Let There Be Peace on Earth
by Will Wilkinson
Most of us would immediately agree that world peace is something we want, and something we’d like to contribute to. A goodly number of us would also admit that it starts with us. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me,” as the song says.
In fact, that song has some lessons for us, quite beyond the lyrics. Here’s a brief history of its amazing impact on world peace. This amazing story can be found in its totality on the web site, http://www.jan-leemusic.com/Site/History.html:
“Sy Miller and Jill Jackson were a husband and wife songwriting team. In 1955 they wrote a song about their dream of peace for the world and how they believed each one of us could help create it.
“They first introduced the song to a group of teenagers selected from their high schools to attend a weeklong retreat in California. The young people were purposefully from different religious, racial, cultural and economic backgrounds, brought together to experiment with creating understanding and friendship through education, discussion groups, and living and working together in a camp situation. Sy Miller wrote in his own words what happened:
“’One summer evening in 1955, a group of 180 teenagers of all races and religions, meeting at a workshop high in the California mountains locked arms, formed a circle and sang a song of peace. They felt that singing the song, with its simple basic sentiment – ‘Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me,’ helped to create a climate for world peace and understanding.
“‘When they came down from the mountain, these inspired young people brought the song with them and started sharing it. And, as though on wings, ‘Let There Be Peace on Earth’ began an amazing journey around the globe. It traveled first, of course, with the young campers back to their homes and schools, churches and clubs. Soon the circle started by the teenagers began to grow. Before long the song was being shared in all fifty states – at school graduations and at PTA meetings, at Christmas and Easter gatherings and as part of the celebration of Brotherhood Week. It was a theme for Veteran’s Day, Human Rights Day and United Nations Day. 4H Clubs and the United Auto Workers began singing it. So did the American Legion, the B’nai B’rith, the Kiwanis Clubs and CORE. It was taped, recorded, copied, printed in songbooks, and passed by word of mouth.
“The song spread overseas to Holland, England, Italy, France, Germany, Lebanon, Japan, India; to South America, Central America, Africa, Asia and Australia. The Maoris in New Zealand sang it. The Zulus in Africa sang it.”
I encourage you to visit the site and read the rest of the story. It’s an inspiring example of how one simple act – in this case, writing a song – can bring peace to millions of people. It might compel us to ask: “What simple act is possible for me?” It’s unlikely what we do will have the far-reaching impact this song did… but you never know. And that’s the point, really, we never can know exactly how our words, our thoughts, and our actions affect the world. But a story like this one inspires us to act in faith, joining the millions of other mostly anonymous peace makers around the world, each doing their part.
Referenced from http://www.jan-leemusic.com/Site/History.html
Will Wilkinson is a local author, filmmaker and director of a Happiness campaign.