The universal hunger for peace is premised on the idea that humanity and human quests thrive best in peaceful surroundings. Notwithstanding the often armed conflicts, peace is not only idealized with words and zeal, but also immortalized through the use of signs and symbols. It is arguable that even in armed conflicts the desired end result is always peace. This article evaluates the commonly agreeable world peace signs, with special preference accorded to the nuclear disarmament symbol.
The Olive Branch & Dove
Before the peace sign currently popular all over the world was ever instituted, various cultures and religions had previously used many other symbols to represent peace, peaceful coexistence and reconciliation. For instance, the dove was used by Christians as a peace sign before the pagan world adopted it. Perhaps, the gentle and peaceable attributes of the dove inspired its adoption as a peace symbol. It must be noted that the commencement of the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ on earth was marked with the peaceful and gentle Holy Spirit coming to Him from God. This was during the Baptismal rite that was conducted by John the Baptist.
In similar contexts, the olive branch was used extensively as sign of reconciliation and building trust. In the ancient Greek mythology, for example, it was speculated that the olive tree had special powers to drive out and keep evil powers at bay. The Romans, on the other hand, postulated that the olive tree was a distinct attribute of the goddess charged with sustaining peace in the universe. This goddess, Eirene (Pax), was inscribed on the imperial currency of the Roman Empire.
The WRI Broken Rifle Symbol
Further, the War Resisters international (WRI) used the broken rifle symbol. although the symbol is much older than the WRI, its heavily linked with the WRI because of the use of the symbol as an official symbol of the WRI. Initially, the 1909 Dutch publication De Wapens Neder had previously used the symbol in its clarion call for a halt to the use of armed force to quell conflicts.
The Women’s Co-operative Guild White Poppies
Another symbol that can be said to have been used to represent peace was the white poppy. This symbol gained world acclaim during the agitation by the Women’s Co-operative Guild to stop he war and war tensions in Europe just before the start of the World War II. The symbol was often distributed in a stark effort to counter the British rites that involved the distribution of red poppies to servicemen who had died in war. The British’s good intentions notwithstanding, it was considered yet still the furtherance of conflict.
Roerich’s Peace Banner
Known for his protectionism of valuable cultural artifacts, Nicholas Roerich (1874- 1947) was also an astute advocate of peace. How else would one conceivably expect the safety of cultural artifacts in the absence of the reign of peace? His peace banner was simply a symbol consisting of three solid circles encircled by one circle.
The Peace Symbol
The most recognized peace symbol, however, has its roots in Britain. It was designed by Gerald Holtom in 1958 with the principal objective of agitating for the halting of the manufacture and use of nuclear weapons. This was the initiative of the Direction Action Committee that had organized a rally against nuclear war. The rally culminated into a protest walk from London’s Trafalgar Square to Aldermaston’s Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.
The symbol is simply a combination of two semaphore letters ‘N’, and ‘D’ (represented by three lines) inside a circle. The letters are simply an abbreviation of, ‘Nuclear Disarmament’. The design cleverly adopted the system of using flags to send information. With the picture of information transmission from ship to ship in mind, for example, the symbol was effective in portraying the letters rough the holding of flags in a certain way. N, for example, is formed when two flags held by a person are inclined to the ground at a 45 degree angle. D, on the other hand becomes visible when one flag is held 90 degrees down and another 90 degrees straight up.
That the world’s wars and turmoil have dented world peace is no longer a strange observation. The resulting cries, agitation and fights for peace have been often unheard because of the continual war drumbeats. Nevertheless, the hunger for peace remains and has been immortalized by symbols.