This Friday, October 2, the World March for Peace and Nonviolence kicks off in New Zealand, marking the start of the world’s first 93-day, six-continent peace march.
The march begins in Wellington, New Zealand, with an international team of 25 marchers who will cross through Asia, Europe, Africa, and North and South America before reaching Punta de Vacas, Argentina, on January 2, 2010. The group will carry the Hiroshima Flame for the duration of the journey.
Launched by the international organization World Without Wars, the World March has been endorsed by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter and other Nobel Peace Prize winners, Noam Chomsky, seven presidents, hundreds of world leaders, including Sarah Obama, President Obama’s Kenyan grandmother, and celebrities like Yoko Ono, Cate Blanchett and Viggo Mortensen, and thousands of organizations including Mayors for Peace, Abolition 2000, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, and more than a million citizens.
*“We’re living in a highly dangerous moment,”* says Chris Wells, US spokesman for the World March for Peace and Nonviolence. *”We’re all threatened by nuclear weapons. Young and old, rich and poor, all colors and faiths, all of us. And the spread of this technology is more and more out of control. There can be no peace as long as nuclear weapons exist and to avoid a future catastrophe, we must act today.”*
World leaders and prominent march endorsers agree. *“It is surprising the number of people who believe that armed intervention is the best solution to some of the problems facing the world,”* says actress Cate Blanchett. *“Yet if a small share of the money spent on weapons and armed conflict was directed to the elimination of hunger and poverty, many of the root causes of these conflicts could be solved. For the future of our children, [we must] speak out in favor of peace, nuclear disarmament and the end of violence.”*
Actress and activist Jane Fonda concurs, saying, *“The need to end wars and occupations, and to end all forms of violence against people no matter what their age, gender, sexual preference or religion, and to learn to help and heal rather than hurt our fellow human beings and this planet we live upon.”*
It is linguist Noam Chomsky, however, who brings the ideals of the World March back to the principles of Ghandi, whose Oct. 2 birthday was chosen as both the International Day of Nonviolence and the day the March begins its 93-day journey around the world. *”The World March for Peace and Non-Violence is a wonderful idea,”* says Chomsky, *“a fitting commemoration of Gandhi’s legacy on the centenary of his birth… It could hardly be more timely, and should serve as an inspiration to those who seek to fulfill the noble ideals that Gandhi’s life and work symbolized in ways that are rarely approached.”*
In the US, the march kick-off will be marked by dozens of events around the country, including:
* The formation of a human peace symbol in Santa Monica, California;
* An interfaith blessing ceremony at the New York Harbor; and
* An environmental peace walk in Richmond, Virginia.
In dozens of classrooms in various states, teachers will also be focusing on nonviolence as a way of responding to conflict.
Between November 30 and December 3, 2009, the international marchers will visit several U.S. cities (beginning in New York City), including Washington, DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
For more information, including a complete list of events, visit www.worldmarchusa.net (national) and www.theworldmarch.org (international).
**ABOUT THE WORLD MARCH**
The World March was officially launched at the Symposium of the World Center for Humanist Studies in Punta de Vacas, Argentina, on November 15, 2008. It was initiated by World Without Wars, an affiliated organization of the Humanist Movement that is internationally active in the fields of peace and disarmament. The march has five goals:
• abolition of nuclear weapons worldwide
• immediate withdrawal of invading troops from occupied territories
• progressive and proportional reduction of conventional weapons
• signing of non-aggression treaties between countries
• renunciation by governments of the use of war as a means to resolve conflicts
Nicole Myers, US Press Coordinator for the World March for Peace and Nonviolence