A great opportunity for leaders - and all people.


December 22, 2000

by John McConnell
Founder of Earth Day

December 22 is the last Winter Solstice before the New Millennium. Effort now by world leaders to speak out for this event can result in new hope and a new beginning in the year 2001.

In ancient history the Winter Solstice was a time for rejoicing. The days before that kept getting shorter. There was fear this would continue and leave the world in darkness. But on the December Solstice they started getting longer. Now people knew the dead leaves on the trees would yield their place to new leaves in the Spring.

On this great day of opportunity a new faith, hope and love can replace the dead leaves of the past millenniums with truth, justice and cooperation for our common good. Together we can provide a new beginning for the human family -- a time to forgive, forget and start anew.

A look at the Minute for Peace observed on December 22, 1963 can increase our vision of possibilities.

December 22, 2000 will be the 37th anniversary of the first Minute for Peace, a universal radio and TV broadcast which ended the period of mourning for President John F. Kennedy. On that occasion (December 22, 1963 at 1900 GMT) the recorded voice of President Kennedy speaking the year before at the United Nations implored, "Together we can save our planet."

The idea of Minute for Peace became popular and played a role in ending the war between Pakistan and India in 1966. United Nations Delegates from both sides publicly joined in silent prayer as they were asked to meditate on peace and good will – with determination to overcome hatred and injury with the power and benefit of reconciliation and cooperation.

Minute for Peace became the centerpiece of Earth Day, when we invite people world-wide to join in two minutes of silent prayer or reflection as the Peace Bell at the United Nations is rung at the moment Spring begins.

Peace begins in the mind. The repeated participation by friends and adversaries, in heartfelt thoughts and silent prayers for peace when the Peace Bell was rung each year on Earth Day, helped end the Cold War.

In "The Other Side Of Silence" Morton Kelsey documents the benefit of meditation or meditative prayer. Scholars of every culture and religion have reported its benefit. ("The Other Side OF Silence: Meditation for the Twenty-First Century" Paulist Press)

Spread the word to every church, synagogue, mosque and school and let people everywhere know of this opportunity to tap the best of their religious values – to join hearts and minds in loving faith that wherever there is hate, fear or conflict, peace will prevail. Together we can make the new millennium a new and better future for the human adventure.



Dedicated to the memory of Yehudi Menuhin

It was three days before Christmas - And on valley and hill
A Minute for Peace - Joined hearts in good will.
We are one human family - Was the message brought
By the pictures on TV - Where before people fought.
This day then began - A Campaign for Earth
To eliminate poverty - Pollution and dearth.
For when people and groups - Seek a goal all can share
We’ll treat neighbor and nature - With heartfelt care.
Our planet is suffering - From shortsighted greed
But as Trustees of Earth - We’ll meet our Earth’s need.

See Earth Day Web Site: www.earthsite.org