Through movement, sound and shape; through rites and rituals peoples throughout human history have described, documented and celebrated our earthly journey, our reverence for all forms of life and the Giver of Life. thus cultures were created, passed on and developed through the ages.
Although every culture, each in its own way, affirms the oneness and interconnectedness of life in all its many forms, the belief system to which a culture has given its allegiance, has controlled and conditioned such sense of oneness with constraining demarcation lines, mapping out battlefields and fanning the murky fires of fear, hatred and separateness.
But, it is the belief systems (religious, political, economic or other) that are being destroyed. Culture will remain in the heart of all peoples who know themselves to be brothers or sisters within one human family and become the cornerstone of a new civilization.
The Banner of Peace pays homage to this underlying oneness of life; it flies in recognition of the creative spirit within all cultures and calls attention to the good, the beautiful and the magnificent which culture continuously brings to life.
The Banner signifies the unity of cultures - a Culture of Peace.
This sign of the triad which is to be found all over the world may have several meanings. Some interpret it as a symbol of past, present and future, enclosed in the ring of Eternity; others consider that it refers to religion, science and art, held together in the circle of Culture. But whatever be the interpretation the sign itself is of the most universal character.
The oldest of Indian symbols, Chintamani, the sign of happiness, is composed of this symbol and one can find it in the Temple of Heaven in Peking. It appears in the Three Treasures of Tibet; on the breast of the Christ in Memling's well-known painting; on the Madonna of Strasbourg; on the shields of the Crusaders and coat of arms of the Templars. It can be seen on the blades of the famous Caucasian swords known as "Gurda".
It appears as a symbol in a number of philosophical systems. It can be found on the images of Gesar Khan and Rigden Djapo; on the "Tamga" of Timurlane and on the coat of arms of the Popes. It is to be seen in the works of ancient Spanish painters and of Titian, and on the ancient ikon of St. Nicholas in Bari and that of St. Sergius and the Holy Trinity.
It can be found on the coat of arms of the city of Samarkand, on Ethiopian and Coptic antiquities, on the rocks of Mongolia, on Tibetan rings, on the breast ornaments of Lahul, Ladak and all the Himalayan countries, on Celtic coins and on the pottery of the neolithic age.
It is conspicuous on Buddhist banners. The same sign is branded on Mongolian steeds. Nothing, then, could be more appropriate for assembling all races than this symbol, which is no mere ornament but a sign which carries with It a deep meaning.
It has existed for immeasurable periods of time and is to be found throughout the world. No one therefore can pretend that it belongs to any particular sect, confession, or tradition, and it represents the evolution of consciousness in all its varied phases.
When it is a question of defending the world's treasures, no better symbol could be selected, for it is universal, of limitless antiquity and carries with it a meaning which should find an echo in every heart.
A world famous Russian painter, scientist, archeologist and great thinker from the beginning of the 20th century, Nicholas Roerich, worked tirelessly for what he called peace through culture. In 1935 the historic “Roerich Pact”, was signed in Washington in the presence of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, by USA and all the Pan-American member states.
This pact asks that all educational, artistic and scientific institutions will forever be protected in times of upheaval and warfare, as well as in times of peace, and its symbol - the Banner of Peace - would fly over all such centres safeguarding and promoting the spirit, the beauty and the knowledge of humanity.
The symbol on this banner - three spheres surrounded by a circle - is an ancient one, interpreted in many ways and used by cultures throughout the ages and throughout the world; Roerich therefore saw it as the perfect symbol for a future culture in which all cultures are respected, celebrated and united.
While the Roerich Pact may be seen as an appeal to governments more than to us people, the Manifesto 2000 pledge, formulated and signed by all then living Peace Prize Laureates, was perhaps more directly aimed at raising public awareness on the need for the commitment of us all to live by values indispensable for creating good neighbourhoods. It has to date been signed by more than 75 million people.
Based on the foundation of this pledge all our many campaigns, projects, resolutions and strivings towards building a better, fairer and more enlightened world can be united, and this unity be made visible through the banner of peace, which carries a symbol belonging to us all.
Peace Through Unity would therefore like to propose:
that all institutions concerned with education on all levels, all places of worship and of cultural significance, local government and government ministries etc. be informed of the Roerich initiative, the Banner of Peace and the Manifesto 2000; and that these institutions be encouraged to sign the following simple statement of commitment and display the banner of peace as a symbol of unity of purpose:
I/we hereby resolve to promote actively, consistently, and in every way possible the creation of a culture of peace, built upon the foundation of right human relations and the basic oneness of all life. In accordance with Manifesto make the solemn pledge to: respect all life; reject violence; share with others; listen to understand; preserve the planet; and rediscover solidarity.” We have laboured long and hard under a culture which has been alienating us from each other and taught use the skills of war. Yet, our willingness in principle to create a fairer, more tolerant and peaceful world is well documented. Plans and tools for action are in place. It is high time we put heart and soul into bringing about a culture, based on the fundamental truth of the oneness of all living beings - and for the love of humanity.
So be it.