Peace poles, the mass-produced ones distributed by the World Peace Prayer Society, proclaim “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in many different languages.
You pick the four languages you want. The World Peace Prayer Society estimates that there are 200,000 worldwide. There are a few in Berkeley.
The first peace pole that I knew was at 1118 Oxford Street. Rick Perlman and Pam Erenberg installed it in the early 1980s. It came with several small bags of Ready Mix concrete.
When they moved from Oxford Street to San Antonio Street they took the peace pole with them. Here they had to provide their own concrete.
Both were peace activists in the 1960s. Perlman’s father fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, and his mother was a committed leftist. Note his “Anti-Facista” t-shirt.
Some of the others found in front of Berkeley houses:
This photo is from my first Quirky Berkeley walk for the Berkeley Path Wanderers in August 2013.
Then there are the peace poles installed by institutions.
In 2013, students at Willard planted a peace pole. The story about the pole is found at the World Peace Prayer Society website.
They are a few at the entrance of the International House, 2299 Piedmont. Each has eight languages instead of the customary four.
At Zaytuna College, a non-profit Muslim liberal arts college housed in what had been the Franciscan School of Religion, is this one:
About at block away, at 2441 Le Conte, is the Universalist Unitarian Starr King School for the Ministry, a mouthful. A sweet, modest little peace pole sits in a flower bed, but its inclusion of American Sign Language signing for “May Peace Prevail on Earth” takes the cake.
I showed the photos to my friend. The photos launched him into remembering the different factions opposing the Vietnam War – the peace movement, the anti-war movement, the anti-imperialism movement, the anti-capitalist movement, etc. He claims to have walked and talked with Peace Pilgrim the day before she died in 1981. She had no organizational backing, carried no money, and would not even ask for food or shelter as she walked back and forth across the United States promoting the simple message of peace. Absent photographic or other empirical poor of my friend’s claim, I consider the story “unverified.”
Be that a it may, peace prevailing is a good sentiment. I want peace. Sometimes I feel peace, fleetingly with gusts into sustained. I want more. I want that peace train, getting nearer.
Back to my friend – what of this post and the peace poles?