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Speech for International Day of Peace, 2013

by Barbara Boughton, Executive Director

CPC's Executive Director, Barbara Boughton, spoke at the International Day of Peace celebration at the Railroad Street Youth Project, in Great Barrington, MA.

Good Morning.

My name is Barbara Boughton, the Executive Director of the Center for Peace through Culture or CPC.

It's really great to be here with people who are passionate about peace!

This is not the first time that the CPC is collaborating with the International Day of Peace, and it is a pleasure to now expand this collaboration to Railroad Street Youth Project (RSYP).

Yevin Roh asked me to invite Congressman Dennis Kucinich to this event. Unfortunately he was not available, but I'm sure he is linked with us today in Peace. For those of you who don't know Congressman Kucinich, he has worked tirelessly to bring a Department of Peace to our government. We are very fortunate to have him on our CPC advisory board.

I had the pleasure of knowing Amanda Root, the founder of RSYP, when we were neighbors on Railroad Street and have been continually inspired and impressed by the growth of your organization.

I have just a few minutes to speak, so I will be succinct in my remarks and as we all know I have a time limit! At noon we will sound the GONG to issue in a moment of silence and to join our hearts and intentions with others around the world who are imagining a world at peace.

The CPC was founded 25 years ago. One of our major inspirations is the Nobel Peace Nominee, statesman, artist, archeologist, and philosopher Nicholas Roerich. Roerich's Banner of peace shows three circles which represent art, science, and philosophy. The idea was to fly this banner over cultural institutions during war time to preserve the creative spirit and achievements of our civilizations. This Banner and Peace Pact was signed by 35 heads of state of countries worldwide.

So how does this translate to present time? And what is the CPC doing now?

  • Around 4 years ago the CPC incubated the Greenagers. Brenda Mathieson was the first director. Will Conklin is currently the very skilled director, leading an extremely successful program that enlists teens in the area to increase community engagement through environmental initiatives. They have graduated and are becoming an independent organization.
  • In 2011 we presented a Peace Conference in collaboration with Hancock Shaker Village. We were honored to have Congressman Dennis Kucinich as our keynote.
  • Last September, marking the 2012 International Day of Peace and in collaboration with the Guthrie Center, we presented workshops and an evening concert featuring 11 singers and songwriters from Berkshire County.
  • During the same weekend the Evolutionary Peace Summit was born. Ursula Velonis, PhD, created this online summit with topics including Peace as culture, Peace as evolving consciousness, Peace as education, and Peace as science. This leadership program celebrates inner peace as the true source of outer peace in all it's manifestations.
  • The Evolutionary Peace Leadership Program is continuing in 2014 along with our newest initiative: The Healing Alliance (THA). The Healing Alliance initiative's mission is: To enhance healing and well being for patients, their families, and their caregivers through the arts and sciences. The Healing Alliance professionals will be providing services to Berkshire County's cancer centers, nursing homes, and hospices. Services will include using the arts for healing, tai chi, Restorative Yoga, Music for Healing and Transition, memoir, and body-mind medicine.

Please visit our website for details about all of our programs; yes, there are more!

The CPC is one slice of this delicious, juicy, peace pie!

in our "best little small town in America," as Great Barrington was designated in the Smithsonian Magazine, we are sitting in the middle of a marvelous myriad of non-profits that are actively working to create a culture of peace; using the arts, pyschology, healing modalities, education, and nature. I would like to applaud:

Community Access to the Arts (cata), Orion, Web Dubois, Riverwalk, Greenagers, Bridge, the Guthrie Center, Railroad Street Youth Project, Center for Peace through Culture, the new Fairground, Project Native, Construct, Berkshire Grown, and others that I may not be aware of!

All of this right here!

We are a planet that is not at peace.

There is so much war, trauma, needless suffering inside and out.

How do we free ourselves? How do we heal? How can we become peacebuilders?

What started as a gospel children's song around 1920 by Harry Dixon Loes then became a civil rights anthem in the 50's and 60's.

"This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine." What a powerful statement! Take a moment to reflect on this.

Tthis little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine." How do we do this?

How do we clear out the darkness and the shadows?

We begin by creating peace in ourselves. One of the missions of the CPC is to promote a pyschology of peace. How do we let go of our past traumas, our resentments, and our anger, to make room for the light so we can shine?

The therapeutic process is an important one. Find someone who is right for your situation and heal.

If you aspire to be a peace builder, it's not ok to be an "angry" one!

Another one of my inspirations is Nanette Hucknall, who happens to be here today. Nanette is one of the founders of the CPC and her new book Higher Self Yoga is hot off the press. This book is filled with practical exercises to help you "look at many of your obstacles to peace." The book is for sale, and she would be happy to meet you and sign her book.

So while you are cleaning out the past darkness, take on mentors, teachers, and spiritual leaders and learn to become a leader in what you are passionate about.In this case, peace! And as we already mentioned, peace comes in many permutations....Through art, through healing, etc. "Let it shine" "let your light shine."

I was very lucky to be listening to NPR a few weeks ago when congressman John Lewis from Georgia, who marched with Martin Luther King, was being interviewed. I now have his new book, Across that Bridge, where he says:

"Our purpose while we are on this earth, in the most basic sense, is to be a light that shines—to fully express our gifts so that others might see. When they witness our splendor, when we show them it is possible to shine radiantly even in the darkest night, they begin to remember that they are stars also, meant to light up the world....Be a mentor to encourage others to create and flourish."

The International Day of Peace is a grand mentor that brings people from around the globe to shine in unity and celebrate peace. I have known Michael Johnson for almost 30 years and his peace efforts are palpable! Thank you Michael!

so, become a leader. Peace is not a given, we have to work for it!

And one more final eloquent quote from John Lewis. "The work of love, peace, and justice will always be necessary, until their realism and their imperative takes hold of our imagination, crowds out any dream of hatred or revenge, and fills up our existence with the power of peace."

We are now going to sound the gong 3 times.