Ira Harritt, AFSC Kansas City Program Coordinator, shows his hand at Visions of Peace at the Crossroads, a peace / arts festival held in the Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City on June 1. For more photos from the festival, please click here.Photo: AFSC / Jon Krieg
What’s your vision of peace?
That’s the question which AFSC and dozens of other endorsing and tabling organizations asked hundreds of Kansas Citians at the Visions of Peace at the Crossroads festival on June 1. Young AFSC volunteers encouraged passers-by to use markers to portray their peace visions on their hands. Dozens more youth created peace murals in advance of the event. Participants’ visions ranged from the personal to the political, though several common themes prevailed. One young woman who was promoting artwork created by people with disabilities said that, “Peace means being nice to each other and treating people as you’d like to be treated.” To another woman, peace involves “cooperative economics and world community – the opposite of corporations” and “peaceful co-habitation with each other while not destroying our planet.”
Mike Murphy, AFSC supporter, KKFI community radio host and emcee for the event, said that while peace is sometimes viewed as being passive or representing the absence of war, he also sees peace as being “proactive, nurturing, and full of compassion. We need to enlarge our circles of compassion,” according to Mike, “so that we can empathize with everyone; then we’ll all be better off.”
Others kept their messages very simple, drawing a peace symbol or a heart to express their vision. AFSC’s youth volunteers helped capture images by photo and video and created personalized peace buttons for festival participants. (See Lend Us Your Hand for Peace video at this link on our Facebook page.)
At the same time, several musicians and poets shared their peace messages from the stage. A spoken-word duet called “The Recipe” delivered two powerful performances, including this scathing rebuke of the new $720 million nuclear weapons plant being built on the south side of Kansas City. They asked, “How many lives must we sacrifice?”
That question hit home with two members of Veterans for Peace, who staffed an information table. A veteran of the Korean War said, “Peace means we won’t have young people suffering from PTSD and we won’t have vets like myself who had to fight for 13 years for our disability status.” He added, “Peace means the world would be a different place.”
To Ira Harritt, AFSC Kansas City Program Coordinator, and the dozens of other organizers who arranged the Crossroads event, these visions give us hope for just such a different world of peace.