Even though I planned to do it, I was nonetheless surprised to find myself in my car at 4:30 a.m. on Friday, the last morning of the year and the coldest in recent memory, heading for the 25th Annual Fort Collins Area Observance of the International Hour for Peace. (I had mistakenly been thinking of it as the International Hour of Peace, or IHOP, which seemed like a great coincidence. Really, what could be a better pairing than peace and pancakes?)
I was surprised because I’m not a very touchy-feely person. Growing up, I always had the biggest share of the cynic, the skeptic, the critic. I don’t really commune. And nothing sends me scrambling faster than a big dose of woo-woo or holier-than-thou.
But I wanted to attend the IHFP because I was curious, and I love the idea of global synchronicity. (The only other occasion when I’ve experienced world-wide simultaneous participation was years ago at a Great Guinness Toast, which was a fun but admittedly less-worthy undertaking.) And I, like every parent, want my sons, and my eventual grandchildren, to live in a more peaceful world. If getting my butt out of my warm bed in the wee hours one day a year can help with that, it’s a small price to pay.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Observance, and it was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed hearing stories from the people who were at the first Fort Collins rally 25 years ago, though I was rather dumfounded to learn that there were also protesters at that event. And I appreciated the inclusiveness of the Observance, the complete lack of the spiritual oneupsmanship that drives me crazy. To emphasize the global nature of the day, pictures of observances from around the world would have been a nice touch.
The live music—harp and other stringed instruments—was unique and beautiful. But—and take this as proof of my unenlightenedness, if you will—chanting has never been my thing. I did it, but I felt trés awkward. And as for the meditation, by the fourth four-minute period of silence, all I could think about was the fact that my stomach was growling like Kung Fu Panda’s.
I’m glad I attended so I could see firsthand how members of this community come together in a gentle way to get their positive vibes out into the world. The Margaret Mead quote in the program summed it up better than I ever could: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has." But when the IHFP rolls around at the end of 2011, I think I’ll probably skip the group experience. Instead, I’ll get up in the pre-dawn December dark, light a candle, and think peaceful thoughts. Then I’ll make some pancakes.
United Nations Flag Display