Jul 30, 2017
By Michael Gillotti
I created the Sebastopol Living Peace Wall in downtown Sebastopol to promote the cause of peace and justice by honoring the peacemakers among us. Every year we infuse the peace wall with life by adding four peoples’ names to the granite panels and by putting on an Induction Ceremony and Celebration.This year’s honorees are: Holly Near, Susan Lamont, Don & Dee Schilling and Charles Liteky.
This year’s Ceremony/Celebration will be held at the Peace Wall site across from the Sebastopol town square, behind the Rialto Theater, on Sunday, August 27, from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM.
Holly Near is a wonderful singer/songwriter and committed peace activist, who for many years has used her public position as an entertainer to promote peace and justice and LBGT issues. Susan Lamont is a long time associate of the Sonoma County Peace and Justice Center and has worked in a variety of roles including administrative and direct action. Dee and Don Schilling are civil rights activists who began their work in the early stages of the civil rights movement in Selma, Alabama. Charles Liteky is a former Catholic priest and medic during theVietnam War, where he was awarded the Medal of Honor. He later became a peace activist and returned his medal, which is now housed inthe Smithsonian.
What motivated me to build the Living Peace Wall was the recognition that peace activists are almost always marginalized and/or not taken seriously. Their voices are seldom heard during the lead up to war.Instead we hear from ex-generals, hawks and professional pundits, often without attribution to their connections to the military industrial complex, which benefits from war making. Nonviolent alternatives to war are rarely discussed in any serious manner.
Conflicts between individuals or nations may be inevitable, but violent resolutions are not. We must find nonviolent, peaceful resolutions to conflicts, whether they are personal, national or international.
Of course, all this starts by finding ways to become more peaceful ourselves in our daily lives.The inscription on the granite bench behind the peace wall reads:“PEACE BEGINS WITH ME.”We won’t be able to create a more peaceful world if we are not more peaceful individuals. I believe this begins with listening, listening and connecting with the peaceful spirit inside and really listening to others, especially to those with whom we disagree, in order to find the common ground” within all of us. The inscription on the central granite panel of the Living Peace Wall reads as follows:
“We honor the peacemakers, whose names are inscribed, who have during their lives worked for peace and against war, for justice and against injustice, for nonviolent resolutions and against violence and for the common good and against selfishness and greed."
By honoring these outstanding individuals we also honor all who share in the collective desire to rise above differences of race, religion, nationalities and ideologies to that place where we are all brothers and sisters, where we share a common humanity and a common desire to live in peace with all the people of the world.”
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