April 30 2010: ‘Peace and Love’ never go out of style, by Jonathan Wild

A three-day pass to the 1969 Woodstock Festival — “three days of peace and music” — cost $18. I still remember the buzz about it back then.

With nearly half a million people in attendance Woodstock attracted worldwide attention, but it was not the first time such an event had been staged in the name of peace. The folk music revival of the 1960s paved the way for the era known for Peace & Love, and Flower Power, building on the early work of artists like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie in the 1940s and ’50s.

The Korean War gave way to Viet Nam, and the civil rights movement boiled over in the ’60s, creating a situation that cried out for peace. Artists like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and groups like the Weavers and the Beatles signaled that the baby boomers, products of war and not-so inevitable peace that follows, were coming of age and that change was in the air.

In 1958, an Englishman named Gerald Holtom had designed the modern day peace symbol based on the semaphore letters for “N” and “D,” an abbreviation of “nuclear disarmament.” The symbol quickly made its way across the Atlantic to be used in civil rights marches and anti-war rallies. It was deliberately never copyrighted to stand as a true symbol for freedom.

I remember seeing the peace symbol virtually everywhere when I was attending high school in St. Louis, Mo.

In the years since then, the symbol has never completely faded from popularity. But it has recently enjoyed a terrific resurgence.

Peace seems inexorably tied in to the cycles of art, life, love, literature and of history. The idea of peace suggests freedom from petty quarrels and disagreements. It is people living together in harmony; an end to hostilities.

But it also encompasses the idea of inner peace, peace of mind and spirit, serenity and contentment. We must work diligently to make the abstract concept of peace become concrete.

The idealism of the 1960s eventually gave way to the excesses of the ’70s. Economic globalization of the ’80s led to the media explosion of the Internet in the ’90s. Somehow, despite the undisputable effects of terrorism and technology at the dawning of a new millennium, here we are in 2010, thankfully still searching for peace.
Peace unto those who continue the quest to keep the spirit of peace alive within us all.

— Jonathan Wild is an English teacher at Cloud County Community College.

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