Around the world in 90 days

A march for peace

Ellen Wert
May 7, 2009

From October 2, 2009 to January 2, 2010, an international group of 100 people will experience four seasons and the extremes of the planet's climates and terrains as they zig-zag across six continents, carrying a message of peace and nonviolence. With them every step of the way, in person and in spirit, will be millions of others who believe that swords should be turned to plowshares.

 

 

Determined to mitigate the far-reaching consequences of war and violence, the international organization World Without Wars has reached out to thousands of groups and individuals to create the 90-day World March for Peace and Nonviolence. The message: just 10 percent of what the world spends on arms could end world hunger; a larger reduction could significantly improve lives the world over. 

 

The March, which begins in New Zealand on the anniversary of Gandhi's birth, the United Nations' International Day of Nonviolence, will pass through 90 countries (see box) in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North and South America-countries that are in turmoil, countries that have emerged from war and civil strife, and countries that have enjoyed peace. Before the 160,000-kilometer journey (99,419 miles) ends in Punta de Vacas, a mountain peak in Argentina, the March will  cross 160 borders via 40 train routes (including the Trans Siberian); 100 trips by four-wheel-drive, bus, car, motorcycle, and bicycle; 14 airplane rides, and 25 water crossings by ship, barge and canoe.

 

Stops along the way will include more than 100 visits with governments and political leaders, but local events to mark the March as it passes are as varied as the participants, countries, climates and terrains, ranging from sports to the arts, from conferences to celebrations.

 

The March reaches Tuscany on November 11-fittingly, the day of the 1918 Armistice, the cease-fire agreement of World War I, and local coordinators are already planning activities in Florence, Pistoia, Tavarnuzze, Lucca, Valdarno, Campi Bisenzio, and Sesto Fiorentino-Mugello, with more to come. Local planners have also issued a call to all the schools in the Tuscan Region to submit student works on the theme of peace and nonviolence: selected poetry, stories, photographs, paintings, sculpture, music, theatre, dance and video and computer art will be displayed in Florence (see www.marciamondialetoscana.org).

 

The March is open to ‘any person, organization, collective, group, political party, business that shares the same aspirations,' regardless of religious or political affiliation or nationality. Worldwide, 500 organizations are coordinating the March and over 3,000 are already supporting it. More than 150 prominent individuals and groups representing nearly as many countries, religions and walks of life-artists, scientists, writers, presidents, singers, Nobel laureates, and mayors-endorse the March and invite schools, universities, communities, organizations, and individuals to participate in the March and local events along the route, or create marches or events in their own communities-even virtual ones.

 

 

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