More Than 100 Dedicate Peace Pole at City Hall

By Walter Ruehlig
Member, Interfaith Peace Project Advisory Board

Some days, thank heavens, the news isn’t about murder or mayhem or scandals of unbridled lusting or looting. Sometimes as a human race we do it right and prove the poet Alexander Pope’s appraisal right; man can sink lower than the beast or fly higher than the angels.

It was gratifying to see well over a hundred people spend 45 minutes of their lunch-time at the dedication of the Peace Pole in front of Antioch City Hall on September 12th. The skies were glorious, the ceremony equally elegant and the milk of human kindness and brotherly love flowing.

Special kudos to June Kirk for her tireless behind the scenes organizational work. As one person wisely observed, it all seemed so stress less precisely because somebody, in fact, had stressed on the pre-details.

Bouquets as well to Rev. Sierra Lynne White for her inspired music and for so gracefully leading us into centering moments in honor of 9-11 and the planting of the pole. The remarks by Mayor Davis and Rev. Bonnaci were inspired and the baritone Richard Assadoorian moved the crowd with his haunting rendition of “To Dream the Impossible Dream”.

The doves released by Terry Davis were a fitting prelude to the final emotional touching of the pole as clergy of all faiths and lay people, some in turbans, others in crew cuts, affirmed their vision of a more peaceful future.

Appreciation is extended County Board of Supervisor Mary Piepho for her attending as well as Paul Adler, representing Supervisor Federal Glover; Maurice Delmer, representing Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla; Cynthia Ruehlig, Trustee of the County Board of Education; Antioch City Council members Gary Agopian, Wade Harper, Brian Kalinowski and Mary Rocha; and City Manager Jim Jakel.

The Interfaith Peace Project, in concert with the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County, hosted the planting as a second day kickoff to the 11 Days of Peace program which started in honor of 9-11 and will end on September 21st, the U.N. sponsored International Day of Peace.

By background, the Interfaith Peace Project was founded by Rev. Bonnaci on September 8, 2011 in Carmichael, PA. Rev. Bonacci then brought his vision to California in 2006 and a year later the organization was chartered. It now maintains a Peace Center at 4740 Matterhorn Way that is open to the public for browsing or reflection and houses artifacts and thousands of books on world religions.

Planting this pole continues a tradition started by Mashahisa Goi of Japan who in 1955 wanted to make a statement on world peace. Today over 200,00 peace poles exist. The Delta Region stands, then in good company as the poles have been dedicated by the likes of Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama and Jimmy Carter and stand at sites that include the tomb of Confucius, Gorsky Park in Russia, the Pyramids at Gaza, the base of Mt. Everest and the magnetic North Pole in Canada.

By all means, drop by this splendid eight-foot cedar pole. It stands between the evergreen planted in memory of the victims of 9-11 and City Hall Plaza, right near the gas payment box. Reflect on the inscription ingrained in twelve languages; Arabic, English, Filipino, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portugese, Spanish, Urdu, Ibo: “May Peace Prevail on Earth”.

I wish us all Der Frieden, Heiwa, Kapayapaan, La Paix, La Paz, Maluhia, Mir, Peace, Shalom, Shalom! After all, world peace begins one of us at a time.

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