Silent Statements

BY CHRIS WILSON // DEC. 14, 2012 //

There’s a quiet movement on campus to give peace a chance, but it’s so quiet few people actually know about it.

There are two peace poles on Curry's campus; one near the tennis courts, and another (above) behind the registrar's office. // COURTESY PHOTO //

There are two peace poles on Curry’s campus; one near the tennis courts, and another (above) behind the registrar’s office. // COURTESY PHOTO //

In two separate locations, near the tennis courts and behind the registrar’s office, “peace poles” stand as mini monuments to the dream of world peace. The four-sided obelisks feature the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” with each side of the poles featuring a different language. The first pole has English, Spanish, Hebrew and Swahili, while the other has English, Spanish, French and Russian.

The World Peace Prayer Society, a group founded by Japanese spiritualist and humanitarian Masahisa Goi in 1955, created the concept of the peace pole. The poles were used to spread a message of peace following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan by the United States during World War II. Since 1985, poles have been manufactured in the U.S., and buyers can customize the material and shape, as well as the languages featured on them.

But why are they at Curry and how did they get here?

The first peace pole, by the tennis courts, was purchased and placed two years ago by the student group R.A.G.E., which works to educate students about alcohol and substance abuse, among other issues. According to Therese Hofmann, director of spiritual life at Curry, the pole was in reaction to incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti on campus. The hope was to place a garden around the pole, but the students ended up running out of time.

A garden was successfully placed around the second peace pole. According to Mary Dunn, director of human resources, the idea for the pole came after the passing of longtime nursing professor Harlene Caroline in January 2011. Science Professor Marlene Samuelson, who was familiar with the peace poles and had worked with the RAGE students to purchase and install the first one on campus, led the charge. The pole and garden area were developed this past summer.

“We decided to centrally locate a meditative spot on campus in which those who have passed from the Curry community could be remembered,” Dunn explained. A tree to honor Caroline, as well as a plaque, will be installed during the spring semester, Dunn added.

Andrew Devine, a senior communication major who is seemingly among the few students on campus aware of the peace poles, said he believes they send the right message.

“It’s great that Curry is taking a more international view on peace,” he said, “and I think that we could use the peace poles to promote peace here on campus.”

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