International Runners Carry Symbol of Peace to Calais

Banshidhar Madeiros (left) addressed those assembled to share in the vision of peace created by Sri Chinmoy, founder of the Peace Run. Runners this year came from twenty different countries. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

 

How can world peace be achieved? It is a question that has consumed the thoughts of some of the most brilliant minds in our recent times – but, for some, the answer has been found. In the spirit of noted peace advocate Sri Chinmoy, runners from around the world have carried a single torch for hundreds of thousands of miles as part of the Peace Run relay. As they do, they visit with the communities they pass through and share their thoughts of peace both personal and worldwide. On August 8th, they came to Calais.

This year’s Peace Run took place from April 10th to August 15th, beginning and ending at the United Nations in New York. During the run, sixty runners from 20 countries took turns carrying the torch – the same torch once held by Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev, among many, many others. They ran around North America, covering the coasts and stopping in Canada and Mexico, running 90 or more miles a day.

The runners themselves, many of whom have been participating in the Peace Run for years, are the embodiment of personal peace. In that, they believe they are moving toward the attainment of world peace.

“The peace in the world begins with, and really depends on, the peace in our hearts, in our own personal lives,” said Banshidhar Madeiros, who has been part of the run since its launch in 1987. “We feel that each day, the thoughts that we think, the words that we speak, the actions that we share with others, that is what brings peace.” Madeiros spoke in front of a contemplative crowd that assembled in front of the Wabanaki Cultural Center to greet the runners.

“Everywhere we go, everybody agrees,” Madeiros said with a broad smile, earning him a chuckle from the audience. He continued with how even people at the highest level of government – including Senator John McCain, whom the Peace Runners met in Arizona – agree with their message. “He said such inspiring things to us,” Madeiros said. “At that level, you see every day the struggle that is happening on the world stage to bring peace in the world, which is not simple. He said that what we’re doing… the people that are in power need to have that kind of awareness about themselves. If they don’t, violence looks like the best option, but there are many other options. Peace is an option.”

For Saranyu Pearson, the movement itself is demonstrative of world peace. “We’re like a family,” Pearson said. “We’re kind of the living embodiment of nations coming together.” For the past 15 years, she’s taken a month or two off each year from her veterinary work in Australia to participate in the Peace Run. Doing so is always a moving experience. She recalled meeting two boys who survived the Rwanda genocide in Montreal. They sang a song with voices filled with joy for the runners. “That was incredibly inspirational, to see that level of forgiveness,” Pearson said.

 

“We meet people everywhere that have hope,” Pearson continued. “Despite what you hear on the news, all of the bad things happening – and there are bad things happening everywhere – there is also a message of hope.”