Last year, while visiting a museum in South Korea, I came upon an ancient bell. The label read “The sound of the chimes symbolizes the sound of truth, which can enlighten all sentient beings” – from the 10th century Goryeo Dynasty. Moved by these words, I felt a deeper significance of ringing bells.
Ring Bells for Peace & World without War began in 2007, while organizing Universal Peace Day at The Riverside Church in NYC. I had envisioned ringing bells at the exact moment of the Hiroshima bombing and began the A Peal for Peace Bell Project. Carol Nixon, Director of Social Justice at the church, embraced the idea and The Riverside Church was the first church and only church to toll its bells at the exact moment of the Hiroshima bombing at 7:15PM on August 5th in NYC (8:15AM on August 6th in Japan).
Last year, seven years later, bells literally rang around the world including Japan, New Zealand, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico, around the U.S. and in ten New York City churches bells rang including Trinity Church, St John the Divine, St. Barts, Grace Church, St John’s Lutheran Church, and Middle Collegiate Church. To see all the locations that rang bells, go to: http://bit.ly/map_of_Bells.
In life, one has no idea of where their destiny will lead. It’s hard to believe 31 years ago in 1984, I organized the first Universal Peace. At the time, I was the founder and director of ART FOR THE PEOPLE (AFP), in which artists came together to create art in public spaces. One day an acquaintance asked me to help create a global event that Marilyn Ferguson, the author of “The Aquarium Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in Our Time”, was organizing. The name of the event was World War Four (WW4). The concept was to have everyone on your side before you came out fighting. At an upcoming AFP’s Summer Solstice celebration at the World Trade Center, I gave out flyers to meet the following week to plan WW4. To my surprise over 20 people showed up. We were all in agreement that we didn’t liked the name and after much discussion, we decided to rename World War Four to Universal Peace Day. The goal of Universal Peace Day is to commemorate anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing by transforming a remembrance of horror into a re-dedication to life and Peace
The first UPday was magical. It took place in the Rambles, a secluded place in NYC’s Central Park. Although it was raining, the day began with a sunrise Crystal Meditation, afterwards the crystals were given out to plant around the world as seeds of peace. Throughout the day, artists, performers and poets shared their messages of peace and at 3PM a Native American conducted a ceremony and sun came out. At 7:15PM, the exact moment of the Hiroshima bombing, musicians played as we lit candles for a candle lighting ceremony. Then to everyone’s surprise and delight Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary appeared and sang a medley of songs. It was indeed an extraordinary day.
Each year has been very special. Over the years, many notable personalities have participated in UPday including Pete Seeger, Richie Havens, Odetta, John Hall, David Amram, Robert Thurman and Chief Jake Swamp of the Mohawk Nation as well as hibakusha (Hiroshima survivors), Tomiko West and Koji Kobayashi at various locations around New York City–including Central Park’s Bandshell, Dag Hammersjkold Plaza, Battery Park, Union Square Park with concerts at The Riverside Church, Church Center of the UN, NY Buddhist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, and the St John’s Lutheran Church.
This year being a historical year of the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the bombings, let’s remember the devastation of the dropping of the atomic bombs on millions of innocent people – those who died and those who survived – suffering from the aftermath as outcasts and plagued by cancer.
As quoted by the 10th century Goryeo Dynasty “The sound of the chimes symbolizes the sound of truth, which can enlighten all sentient beings”
May the sounds of bells resound around the world this year on the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing enlighten and awaken all to World Peace. To find the time in your location go to: http://www.thetimezoneconverter.com
(8:15AM August 6th in Japan).
Please join in ringing bells in this year’s call for Peace & World without War and say: No More Hiroshima! No More Nagasaki! No More War!!!
Please share where you will be ringing bells, photos and video at: www.facebook.com/ringbells4peace
www.universalpeaceday.org • mailto:ringbells4Peace@gmail.com
Su Zen is an fine art photographer, designer, educator and peace activist. In 1984, she organized the first Universal Peace Day, which has become an annual event in New York City and around the world.
While organizing Universal Peace Day at The Riverside Church in 2007, she began an appeal for the Peace Bell Project. The Riverside Church was the first church to toll its bells. Seven years later bells literally rang around the world in Japan, New Zealand, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico, U.S. and New York City churches including Trinity Church, The Riverside Church, St John the Divine, St. Barts, Grace Church, St John’s Lutheran Church, Marble Collegiate Church and Middle Collegiate Church. To see a map of place that rang bells in 2014, go to: http://bit.ly/map_of_Bells.