Wednesday, February 1, 1995
Peace marchers pass through area
Photo, not shown here, captioned:
Some of the Global Peace Walk ’95 participants included, front row, left to right: Christo Andrews, Carlton Bell, Yusen Yamato, Chief Shenandoah, Chris Daniels, John Stewart. Back row: David Williams and Nick Fowler (standing); Brian Fowler, Daniel Torrez (with peace staff), Felipe Chavez (kneeling); Akemi Tanahashi, Fermin Ferrer, Donna Patrick, and Karin Martens. Both the group’s banner on the wall and Chris’ pan of brownies proclaim “Global Peace Now.” (Photo by Barb Leese)
Peace marchers pass through area
By Barb Leese
Global Peace March ’95 passed through Franklin County this past weekend, early on the cross country walk from New York to San Francisco. The 21 marchers and their support buses walked from Shippensberg to Carlton Heights on Saturday, camped near Mercersburg for the weekend, and proceeded along Route 30 from Carlton Heights to McConnellsburg on Monday.
The group started its march on Martin Luther King’s birthday (January 15) in front of the United Nations building in New York, and it plans to reach San Francisco in time for the UN 50th anniversary celebrations on the west coast.
The marchers are nominally an international group, hailing from Japan, Venezuela, Germany, and France as well as Maryland, Minnesota, California, Wisconsin, and New York. Most, however, including the foreign born members, have lived most recently in California.
Their commitment to global peace comes from equally firm opposition to many related causes – mainly pollution, violence, and injustice for American Indians. Some are young and idealistic. Others are “professional activists” for whom life is a continuum of marches and demonstrations.
Some Indian prayers have been added to the agenda, as has a fast at Leavenworth Penitentiary in support of Leonard Peltier, an Indian who was convicted of killing two FBI agents in South Dakota in 1975. His supporters believe he was not permitted to defend his actions as self-defense or to introduce evidence pointing to his innocence.
The march leader, Yusen Yamato, is a Zen Buddhist monk from Japan. His statement on the march reads, “This Global Peace Walk is a future generations project of spirituality, meditation, prayer, and practice to develop a Global Mind. Our goal is to gather for four days ceremony in San Jose on June 14th with over 100,000 people, to walk to San Francisco. Someday all human beings must recognize that the globe is important; the globe is our house and our altar. Someday human beings have to pray for Global Peace Now or else nobody will be able to live in this world. It must be that the future generations develop global mind and global consciousness – beyond race, tribe, religion, nation – how to develop One Mind and One Vehicle.” This is Yamato’s third cross country walk.
“This is beyond race and religion. We are people of all walks of life walking for global peace. We hope to bring the spiritual aspect back to the United Nations,” said Daniel Torres.
Global concerns can’t all be solved by governments, says German born Karin Martens. “We have to start with ourselves, break down the walls, stop the violence. I want to have children, but we have to create a future for them.”
I don’t want to have children in this world right now,” agrees Sondra from France. “There is pollution everywhere.
Brian Fowler left his Silicon Valley job with a video game company because he was upset with the “destructive messages instead of tools of education” that he saw in the games. So he left his job and his new wife to march across the country for peace and “a better future for my children.”
Fermin Ferrer, originally from Venezuela, wants to share his ideals. “I want to feel I’m doing something good for the environment…By walking, I show people there are still people out there who care.”
“Chief Shenandoah” of Wisconsin has been on the road for a decade, participating in walks for peace and unity and working for the release of Leonard Peltier.
Nick Fowler, political science graduate of University of California Berkeley, candidly describes himself as a “professional political organizer.”
Donna Patrick was working for an environmental program, Mother Earth’s Healing Circus, in Arizona when she met some group leaders at a world unity festival last summer. She left the circus for the march, but, “I didn’t quite anything,” she earnestly explains, “because this is my job.”
David Williams of Santa Barbara, California, has also participated in marches but never before one planned to last six months. He explained the philosophy behind the global walk. A Zen Buddhist monk, Nichidatsu, once marched through India with his hand-held drum. Mahatma Gandhi also took up a drum and walked and changed India.
The drum and the walk are a prayer to bring peace to earth, and this is “a time of severe threat to life on earth,” says Williams. As a former chemical engineer, he is concerned with the reduction of oxygen in the atmosphere, the result of burning fossil fuels and destroying trees which produce oxygen.
The peace marchers would like locals to join them each day for as long as they wish. Advance runners could help carry the staff of peace, a staff decorated with eagle feathers, at the head of the group. Along the way they are looking for churches and other places to stay, food, and finance money, and a small vehicle for advance running. They expect to spend this weekend at the Thomas Merton Center, 5125 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15224.