Signs of harmony
About 300 people observed the International Day of Peace on Tuesday in Spokane not by talking politics, but by sharing a meal and celebrating their cultural differences.
“What better way to celebrate world peace than for our own community to come together?” said Pat Moseley, a board member of the Interfaith Council, which sponsored the event at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane. “If we can do this one day out of 365, what a message we can send to other members of our community.”
The crowd watched Hmong dancers and African drummers and dined on an Egyptian meal that included chicken, falafel and eggplant. The Interfaith Council aims to bring people of diverse faiths together to find solutions to hunger, domestic violence and other issues. About 175 congregations belong to the group.
“We tend to be pessimistic that human beings could even create peace on earth,” said Clare Austen, minister of Unity Church of Truth on the South Hill. “I believe we have that capacity.”
Drum Beat of Uganda, an 18-member drum and dance group from Uganda, filled the hall with colorful dance and African rhythms. Drum Beat will tour area schools for the next two weeks.
John Nsambu, a Ugandan member of Parliament who organized the trip, said the Day of Peace brings a powerful message to him and members of Drum Beat. Uganda borders Sudan, which U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell recently accused of committing genocide.
“When we are here and we see an extremely peaceful country, it’s a reminder for us as Africans that peace is very important, and we should strive for it,” said Nsambu, who was an exchange student at Valley Christian School in 1993.
Despite the theme, there was little discussion of events in Iraq, Sudan or other places affected by war.
“This is not a room where people are politically the same,” Austen said. “But ultimately, everyone desires there to be no war.”
The International Day of Peace was created by the United Nations and first celebrated in 1982.
After the dinner, the lights were dimmed, and Don Caron, who composed the music to the movie “The Basket,” played a song he wrote for the occasion.
“If we are going to change the world in a way that brings peace,” Caron said before he played, “it’s something we have to be able to do first in our everyday lives.”