Peace Walkers march on Poulsbo’s Waterfront

By Jennifer Morris, North Kitsap Herald, Aug 8 2007

Poulsbo, WA (USA) -- Downtown Poulsbo may have seen its usual crowd of shoppers last weekend, but there were a few extra on the streets for more than just unique wares.

Monks from the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple on Bainbridge Island, along with members of several other faiths, led the third annual Interfaith Peace Walk through the streets of Poulsbo, praying and chanting the Buddhist mantra “Namu-myoho-renge-kyo,” which means, “All beings or lives are sacred.” The march began July 16 in Eugene, Ore. and ended at the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, where a groundbreaking ceremony took place Saturday.

“It’s a prayer walk for peace,” said walker and Sequim resident Cynthia Brooke. “We’re laying down a prayer on the earth.”

The event, which boasted about 15 walkers of various religions, including Buddhism, Judaism and Catholicism, during its march through Little Norway commemorated the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by nuclear bombs, while also honoring those throughout the U.S. who have suffered radiation poisoning near nuclear testing sites. Each step taken was dedicated to a nuclear-free future.

“It’s an extended brotherhood and sisterhood. Everybody who’s here has been moved for different reasons,” Brooke said. “It’s all the same prayer, we just have different ways of showing it.”

Monk Gilberto Perez of the Nipponzan Myohoji temple said just as those living near the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attack sites and Hanford, now Iraqis are seeing physical effects of uranium ammunition used during the Gulf War.

“We ask for forgiveness that we should all live in peace,” he said. “We pray to relieve the suffering of all people... It’s a visualization of peace. I think that’s the base of all religions.”

Zann Jacobrown, a member of the Bainbridge-area Jewish group Chavurah Shir Hayam, said the action of walking allowed her to better see the suffering of others.

“There’s something about the pace of walking,” she said. “It feels ancient, like a pilgrimage. There’s something very right about it.”

Senji Kanaeda, also a monk of the Buddhist order on Bainbridge, said many onlookers showed their support by waving and bowing as they passed.

“Peace is most important,” he said. “I hope American people have a power to realize peace, not war.”

Perez said knowing neighbors and understanding the lives of others is key to creating peace in the world. Nuclear activity, which harms the earth, is only hurting ourselves, he said.

“We are at a very delicate age and time,” Perez said. “Nobody wins from a nuclear war.”

The event was sponsored by Oregon WAND, CALC’s Progressive Responses, Taxes for Peace Not War, Justice Not War Coalition, Eugene PeaceWorks, and the Pan Asian Community Alliance.