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Pacific's peace pole a small step toward world goal

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JILL REHKOPF SMITH - Jared Kawatani, an environmental biology major at Pacific University, gives a brief introduction at a ceremony Wednesday, Sept. 21, on his efforts to establish a Peace Pole on campus.These are the things people associate with peace: A butterfly, a flower, a heart, a dove (with an olive branch), a sun, the Pacific University boxer, our blue-green planet, nature scenes, thoughtful words and, of course, a peace sign.

All those images were represented among the tiles decorating Pacific University’s new Peace Pole, which was installed outside Scott Hall on the annual International Day of Peace last Wednesday, Sept. 21, with help from an official ceremony attended by about 30 people.

Peace Poles were thought up in 1955 by Masahisa Goi in Japan, where the memory of World War II's devastation was still strong a decade after the war ended. Thousands of peace poles have since been posted across the world, including several at North Valley Friends Church in Newberg. Most bear the message "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in a variety of languages.

A pole specifically for Pacific was the brainchild of Jared Kawatani, an Environmental Biology major. Kawatani said his middle school back in Hawaii had a peace pole in a peace garden, where he sometimes went to sit quietly and reflect. In addition, Kawatani said, he comes from the Buddhist religious tradition, which emphasizes peace.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JILL REHKOPF SMITH - Pacific University's new Peace Pole features tiles with representations of peace, created by students and friends of Jared Kawatani, who spearheaded the project.

When he got the idea to add a peace pole to Pacific’s campus, Kawatani applied for and received a mini-grant from the school’s Center for Civic Engagement.

Bringing people together for this kind of project is a great example of civic engagement, said Bevin McCarthy, assistant director of the center.

Kawatani asked his friends to help paint tiles for the pole. In addition, he got help from art professor Terry O’Day, who brought more tile painters on board.

The International Day of Peace was created by the United Nations in 1981 and is still relevant and important at this time, said University Chaplain Chuck Currie — “a time of both hope and caution in the world.”

Currie, who also directs the school’s Center for Peace and Spirituality, noted the recent bombing of a humanitarian aid convoy in Syria and the continued police shootings of unarmed African American men in the U.S. and ended the ceremony with An International Prayer for Peace, adapted from the Upanishads by Satish Kumar:

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JILL REHKOPF SMITH - Pacific University's new Peace Pole sits outside Scott Hall on the Forest Grove campus."Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth. Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust. Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace. Let peace fill our heart, our world, our universe. Peace, peace, peace."