by Rosalyn Falcon Collier
Express-News, 23 January, 2021
Since 2006, the peaceCENTER has celebrated San Antonio’s peacemakers with a Blessing of the Peacemakers, held the last Sunday of January to dovetail with the start of the internationally recognized Season for Nonviolence. This season stretches from the anniversaries of the assassinations of Mahatma Gandhi on Jan. 30 and Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4.
A global grassroots movement began observing the season to uplift nonviolence as a powerful way to heal, transform and empower our lives and communities. We in the peaceCENTER connected our local ritual to this international effort.
After three years of celebrating the making of peace by so many ordinary folks, the fact that some individuals and groups in our city were living a season of nonviolence 365 days a year for decades became apparent. They were the ones who “dared to dream the impossible dream without question or pause.” They worked in ways big and small for a more just, peace-filled San Antonio and, by the ripple effect, the world. Their voices of wisdom and experience, and especially their example of working for peace, justice and nonviolence, needed recognition.
Traditionally, a laureate is one who is honored for creative or intellectual achievements. To show appreciation for our own exceptional individuals and groups, the first “SA Peace Laureate” was nominated in 2008. This ceremonial honor was planted in the rich soil of the Blessing of the Peacemakers.
This year’s Blessing of the Peacemakers will honor the Circle School as the peace laureate. There are also two new honors and recipients: Golden Rule Educator Jackie Claunch and Golden Rule Journalist Cary Clack.
Community and compassion are paramount in all our peace laureates — all have dedicated their passion and resources to create relationships for the common good. A two-year citywide Pilgrimage of Compassion was organized in 2013 highlighting organizations and institutions practicing the golden rule.
After many years of seeding and nurturing peace and compassion locally, in June 2017 our city, in conjunction with the International Charter for Compassion, officially became a Compassionate City, one of more than 450 compassionate cities worldwide.
One visible sign of the compassion commitment in San Antonio is the inauguration of a tree-planting project. In 2020, more than 11,000 trees were planted here, so we are on target to plant 1,000 more compassion trees this year. We hope cities across America will be inspired to recognize their own communities of compassion and honor them.
We have all been made painfully aware during these divisive times how important it is to intentionally plant and nurture the seeds that will bring about positive social transformation. We can realize a life-giving future for our children if we continue to cultivate our hometown garden of dreams.
How do we fertilize and grow this garden together? According to Gandhi, simply by “being the change we wish to see in this world.”
Please join us and invite a friend to the Circle School at 3 p.m. Jan. 31 for the 16th annual and first virtual Blessing of the Peacemakers honoring this year’s peace laureate. Go to sacompassion.net for details.