Piecing together the Peace Symbol

This week, I’ve invited Katherine Factor, who is on hand in Denver, to post her insights on the culture of politics as brand Obama takes center stage at the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Katherine scouts trends in culture, language, and the reinvention of archetypes. She probes questions such as, “What is our human potential to narrate and create a future?” She will be reporting on the fusion of corporate sponsorship and politics at the Democratic National Convention.

I have a photo of me at sixteen in an oversized sweater and a peace symbol necklace, flashing the peace “V” with my fingers. It was taken on the eve of a candlelight vigil protesting the Desert Storm in 1991. I didn’t understand the peace symbol then, it was more a fascination with the Cultural Revolution of the Sixties, coupled with teenage rebellion. Not to mention me reading Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience in class that year. And while I certainly didn’t understand Middle East politics, I did understand that War = Death. Death of people, soldiers, culture, and delicate ecosystems.

More and more, I see the peace symbol having resurgence. I know this from its prevalence in fashion. Take a walk around any shopping district, and you will find the peace symbol in window displays, on cheap jewelry and bags (ironically) made in China, all over t-shirts, and even on couture skirts. Like all trends, it begs the questions – is peace having a comeback?

To answer the question, I turn not to fashion but to activism. Codepink is a pro-peace group that “Wants to influence a shift in focus or world society away from militarism to life-affirming endeavors…” Codepink is “working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education and other life-affirming activities.” The non-profit gains media attention for protests organized by local volunteers, all dressed in pink, of course. They are planning a series of events in Denver in their efforts to “Give peace a chance.”