Public Comment

Commentary: An International Day of Peace

By Arnie Passman
Tuesday October 02, 2007

On this 138th anniversary of the birth of Mohandas K. Gandhi, and the first International Day of Nonviolence, as declared by the United Nations June 16 (celebrated in Berkeley with Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading at Moe’s), Peace For Keeps is pleased to hopefully propose a worldwide 50th anniversary celebration of the creation of Peace Symbol Feb. 21, 2008. In the wake of Sunday’s second annual Gandhi Statue Birthday Reading at the Gandhi Statue behind the San Francisco Ferry Building, great do’ers of great do’s—Yoko Ono, Kevin Wall, Richard Branscom, Earthdance, Sage Productions, Wavy Gravy, Green Century—are being contacted to make a deep winter of love 2008 (What a year, huh!) planetary do. 

The Peace Symbol was designed by World War II conscientous objector Gerard Holtom for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s march from London to the Aldermarston nuclear facility Easter Weekend, 1958. Ultimately determined by British semaphor for N and D, the Peace Symbol was inspired by the great Francisco Goya painting “The 3rd of May,” of the peasant, arms raised in plea, before a Napoleonic firing squad at the Principe Pio in 1808.  

Considered by critics from Andre Malraux to Kenneth Clark as Goya’s or even Spain’s greatest painting, it is recognized in every way as an imaginative “journalistic” and revolutionary work. “The undiminished and unrivaled prototype of all modern views of war,” wrote Goya biographer Robert Hughes.  

France’s war in Spain (1806-09) produced the definition of guerrilla war—for this was an early war involving the (R.C. plagued) Spanish public, who idiotically wished to have their idiot terrible Emperor, Ferdinand VII, (how about an Oscar nomination for Randy Quaid for his Ferdy in Milos Forman’s Goya’s Ghosts?) returned to power. (The image is on the advertising for this most recent Forman-Saul Zaentz collaboration; producer Paul Zaentz said they were not aware “The 3rd of May” was the inspiration for the Peace Symbol.) 

Following the 50th anniversary (a day for each nation to adopt its Peace Symbol song?), wouldn’t it be nice to have a 71 day peace walk from London to Madrid (not the best time of year, but it would only spring better by the end) culminating in a full mettle 200th anniversary recognition of “The 3rd of May” (the birthday of Pete Seeger and Kris Welch), hopefully with a “Power to the Peaceful” concert in the bullring or the soccer stadium? 

Or another worldwide day TO END VIOLENCE AND WAR.  

And to make the statement that the killing of one is no less horific than nuclear holocaust. Our people are everywhere, no?  

What a year, huh! 

Be my quest! 


Arnie Passman is a Berkeley resident.