There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them. One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought it was a perfect picture of peace. The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest. The King chose the second picture as the winner. “Because,” explained the King, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.” ~Author Unknown~
THE PEACE SYMBOL
The anti-nuclear emblem or the peace sign is one of the most widely known symbols in the world. It was invented on the request of Lord Bertrand Russell, head of the British ‘campaign for nuclear disarmament’ or CDN and sponsor of mass marches and sit-downs in London. the graphic symbol was designed by Gerald Holtom, a member of the CND movement, as the badge of the ’direct action committee against nuclear war’, for the first demonstration against Aldermaston (a British research center for the development of nuclear weapons) in 1958. Holtom, a professional designer and a graduate of the London royal college of arts, had originally considered using the Christian cross symbol within a circle as the motif for the march, but various priests he had approached with the suggestion were not happy at the idea of using the cross on a protest march.
From a design point of view, it is interesting to note that the original sketches are preserved at the school of peace studies, at the Bradford University. They show a symbol that stood for ‘the death of man and the unborn child’ and that symbol was designed from the naval code of semaphore – the code letters for N and D (nuclear disarmament).
N is two flags, arms down stretched at a forty-five degree angle, and D is two flags, one arm straight up and one straight down. the ends of the ‘arms’ and ‘legs’ thicken and splay out noticeably as they approach the circumference. The circle itself was thick – the thickening itself has two versions: in one, all the straight strokes are thickened; in the other, only those in the lower half of the circle. It is said, that the reason for the symbol being upside down (D over N) is that semaphore is a military code and upside down symbolizes ‘anti-military’.
The symbol was quickly adopted in the US when a friend of Martin Luther king Jr., Bayard Rustin began using it during civil rights marches. The power of this symbol is emphasized by the fact that various far-right and fundamentalist American groups, during the 1970s, seriously considered forbidding it (they have spread the idea of satanic associations and condemned it as a communist sign). In South Africa, under the apartheid regime, there was an official attempt to ban it.
Also anti-Vietnam war protesters picked it up, and it was called ’the footprint of the great American chicken’ by many American soldiers during the Vietnam War era.
Deliberately never copyrighted, the symbol is still recognized in Great Britain as the logo for nuclear disarmament, but is known worldwide for peace and non-violence. No one has to pay or to seek permission before they use it. As a symbol of freedom, it is free for all. This of course sometimes leads to its use, or misuse, in circumstances that CND and the peace movement find distasteful. It is also often exploited for commercial, advertising or generally fashion purposes.
‘We can’t stop this from happening and have no intention of copyrighting it. All we can do is to ask commercial users if they would like to make a donation. Any money received is used for CND’s peace education and information work.’ says the campaign for nuclear disarmament website.