“The more we do together, the less time we have to fight each other,” says Bernard Weber the initiator of the 7 Symbols of Peace campaign. It’s a campaign designed to unite the world in a collective voice that says our planet must be a peaceful, shared community. To spread the message, Weber is levering his own digital platform for a global vote to elect the seven symbols that best signify peace.
When it comes to the things that symbolize peace, Weber would like to see some lateral thinking. “Take tourism,” he says. “It brings people together and promotes economic growth. That’s a real-world example of people doing things together instead of fighting each other.”
Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, he points out, with a global economic contribution (direct and indirect) of more than seven trillion US dollars. It involves transport, accommodation, hospitality and sight-seeing and emerging countries are increasingly reaping the economic benefits of the industry.
“What’s the most popular air route in the world?” Weber asks. Some might answer New York to Paris. Others would guess Beijing to Shanghai. In fact, it’s the domestic flight between Seoul and Jeju, the South Korean island that was elected one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011. Last year, almost 65,000 flights made the trip between Seoul and Jeju. Most of the tourism is domestic but there’s been a significant rise in Chinese visitors due to Jeju’s visa-free entry requirements.
In a region overshadowed by the threat of nuclear conflict, Weber sees the coming together of peoples in pursuit of happiness as one of the great positive stories of our time. Yes, he is aware of the dangers of what’s called “overtourism”, but he’s always urged the custodians of the sites that have been elected as members of the New 7 Wonders canon to preserve their heritages and foster sustainable tourism.
“We need to turn up the volume of the voice of the people so that the powerful can hear that we want peace,” says Weber, an admirer of the idealism that launched the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the 1950s in Britain. On 6 June, the CND symbol, one of the most famous international symbols of peace, visited Manchester as part of its 60th-anniversary tour across the UK and Bernard Weber marked the occasion by presenting a colourful flower version of the symbol to the organizers in the English city.
Achieving peace, he believes, will require “a dramatic shift from investment in the armament/war industry into what we can call the Peace Industry,” he says. “For this, we must nominate and elect symbols of examples of leaders, artists, writers, singers, animals, plants, places…. that have made their contribution to foster Peace.”
Peace cannot be achieved by any one person or group, but the 7 Symbols of Peace campaign is providing a digital platform for everyone who wants to add their voice, and symbol, to the debate.
Bernard Weber is the founder of the New7Wonders worldwide movement for empowering people to participate in global democracy. More than 600 million votes have been cast in the three New7Wonders elections to date.
7 Symbols of Peace: https://7symbolsofpeace.com/
New 7 Wonders of Nature: https://nature.new7wonders.com/wonders/