Peace Pole

MSUS Peace Pole

May Peace Prevail On Earth

Just what is a Peace Pole? A Peace Pole is an internationally recognized symbol that displays the message and prayer, "May Peace Prevail on Earth," usually in several different languages.

The World Peace Prayer Society, is a non-governmental, non-profit, non-denominational organization founded in 1955 by Masahisa Goi. It has been affiliated with the United Nations since 1990. The Peace Pole Project, started in Japan, was launched with a dedication to uplift humankind toward harmony rather than conflict. "War begins with thoughts of war... peace begins with thoughts of peace. The Peace Pole reminds us to keep peace ever present in our thoughts." At present count, there are more than 250,000 Peace Poles installed in nearly every country of the world. There are at least 50 (and we suspect there are many more) in the Twin Cities area alone, including at most of the other UU churches and many educational institutions.

Michele Wallace, MSUS member, first became aware of Peace Poles when she was at Robben Island in South Africa. Seeing a Peace Pole in the area where Nelson Mandela and so many others were once imprisoned was a profoundly moving experience for her. Seeing their Peace Pole standing silent vigil over the grounds brought her to tears.

Michelle was so moved by her experience, her husband proposed installing a Peace Pole in their home garden to commemorate their 25th wedding anniversary in 2007. Their Pole is near their front door where Michele can look at it often. She says, "To paraphrase a beautiful responsive reading by Gandhi that is in our hymn book, our Pole serves as a constant visual reinforcement of my belief that it is possible to live in peace."

Michele decided a Peace Pole would be the perfect addition to the MSUS grounds and started advocating for one in 2006. After discussions with the Land and Facilities Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Board of Trustees, the very unscientifically gathered consensus was to approve the installation, "as long as it was generally self-supporting" - in other words - not a budget item.

To raise money for the Pole and its installation, the opportunity to purchase a language plate was offered at the 2007 MSUS annual Service Auction. In addition to English, the MSUS Peace Pole will proudly proclaim "May Peace Prevail On Earth" in Arabic, Filipino, Finnish, Gaelic, German, Japanese, Norwegian, Ojibway, Polish, Slovenian, and Spanish.

The MSUS Peace Pole was dedicated on World Peace Day, September 21, 2008.

Michele chose English because "to be meaningful, peace must begin at home. MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH."

May Peace Prevail on Earth - Arabic

Proclaim Peace in Arabic

قد يفوز السلام على أرض

Filipino: A Peace Pole Language

We chose Filipino as our Peace Pole language because it is M'aricris' native tongue. She grew up on a farm with her brother and two sisters in the Pangasinan district five hours north of Manila on the island of Luzon. There are many regional dialects in the archipelago but Filipino is the national language that allows everyone to communicate. We were married in the Philippines in July 2005 with another ceremony at MSUS that winter. We most recently visited her family last fall. The Philippines and the United States have a long history stretching from the Spanish American War (1898) through World War II. Independence was proclaimed in 1946 and a republic established. President Ferdinand Marcos became dictator in 1972. He was deposed, with U.S. help, in 1985. Democracy was re-established with a new constitution in 1987. (Maricris & Tom T)

Why Finnish Is My Peace Pole Language
Vallitkoon Rau Ha Maailmassa

I chose the Finnish language in which to share the word for "peace," in honor of my mother's birth month. Mom's birthday is April 24, which we celebrated for 65 years. When she applied for social security retirement, she found there had been a glitch in registering her birth day: Her father Olaf had taken the train from Menahga to Wadena, the county seat 25 miles away, and along the way had apparently forgotten on which day she had been born. He told the officials that Ruthie was born on April 23. It took a fair amount of work to get the birth date corrected 65 years later so Mom could be clear with Social Security! For a couple of years after that, we celebrated on April 23, but it just didn't feel right. We reverted to the date we had known for many years, and continue to celebrate on April 24!

Interestingly enough, when I checked for a description of the Finnish word peace, I learned that "rauha" (row'-ha, as in "ow") is the Finnish word for "peace" and "tranquility," as well as the design of a simple one-room manufactured sauna building! That makes sense; when I was growing up, the sauna was a place in which we took a bath. Now if I had access to the same two-room bathhouse (one room for dressing, one room for washing), it would indeed be a place of peace and tranquility, if I could manage to survive the steam after pouring water on the hot rocks! The sauna I used when growing up was outside, a separate building quite a walk from Grandpa's farmhouse. The floor under the wood planks was dirt, it was lighted by one kerosene lantern in a small window between the two rooms, and the water was carried by pail. It makes the event all the sweeter in my mind! And in the winter, when returning from the sauna to the house post-bath, one "steamed" all the way back; there was no need for a warm coat. (After the body is heated in a 120-degree steam room, it does not require covering to keep warm in even -20 degree weather!)

My mother is Finnish and Norwegian. She has proudly announced herself as a Finn for 83 years. When she was about five years old, she walked with her older siblings to the country school about a mile from her home, but was sent home until she could "learn to speak English." She did learn to speak English, and now does not know many Finnish words after years of not using the language.

In addition to the sauna, mojakka was a food tradition - a vegetable-meat soup that was served at our home with flatbread. Any vegetable could be added to the soup - it depended on what was available. (There are versions that contain fish heads, but that was not recognized in our kitchen!)

The language of the Finns is Finnish, or "suomi" ("sue' -uh-me"). It is one of the official languages of Finland and and official minority language in Sweden. There are many dialects.

Finland has had a long and stormy relationship with Russia. The downfall of the tsar of Russia and the Communist revolution in 1917 made it possible for the Finnish senate to declare independence on December 6, 1917. However, a result was a bloody civil war that lasted 108 days, in which approximately 30,000 Finns were killed by their fellow ciitizens. Further anticommunist violence broke out in the early 1930s and Soviet relations remained uneasy in spite of a nonaggression pact in 1932. The Finns sued the Russians for peace in 1944 when Soviet forces staged a comeback. Ultimately the Finns ceded the Karelian Isthmus to the Soviets and agreed to recognise Societ security concerns in defending its frontiers. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it was a difficult time for Finland as the free market had to endure the late-1980's slump while balancing the dissolution of its debtor Soviet Union.

Peace can be a state of harmony or the absence of hostility. "Peace" can also be a non-violent way of life. Peace is used to describe the cessation of violent conflict. Peace can mean a state of quiet or tranquility, an absence of disturbance or agitation. Peace can describe a relationship between any people characterized by respect, justice, and goodwill. Peace can describe calm, serenity, and silence. This latter understanding of peace can also pertain to an individual's sense of himself or herself, as to be "at peace" with one's own mind. My wish for each of us is personal peace, peace within our relationships, and peace among the citizens of the world. (Carlotta S)

Why Gaelic is My Peace Pole Language
So Mberio Siocain ar Fuo ar Comain

I come from mostly Irish ancestors whose language once was Gaelic. My maternal grandmother, Helen O'Sullivan, and two of her sisters, Hannah and Minerva, emigrated from County Kerry to New York City. My grandmother married Sam Henderson, a Scots-Irish farmer from Pennsylvania. On the paternal side of the family, Prior and Dobbins, they were either Irish or Anglo-Irish. The language in the west of Ireland was Gaelic, and a region there was known as the Gaeltacht where folks continued to speak it. In 1969, a friend and I visited Ireland, and somewhere there's a picture of Liam Clancy and me standing in front of O'Sullivan's bar in Killorglin, County Kerry. I think the western part of Ireland is its most beautiful and rugged part. I admire the Irish for their love of words, their sense of drama and for the fact that they helped keep knowledge alive during the Dark Ages when chaos engulfed the rest of Europe. (See Peter Tremayne's mysteries.) In many respects, I am still in awe of my grandmother's courage - leaving her family and her home to come to a strange new world. I know they all left (particularly the girls) for economic reasons, but it takes a lot of courage to do so. So in honor of Saint Pat's Day in March - to Ireland where they close the bars on March 17 - I honor Gaelic. Here's to Ireland - Slainte! (D'Ann P)

Proclaim Peace in German
Möge Friede auf Erden Sein

The language I have chosen for the peace pole at MSUS is German. Bob and I both grew up with fathers and grandparents of German decent. My Dad had three brothers who all served in WWII. My uncle Larry, was stationed in the Philippines and while he was there received a telegraph from my father of my birth, the first of his nieces and nephew. My mother liked to credit my birth for keeping Dad out of the war and home with the family. My Grandma and Grandpa Suess' gardens were the first to inspire my love of flowers and gardening. The two of them grew everything from roses to ground cherries. It was endlessly fascinating. I liked to follow my grandmother to the garden to get what she called "clean dirt" for her African violets, a term that was quite confusing to a young child. They answered my many questions and provided me with a watering can so I could be helpful. Uncle Larry cared for my grandparents until their passing, living in the house of his birth with few amenities. For these and many other reasons I honor my German heritage.

I'm grateful to Michele and Doug for providing the inspiration for MSUS members to participate in placing a peace pole on our church grounds. Let peace prevail on earth. Lassen Sie Frieden auf der Welt vorherrschen. (Marcia M)

Proclaim Peace in Japanese
5 月の平和は地球で勝つ

It seems natural to chose Japanese since the father of my granddaughters, was of Japanese heritage. And I well remember the days that my country wiped out two cities in Japan with the kind of bombs we now call "weapons of mass destruction". If there ever was a reason to work for peace, it surely lies with our remembering what we did to that nation. Through peace we can be sure that it will never happen again. The Japanese people have valued peace since that horrific time, too.

My son-in-law's grandparents had come to this country in 1910 and farmed near Sacramento, California. But at the start of World War II, lands were confiscated and some of his extended family were sent to detention camps in Idaho. His parents, older brother and grandparents were interned in Arizona. He and a younger brother were born in the camp. After the war, with their home gone, the family moved to Chicago where my daughter met and worked with my son-in-law before they were married.

There is nothing abstract now in my personal point of view about peace and justice in the world. And we need to speak about it in every language! (Barb H)

Peace Pole in Norwegian
Må Det Være Fred på Jorden

The Peace Pole is an inspiring image, indicating the possibilities for a world without war. The Peace Pole serves as a reminder that people WANT peace, and are striving for peace.

When the opportunity to choose a language for our Peace Pole arrived, I chose Norwegian, SRs father's first language.

Nels R, Sig R's dad and my father-in-law, emigrated from Norway to America when he was about 18, became a U.S. citizen by serving in the U.S. Army during World War I, and lived in Minnesota until he died at age 100.

Nels very rarely spoke about his army experiences, but one time he told Sig R a bit about his combat experiences. On one of his "over the top and across No Man's Land" experiences, Nels, carrying a machine gun, was the sole, ONLY, survivor of his platoon of 40 men. He was put into a new platoon and he continued living in the trenches until the war ended, November 11, 1918.

He also served in the occupation, after the war ended, bivouacked in the home of a German family. He found them to be friendly, and wondered about the senselessness of the war.

Whenever we reflect on this story, we think about the trauma to Nels, his having to continue on with new comrades, and how lucky WE are that Nels survived that war. He came back to Minnesota, married, and had a family. If Nels hadn't survived, Sig R would never have been born.

But here Sig R is, and here we both are, all these years later, lucky to be living in a land without war going on around us. And so, in memory of Nels R, we choose the Norwegian language for our church's Peace Pole. (Marti R)

Proclaim Peace in Ojibway

(Pat F and Susan H)

Peace Pole In Polish
Niech Pokoj Zwyciezy na Ziemi

We chose to participate in the Peace Pole, not because we are pacifists, but because we believe peace is something we should aspire to and work toward. War is always evil, since innocent people will inevitably be killed, maimed, and displaced. However, there may be times when war is the lesser of two evils--stopping Hitler and his "Final Solution" come to mind. Still, we believe peaceful means should be exhausted before war is resorted to. We chose Polish to honor Ed's and our children's heritage from Ed's father's family. The Polish Solidarity Movement is a good example of how non-violent resistance can bring down a regime that is oppressive and brutal. St. Casimir is the patron saint of Poland, and his feast day is celebrated on March 4, so having this article appear in the March newsletter is timely.

The tough-minded…respect differences. Their goal is a world made safe for differences, where the United States may be American to the hilt without threatening the peace of the world, and France may be France, and Japan may be Japan on the same conditions. - Ruth Fulton Benedict, 1946 (Ed & Kathy B)

In Slovene: May Peace Prevail on Earth
Naj Mir Zavlada Svetu

I chose Slovenian as my Peace Pole inscription to honor my maternal grandparents. They lived in Chisholm, MN where I was born.

My grandfather, John Balantich, served in the Austrian army when Slovenia was part of the Austro-Hungary Empire. But he sensed a war was on the horizon and decided to immigrate to America in 1913. He vowed not to marry until he found a red-haired Slovenian girl! My grandmother Marija Mestek fulfilled his requirements; she was 28 and he was 38 years old when they met and married in a whirlwind romance. My mother always said they sustained their romantic love throughout their lives.

My grandparents were an inspiration for their daring and courage in seeking a new life in the United States. My grandfather was a miner in the underground iron mines. He also worked to help to organize labor into unions. My grandmother kept large gardens, growing and preserving most of their food. She also made wine, sometimes distilling some of it to make brandy.

Slovenian was my mother's first language. She didn't learn English until she went to kindergarten. And although I could understand my grandparents as a child, I neither speak nor understand it now. No holiday, wedding or funeral would be complete without "potica," the Slovenian holy bread. Slovenia gained its independence in 1991 from Yugoslavia and is now a democracy. It is on the Adriatic Ocean bordered by Italy, Hungary, Croatia and Austria. (Merle D)

Spanish: May Peace Prevail on Earth
Que la Paz Prevalezca en la Tierra

Spanish is my language of choice for the Peace Pole. One of the reasons is to represent Costa Rica, a republic in Central America, which is to me a micro-pilot of peace. It was the first country in the world to abolish its army, and has voted to aggressively reduce its carbon footprint. It is among the safest countries in Latin America as well as the least impoverished Spanish speaking country in the world. Its levels of urbanization are near that of Finland and Norway. It can happen.

Also, the Spanish-speaking population is continuing to increase in our own nation and understanding this language may help us to better transition to fair-minded and peaceful diversity.

My personal reason is because my first child, Michele, was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We lived in a 100% Spanish-speaking neighborhood. She was called the "chiquita blancita" and was considered brilliant by the elders because at 3 years old she spoke only Spanish but understood English. (SS - Mother of Michele Wallace)


قد يفوز السلام على أرض


May Peace Prevail on Earth


Sana'y Manatili Ang Kapayapaan Sa Mundo


Vallitkoon Rau ha Maailmassa


So Mbero Siocair ar Fuo ar Comain


Möge Friede auf Erden Sein


5 月の平和は地球で勝つ


Må Det Være Fred på Jorden


Mah Noh Tah BisonTam Got-emah Ahkeng Kognik


Niech Poko j Zwyciezy na Ziemi


Naj Mir Zavlada Svetu


Que La Paz Prevalezca En La Tierra