Letter writer: Celebrate Peace Day in Western North Carolina

Graphic by Lori Deaton

“Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

By way of introduction, I am a ’60s activist now in my 60s who has made Asheville my home now for two years. My passion for peace and the end of war, racism, sexism and poverty has been part of my existence since 1967. Since then, I have participated in many forms of resistance, speaking out and civil disobedience, including serving six months in jail for my activities at Kent State against war and racism the year before the murders of the four students. But enough about me, let’s talk about peace.

In my opinion, peace is an inherent right of each human being, the fundamental need for each person to have the right to live out their lives to their fullest potential. Terrorism comes in many forms — from being denied rights for the color of your skin, to whom you love, poverty, lack of educational opportunities and being the victims of war and its horrible consequences.

The heartbreaking picture of an immigrant boy drowned on the beaches of Europe while his family flees bombs and destruction brings home this point very clearly. In truth, “Anything war can do, peace can do better,” Marvin Gaye once said.” If you cannot find peace within yourself, you cannot find it anywhere.” And I have pursued learning about the peace that resides within me and all human beings.

So why a day of peace? The International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year on Sept. 21. Established in 1981, the United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace. This year’s theme is “Dignity for All.” If even for one day, we can come together and live in peace we can build a culture of peace forever.

Locally, my wife and I have started Papa and Mama Bear’s Peace Garden, a place where people can come and enjoy an experience of peace. Our motto is: Plant Peace — Grow Love. We also are members of Peace is Possible NC.

We are pleased to be part of the local group WNC 4 Peace, ​striving to be a partnership of peacemakers and invite you to share in our activities this year here in Asheville. You can find out more about us at wnc4peace.com

— Colin Neiburger
Asheville

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