Reflections on a Peace Pageant
It was a beautiful Spring Day in September for the Port Phillip Peace Pageant in 2018.
We started to gather from 3.30pm in the bright sunshine in Acland Street plaza. Bev Polzin and I were to do a short presentation on AVP Vic (Alternatives to Violence Project). We had met earlier to rehearse what we planned to say and do but still it was a bit nerve wracking…
I wondered why Peace events are (on the whole) so under supported. Is it because the subject is too amorphous, too big, too abstract…?
We sat in the audience with about ten other people.
In the front row was a man who was intoxicated but happy enough. This will be interesting, I thought….
The event started with a welcome to country and then the rest of the program began to unfold.
What struck me was the tone or feel of the event. There was such a good vibe! There weren’t many people but there were enough. Every body strove for a good outcome. The man at the front was acknowledged and treated with respect by every single peace group. This is peaceful living in action, I thought. This is love in action.
Father Bob Maguire came to the stage and read out a short poem by Leunig about how ‘we’ need to change for the world to change. It was perfect. Bob cracked some jokes and interacted with the man at the front and then something I didn’t expect happened. The man at the front approached Father Bob and leaned his head against Bob’s chest, extending his neck as a small child might do. Did he sense something special in this man? An exceptional compassion perhaps?
Bev and I gave our very short presentation about AVP emphasising the experiential nature of our workshops. We then gave the audience a taste tester with a question: “What could you do differently which might lead to a more peaceful world?”. Did it work? Hard to tell but I think it did.
The MC then did something quite brave (and risky). He asked some members of a West Papuan group and a Peace delegate from Indonesia to come to the stage together and sing ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. I wasn’t sure if it would work but it did. This was very moving…
By this stage I decided to throw caution to the wind and just to go with the spirit of the event. I sang along to all the songs, danced, waved my outstretched arms in time with the music. I guess I became a real part of it…
At the end of the presentations a ‘Peace Angel’ appeared, walking on stilts in a beautiful golden dress with gorgeous wings… She approached the man at the front and handed him a sprig of heath. They joined hands. I was apprehensive. Would he pull her over?!! No, all was well. Was she divinely protected?
I later spoke to her and offered her one of our exquisite origami roses made by a friend of mine who is currently in a Victorian prison. She accepted it with such grace and then she spotted my Angel pendant. She smiled and said “we must be related”. Can you imagine my delight?! She said we all have an inner Angel (our divine spark?).
We then walked to a local Community Centre where there was an art exhibition of paintings about peace. We were escorted by a dancing, South American percussion band. The energy was palpable and exciting.
On the way I wished a bystander “Happy International Peace Day!”. She was surprised and happy and I realised that if the event reached just one person and changed them just a little bit or expanded their consciousness then it was worthwhile.
I was honoured to be part of this event and I could see and feel all the love and care that went into creating it.
The article has been published in a Victorian Quaker newsletter as well as a publication which reaches Quakers around Australia.