Through a proclamation, Davis is taking one small step in the worldwide effort to promote world peace.
Today the Davis City Council will be making the proclamation for the World March for Peace and Nonviolence at 6:30 p.m. at the City Hall building.
Now in its third week, the worldwide march was started by a group of 25 marchers in New Zealand on Oct. 2 and has made its way through over 100 countries. The march promotes nonviolent causes such as nuclear disarmament and the signing of nonaggression treaties. The proclamation today is a prelude to the march in Sacramento, where people will meet on Dec. 2 at noon on the West Capitol Steps. The march will end in Punta de Vacas, Argentina on Jan. 2, 2010.
Davis City Councilmember and UC Davis Alumnus Lamar Heystek, who spearheaded Davis’ involvement in the proclamation, will be a keynote speaker at the event.
“Peace and nonviolence are grand concepts but they can be implemented in practical ways in our community,” Heystek said. “I’m hoping this will inspire us in Davis to get more involved with these issues.”
U.S. World March spokesperson Chris Wells has been working with the march for about a year.
“Enough is enough,” Wells said. “Tens of thousands of children die of hunger every day and a small percentage of what the world spends on weapons could feed them.”
For Trudi Lee Richards, Davis and Sacramento march coordinator, world peace holds personal meaning.
“This is something that gives great meaning to my life,” Richards said. “I had my twin girls 28 years ago when everyone was worried about the [atomic] bomb. I was terrified that my daughters would grow up in a holocaust and that’s when I started working for peace and as I kept working my fears went away.”
Woodland High School’s Peer Mediators will speak at the proclamation ceremony. The Peer Mediator program allows high school teens to work to promote peaceful conflict resolution among their peers.
Senior Peer Mediator Gina Alvarado trains other mediators and has been involved with mediation for two years.
“There’s so much violence in the world over the most ridiculous reasons,” Alvarado said. “We’re hoping this will show people that there are things to do besides fighting and help them to just get along and have civil conversations.”
The event will showcase current efforts to promote nonviolence by people like Alavarado and educate others about the issues that the march addresses.
“We really want to spotlight young peoples’ roles in the effort for peace and nonviolence in hopes that we can bring this sort of thing to schools around Davis,” said Heystek.
Anyone can join the march and participants may march as far as they choose – whether it be for a mile or all the way to Argentina.
“Anyone who wants to join the march is free to do so,” Alvarado said. “We expect anywhere from a few hundred to a couple thousand people.”
The march has seen tremendous success around the world, attracting millions of people. Highlights include the formation of the world’s largest peace sign in the Philippines and over 7,000 Italians singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.” In India, Tara Gandhi Bhattacharji, Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter, joined the march.
Alvarado said peace is a conscious choice.
“I used to resolve my problems violently, but I see now that violence won’t accomplish anything,” she said. “I’m choosing a peaceful life rather than a hateful one.”
Richards hopes the march will give people the initiative to bring change to the world.
“We hope to help people realize that it’s in our power to change the dark direction our world is headed in through mutual support and solidarity,” said Richards. “We can show that humans are not limited to violence and destruction and that we can work together for a better future.”
Wells believes everyone can contribute.
“The march is built with initiatives so people are free to do what they want, from something very simple to something bigger,” said Wells. “You can be creative and you can be part of building the new world.”
JANE TEIXEIRA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.