I was walking near a wooded grove the other day, ignoring the sunshine and the autumn leaves falling gently around me, my forehead wrinkled as I contemplated the tumultuous state of the world, when a man drove by in a pristinely preserved antique car.
I imagined how delighted he must have felt inside his old-fashioned automobile on such a perfect day. Smiling and inspired to wave, I instead lifted my hand and gave him a peace sign, my second and third fingers in the shape of a V.
I hadn’t really planned to do it and yet, I meant it. I wished him peace.
Then I had an inspiration. The peace sign is a bit antiquated too, a remnant from a half-century ago, tossed aside with headbands, bell-bottoms and protest songs, but wouldn’t it be great to bring it back right now?
It was such a simple gesture used during equally tumultuous times. Hordes of mostly young people were protesting passionately against the Vietnam War and in support of civil rights, a clean planet and women’s rights.
Those protests were often imperfect. In some cases, heroic veterans were unfairly painted with the same brush as the warmongers, but the angry emotions were a response to a world where leaders claimed all were equal but all were not, a world where the destruction of our planet and horrific wars were sometimes the response to high-level business concerns and global disagreements. “Peace,” was shouted during many protests and demonstrations, though many such emotionally charged events were not always peaceful.
These days, the peace sign is mostly revived when someone dresses up as a “hippie” for Halloween.
We should bring it back. In these tumultuous times, we could use a peaceful gesture to remind us of what should be everybody’s ultimate goal: Peace in our communities, throughout our nation and on the planet.
In my travels to other countries, I always find people want the exact same thing we Americans want. They want peace so they can live out their lives fruitfully among friends and family. But peace is in short supply, especially right here in the United States, a country named in the belief that citizens of all kinds could be united, despite their differences.
Today, protesters once again are demanding to be heard. Once again, they are demanding a world where everyone is treated equally. Once again, the protests are imperfect for many reasons.
Through all of history, peace seems to often be the last choice, after distrust and destruction have shown time and again that peace is the only answer. How do we make peace? The same way we do it in our own homes. We come to the table and work towards it.
Some may not want to greet others with the peace sign because it feels silly and old-fashioned. But we can still choose peace if we want to help calm our communities, by extending our hand and listening to the other.
The peace sign may be antiquated but without peace, there are no good days. So here’s hoping that peace never goes out of style.
Michele DeLuca is a veteran journalist, furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic from a Niagara County newspaper.
This column was printed in the “My View” column of the Buffalo News on Oct. 27, 2020.