Category Archives: Moving Towards Peace

About the Spirit of The Olympic Truce

Whether steeped in Greek mythology, fable, fiction or allegorical, Ekecheiria, or The Olympic Truce captures the imagination.  What we do know is that Greece was in a long and bloody civil war and, based on stories passed down through the years, the kings of three city-states, Elis, Pisa and Sparta, traveled to Delphi, hoping the Oracle could use her mysterious power to find a way to hold the athletic games in Olympia without further bloodshed.  The oracle was the sanctuary dedicated to Apollo and the spokesperson for Apollo was the priestess called the Pythia.

Legend says that the Pythia would fall into a trance allowing Apollo to possess her spirit.  From this state she prophesied about everything from public policy to personal matters. One of the prophesies was that of The Olympic Truce:  every four years the games would be held, war would be suspended, armies would be prohibited from threatening those participating in or attending the Games, legal issues and the death penalty were forbidden.

This was the common basis for peace and harmony among the Greeks and the forerunner to the modern Olympic Games.  Athletes, artists and their families, as well as ordinary citizens would be allowed to travel safely both before, during and after the games.  The sanctuary of Olympia remained a tradition for centuries.

Fast-forward to 1984 when the Hands In Peace organization, inspired by the spirit of Ekecheiria, and using a modern model of the Pentathlon developed for children by the Spacial Dynamics Institute®, began the first of their many Hands In Peace Games.  Aimed at building peace through cooperation and open dialogue these non-competitive athletic events coupled with artistic activities bring children together to work harmoniously in teams to do their personal best.  Shared artistic activities encourage the children to learn about different cultures and to express themselves in a safe environment and develop relationships with those once considered “different.”

The Truce represents a wish for peace and the Hands In Peace Games puts peace into practice.

Pep’s Note – there are as many versions of the Oracle at Delphi, The Truce and the Olympics as there are stars in the sky.  I hope you like this simple version.


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Rotary Peace Fellows, Impact On The World

As wars appear to rage on and conflict takes its toll in human misery, a unique group of people are infusing the world with a  spirit of peace, tolerance and understanding.  These Rotary Peace Fellows are professionals trained in the root causes of conflict, the theories of international relations and effective models of cooperation, conflict prevention, sustainable development and social change.

Currently working in governance, diplomacy, nongovernmental and private organizations, these Fellows have studied a broad range of topics including human rights, ethics and world politics, arms control, peacekeeping, international law and global women’s issues at one of the six universities hosting a Rotary Peace Center.  They are leaders in their profession and in their national and international volunteer service.  They are the faces of peace and conflict resolution that Rotary has long believed possible.

Rotary Peace Fellows began traveling abroad to pursue master’s level degrees in 2002 and now number almost 500 strong..  University partners are located at Duke University and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in North Carolina; International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan; Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina; University of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England; University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.  Each university partner has a unique curriculum focusing on aspects of international studies providing a broad range of academic experience.

In 2006, Rotary created a shorter professional development certificate program designed to attract mid-to-upper level professionals already hard at work in peace related fields. Rotary selected Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand for the intensive three to six month course designed to expand the participants’ global outlook and strengthen their abilities making a positive impact on future peace work.

When you meet a Rotary Peace Fellow you will never forget it –  a deputy high commissioner for the court in Zambia, a doctor working to provide neonatal care in an area of the world where many children die in infancy, a mediator implementing better social and environmental policies, a humanitarian aid agency officer, an educator working with youth from different religious and ethnic groups to prevent future conflict.  Click here to see more of these beautiful faces of peace.

The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International conducts a globally competitive search for Peace Fellow candidates each year.  Candidates must apply through a local Rotary Club and complete an application that includes academic transcripts, test scores and all related documents required for admission the university of choice.

Interested?  Do you know someone who is ready to make this type of commitment?  Watch this short video and then go to How To Apply for more information.

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Hands In Peace

People talk about peace, write about it, wonder if it’s possible but here’s a team of people doing something to cause peace to happen.  The Hands In Peace precept is simple:  combine children from disparate communities using athletic movement and the arts in a non-competitive setting to learn to understand and communicate respectfully and absorb each other’s cultures…..and all before they become adversaries!

Meet my friend, Jaimen McMillan, founder of Hand In Peace who, since 1985, along with his a team of global and community leaders has hosted hundreds of local and regional Hands In Peace Games or Festivals for over 50,000 children from 35 cities around the world.  Using a modern model of the ancient Greek Olympics, the five disciplines of the Pentathlon – discus, wrestling, javelin, jumping and running are incorporated with music, dance, art, and poetry to weave a fabric of peace and understanding..

By removing the competitive nature of the games, children learn to know and honor cultural diversity, develop athletic ability and social skills that last a lifetime.  Teachers and youth leaders from around the world provide training and help the children to cheer each other on.  Teams are made up of children from different countries, religions  and ethnic background.  There is no competition among team participants  as everyone works to improve his or her personal best.  There are no winners or losers – just children learning to live together in peace.

The first International Festival was held in Olympia, Greece in 2001 with over 250 children from communities in conflict including Kosovo, Serbia, North and South Cyprus, Palestine and Ireland.  Other International Festivals have been held in Delphi, Greece; Lang Fang, China and Quito, Ecuador.  Hands In Peace was invited to exhibit at the United Nations in 2003 and 2005.

Join me in watching a short video about the 2009 Hands In Peace Festival in Sacramento, California and then check back at A Noble Purpose to learn more about Hands In Peace.

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