Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.
-- Micah 4:3-4


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Vine and Fig Tree

June 2012

Join Us for a Picnic in the Park

Adin Park
August 5, 2012   3-5 p.m.

The Anti-Slavery Picnic, commemorating the emancipation of slavery in the British Empire on August 1, 1834, was one of the most beloved traditions of the Hopedale Community. The first was held in 1842, only four months after the Community took up residence in Hopedale. The members, still living in cramped and uncomfortable quarters, set aside a day for an event that was part celebration, part demonstration against social injustice. The Community's newspaper, the Practical Christian, reported, "In a humble manner a few names gathered beneath a rude bower in His temple who fills all space, to commemorate the glorious First of August." The event grew until, by the mid-1850s, it was attracting between one and two thousand people, with well-known speakers such as Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass.

Friends of Adin Ballou revived the tradition with "Poetry for Peace in the Park" in 2010. This year's "Picnic in the Park" will be a family event with an open mike to speak on social issues, play music, share poetry or other readings. Like the Hopedale pioneers, on August 5 we will gather "in a humble manner, beneath a rude bower" to express our visions of peace and our aspirations toward justice.


The prominent Unitarian minister Theodore Parker was supposed to speak at the Anti-Slavery Picnic in 1856, but missed his train and failed to arrive. The Practical Christian said that he should have found some way to get there: "It is no trifling matter to disappoint a congregation of twelve or fifteen hundred people."
If he had been there, Parker might have said something like this:

Now see the relation of the individual to the statutes of men. All moral obligation depends on the justice of the statute, not on its legality; not on its constitutionality; but on the fact that it is a part of the natural law of God, the natural mode of operation of men. The statute no more makes it a duty to love men and not hate them, than the multiplication table makes twice two four; the multiplication table declares this, it does not make it. If a statute announces, "Thou shalt hate they neighbour, and not love him," it does not change that natural moral duty, more than the multiplication table would alter the fact if it should declare that twice two is three.

-- Theodore Parker, "The Law of God and the Statutes of Men" (1854)

Adin Ballou Peace Essay Contest

This spring, FAB sponsored an essay contest. High-school aged youth were invited to submit a 250-word essay on "What does peace mean to me?" or "How can one person spread peace?" or "What I will do for peace."

The winners were:

First Prize - Jagath Jai Kumar
Second Prize - Justin Jacques
Honorable Mention - Alec Munhall

The prize-winning essays are printed below.

The winning essay was written by 14-year-old Jagath Jai Kumar, an eighth grader at Hopedale Junior-Senior High School. Jagath has a busy life, full of demanding activities: he is a Star Scout (the fifth of the seven ranks of scouting), he is on the Hopedale Varsity Tennis Team, and is the first chair clarinet player for the Middle School Band. One of his main interests is robotics. He was on a prize-winning team in a FIRST Competition (a robotics contest for kids and teens), and looks forward to studying robotics and engineering in college. On top of all that, he is an honor student and, like most kids, enjoys playing video games.

With all of these interests competing for his attention, what made Jagath take the time to enter the Adin Ballou Peace Essay Contest? Jagath says, "While writing my essay, I realized that I wanted to get the message out to the public: Peace is a necessity! Peace matters! People these days are obsessed with combat, violence, hatred, and no one is getting the message across that those are evil qualities. So I decided to enter the contest to show people what peace really is, and how to pursue peace."

The judges were impressed by the way Jagath used the old story of Portrait of Peace to remind us that peace begets peace, just as violence begets violence. To be at peace is to be a peacemaker. We may not all be peace heroes like Adin Ballou, but all of us can cultivate peace in our own bodies, minds, and spirits.

First Prize Essay

What Does Peace Mean to Me?
by Jagath Jai Kumar

According to a common dictionary, Peace is a state of mutual harmony between people or groups. But is that really what peace means? Any average person would describe peace as life without shouting or yelling, no violence and wars, and no quarrels with neighbors and relatives.

Many of the greatest peace-oriented minds in history had their own views of peace. Peace, as said by Indian peace leader Mahatma Gandhi, is non-violence, and justice to all citizens of the world. African American rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. also shared these ideals of righteousness to everyone. But peace to me, is something totally different, and can be explained in a short story.

Once there was a Prince, who quested for a glimpse of peace. So he ordered the best artists in the land to create pictures of peace. Finally, the Prince selected two that he liked very much. One had a beautiful meadow, a lovely sky, and fruit on trees. Many of the citizens thought this was truly an example of peace. The other portrait, however, showed a ghastly island with an erupting volcano, people fighting, and the earth trembling. But, in a small corner, there was a tree with a bird calmly making a nest. The Prince chose the latter painting, because he felt that peace is not living without worries. Peace is living with noise, quarrels, and hatred, and still being calm and relaxed in the entire body, which can radiate, and spread peace to everyone in the community.

Second Prize Essay

What Does Peace Mean to Me?
by Justin Jacques

"Peace" can have no true definition due to its transcendence beyond the grasp of human language. Peace is not a word, but a goal - the gain that validates the risk, the light lying at the end of the tunnel, and the perfect equilibrium strived for by the system. Since the dawn of civilization, peace has made up the building blocks of shelter, which in turn produce food and water, which in turn produce life. It is the antithesis of war, shining like the Sun as poised as a glimmering paradise to those covered in violent, wartime moonlight.

Peace is a profession. Men revered as heroes have fought and died in scattered attempts to take the Earth by its frayed strings and drag us all out of the shadows and into that glorious Sun. The exalted few who stand proudly in legend - Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Theodore Roosevelt - are from time to time steadfast at the helm. They make their mark pulling into a splendor of accord strings that fray further every day with unimaginable might. Here and there stand recruiting booths disguised as injustice for the lucrative career of peace - which is forever in need of new applicants. To apply, one need only stand up.

Peace is omnipotent. It touches every walk of life, blind to the massively perceived dangers of race, gender, or socioeconomic difference. Peace is the guardian to freedom, and the prerequisite to happiness. Peace is all of us - therefore, it means everything.

Honorable Mention Essay

What Does Peace Mean to Me?
by Alec Munhall

To me, peace can be easily summed up in the lyrics of an Andrew Jackson Jihad song entitled "Personal Space Invader." The lyrics go, "Welcome to this world, have as much fun as you would like while helping others have as much fun as you're having." To me, peace is everyone helping everyone else live an enjoyable and productive life. Peace is people not being afraid to do what they love and enjoy. People should not have to worry about being attacked, abused, bullied or mistreated because they are trying to live an enjoyable life. Peace also means freedom to say and do what you want as long as you do not harm others. One of the great qualities about the nation that we live in is that it was founded to promote peace. We are one of the few nations where you can express your opinion, no matter how unpopular it is. However, we are starting to stray away from this view of peace and freedom. We need to remember that no matter what threats or enemies we come across we need to preserve the values this country was founded on. If we give up our ideals to fight an enemy that is trying to destroy those same ideals, we might as well not fight at all. I hope that one day everyone, not just a select few, will be able to live a great life and help others live a great life no matter what nationality, race, religion, or gender they are.

photo: Damien du Toit (http://coda.co.za)

Origami Cranes
the bird of peace in a world at war