Peace Out

Peace SymbolIn the early ’70s, I wore a peace shirt. That is, it had a peace sign on it. For some reason, this caused little consternation . . . and I lived in an army town. Then again, Canada wasn’t at war in the ’70s. In fact, Canadians were peacekeepers.

But the idyllic ’70s are dead and buried, and Canada is currently in Afghanistan trying to do what the old superpower, the Soviet Union, could not. Interesting. And darned if I know what happened to the shirt.

So . . . where did the peace symbol come from?

There’s plenty of documentation to support this view:

In 1958, Bertrand Russell and Canon John Collins formed the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). They organized a four-day march from London to Aldermaston — where England’s nuclear program was centered — and introduced CND’s symbol

. . . what was generally referred to world-wide as ‘the peace sign.’

The CND March

Photo courtesy BECTU History Project

A brief history of the CND may be seen at the CND site. Another view may be read in the article, ‘Whatever happened to CND?‘ from the BBC News website.

The CND symbol was an amalgam of the semaphore ‘N’ (for ‘nuclear’) and ‘D’ (‘disarmament’) and was carried by marchers as lollipop-like signs. A forest of them may be seen on display during a CND march, below:

Oooh, lolly-lolly pop
Photo courtesy BECTU History Project

So what’s the big deal? A philosopher and a churchman decided to form a group protesting nuclear weaponry manufacture and proliferation and have a symbol designed. The symbol’s meaning evolves from meaning nuclear disarmament to ‘peace’ and Pagosa Springs, Colorado goes nuts?

Okay, so America is at war . . . but isn’t peace, ultimately, its objective? Anyone’s objective?

Certainly, there exist people who do not want peace at all — who want to war for God, for instance . . . despite the evident impotence of any god who needs people to fight for him. Be assured that an Entity capable of creating “everything made that was made” really doesn’t need your help or mine to take down people who don’t like Him.

There are other theories about the peace sign’s genesis. Stephen King researched this for a dormitory confrontation in ‘Hearts in Atlantis‘. Non-CND theories didn’t fare well, therein.

I remember a Jack Chick publication. ‘The Broken Cross‘, which stated that witches had to renounce the Christian God by turning a ceramic cross upside down and breaking off the arms (thus creating a peace sign, y’see). I know of no witches (and I do know a few . . . you may, too, though you may be unaware of this) who underwent this or similar initiations, but one should note that Mr Chick’s work isn’t always the most factual. As I remember, he blames most of the planet’s ills on the Catholic church.

Lisa Jensen’s and Bill Trimarco’s displaying a Christmas wreath in the shape of a peace sign calls to mind the heralding of Christ’s birth in Luke: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will toward men.”

Frankly, ’tis the season, and a little peace and good will shouldn’t make people writhe in horror . . . or charge $25 /day to punish someone for having the audacity to herald it.

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Incidentally, the peace sign at the beginning of this piece is courtesy of peacesymbol.org