us in working with all your
might to make 2005 a year of hope, one in which sprouts for the abolition
of nuclear weapons burst forth.”
For additional information and to track the pro-gress of the walkers
visit these websites:
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