Letters to the Editor

UC Irvine Peace Flag Project Completes the Circle
I’d like to thank Ali Taylor Lange for her article in the March 10 issue of the New University about our club and our upcoming campus-wide event, The UC Irvine Peace Flag Project. The project will encircle Aldrich Park with hundreds of flags made by groups from across the campus and the community to represent over 30 ongoing conflicts from around the world. It will be displayed during week eight this quarter.
I’d also like to address what seems to be a common misconception about the goal of this project. Our aim is not to leave students feeling uncomfortable, depressed or angry after presenting them with stories of violence from around the world. It’s true that many students may feel this way, but what matters more than their initial emotional response is the increased sense of global responsibility that we hope will follow. Most of the conflicts being presented are rarely or never discussed in the mainstream media, and without being made aware of them, it is impossible for students to recognize the need to act.
As Taylor mentioned in her article, Tibetan prayer flags were the model for this project. These flags are covered with prayers for peace, and when the wind blows through them it is said that the prayers are dispersed around the world. Our flags, on the other hand, will be covered not in prayers for peace, but in facts about conflicts that are, of course, uncomfortable and depressing. So is it discomfort and depression that will be generated? I’d like to suggest that what will be dispersed by our flags is knowledge, awareness, and a much-needed sense of responsibility. Awareness is the first step to action.
This process of dispersion has already begun. In over 30 organizations across our campus and community, people are educating themselves and each other for the purpose of making these flags. Our goal is for this awareness to continue to spread when the flags go up in May, and for students who find themselves jarred by, as our website states, “the extent to which conflict pervades our world and the extent to which peace is desperately needed,” to be motivated to make more individual efforts to keep from turning a blind eye on the suffering of the world. Our success will be measured by the extent to which these flags are as difficult to ignore as world conflict is currently easy to ignore.
Please visit our Web site at http://www.campaignforconscience.com for more information about The UCI Peace Flag Project.

Mark Hendrickson
Co-Vice Chair, Campaign for Conscience